Welcome to another glimpse into an action-packed Week in TV
We start this instalment with a TV drama that takes us back to the 1970s to tell the story of George Best’s mother who at the age of 44 started drinking. It is one of those dramas you know when you start watching what’s going to happen so when Ann Best has her first drink at her daughter’s Christening, ‘just a small one’ it’s the start of the slippery slope. This 90 minute drama chronicled the early career of George Best as he was lauded by the fans and the press but then jeered when he started to become the bad boy. And it was his family who drew the flack of it as Ann got more and more stressed by constant press-hounding she started to go out with her workmates and hiding bottles around the house. This infuriated her husband Dick and her daughter who she basically flung out of the house. This was set against the backdrop of the troubles in Northern Ireland as the bleak curfew is seen with men sitting atop towers with rifles aimed adds another quality to this drama. As Ann, Michelle Fairley was great her expressions spoke more than her words ever could and as her struggling husband Locran Cranitch was equally fantastic as he saw his wife change before his eyes and couldn’t do anything to stop her downfall. The weak link was in fact Tom Payne, apparently best known for his role in gritty school drama Waterloo Road, here as George Best he often trips over his lines and doesn’t give the impression of the horrors to come later in his life, in fact I think he was cast because of his looks rather than his acting talent. Overall a well-acted if not always well-written drama of a story that we know part of already but was still pretty well told.
Also this week we saw the start of a lighter comedy drama with an interesting concept s Martin Freeman and Rachel Stirling (best known for Tipping the Velvet) starred in Boy Meets Girl. The premise is that Freeman’s financially-strapped, conspiracy-theory DIY store worker Danny is trying to pull off a scam near a pylon on a rainy night, Stirling’s middle-class journalist Veronica stops because her cars broken down and notices Danny and the two are standing next to each other when a lightning bolt hits them both and they are knocked out. When we next here Danny’s voice in hospital he is surrounded by strangers and when he goes to the loo he looks in the mirror and realises he’s turned into Veronica. He is totally baffled by Veronica’s middle class lifestyle the crude watercolour pictures of her and her partner around their swanky pad, the fact that Veronica was having an affair with one of their toffee-nosed friends and also that she writes fashion articles and horoscopes for a living, in fact one of the choice scenes saw Veronica’s editor chastising her/him for the very broad horoscopes that she had written. Meanwhile Danny was wandering round the streets not sure who she/he was thinking he was a woman but looking like a man he had no ID to his name and had to beg for a fiver for some breakfast. Later seeing an article talking about Veronica’s brush with death he suddenly recognises it as the woman he actually is. This was an interesting comedy-drama packed with subtle digs at suburban lifestyle and what it means to be a woman in this day and age, its two main characters were quite diverse. Although some of the characters were quite broad (for example Danny’s debt collector who was as broad as they come) over all they were complex and real. Although Freeman is the ‘name’ in this show it was Stirling who gave an excellent performance as Danny trapped inside Veronica’s body, she started wearing hoodies, downing pop and smoking indoors to the bemusement of partner Jay. The supporting cast was lined with familiar faces there was Marchall Lancaster (Ashes to Ashes/Life on Mars) and Angela Griffin (Corrie/Waterloo Road/Cutting it) as Danny’s co-workers, Patterson Joseph (Peep Show/Survivors) as Veronica’s partner and James Lance (bloody everything) as the guy Veronica was having it off with. Next week will delve into Veronica’s life a bit more, since we’ve seen it from Danny’s side of things it will be interesting to see her pre-accident and what she really thinks of her lifestyle. But this is a competent effort especially as it comes from a first-time writer, and it beggars the question why doesn’t ITV1 make more stuff like this?
Documentary time now with My Wall Street, which dealt with the topic of the recession, as Channel 4 delved into the lives of the 23 different Wall Streets in Britain. The main stories were of people who were struggling to make a buck or were being laid off. There was Ali from Wolverhampton who we saw at the start of the programme searching for jobs even being turned down by Subway for a job as a Sandwich Artist. Ali had previously worked as one of those annoying people who come to your door and try and hawk you British Gas, a bleak scene was where he walked down his local high street and you saw the fact that nowhere was advertising for jobs any more but instead had closing down sale signs or instead just empty job faces. Then there was Clayton and Lisa, Welsh newlyweds who were just about getting by but as Lisa forewarned this was just because of Clayton’s job as a truck driver if he lost that then they would be screwed and wouldn’t you just know it he lost his job and as we were told by the end of the film, Lisa was still the only breadwinner. There was a brilliant scene where Lisa’s nan told her and us why there was a Credit Crunch, it was because of our spending and now the people who were spending haven’t got it anymore and that’s why it hurts. Then there was the effect the recession was having on our teenagers as Saira, who worked in her parent’s corner shop, was desperately trying to set up her own beauty business but was struggling to get it off the ground in this economic climate. There was Paul who had just lost his pub and he and his wife and children have just moved into Wall Street in Grimsby. Paul has a Star Wars collection worth about 10,000 pounds but won’t sell it even though it will go some way to clearing his family’s debt. There is an interesting scene where Paul greets an elderly lady called Magda with comic disdain but she isn’t an elderly relative or friend but in fact a debt collector. This was an interesting film highlighting the individual people who have been hit by the recession instead of the country as a whole. But for me personally I would like to see a film that dealt purely with Magda and her debt-collecting ways on the mean streets of Grimsby.
Finally it was the TV Baftas, and it was a lousy year for my predictions only garnering five out of a possible sixteen. These were the predictions that David Attenborough would win for Life in Cold Blood, the sublime Criminal Justice would win for Best Serial Drama, the underrated White Girl would win Best Single Drama, The Choir: Boys Don’t Sing won Best Feature (or Factual Entertainment) and Harry and Paul would win the best sketch show award because of the production of the late Geoffrey Perkins. By that note I could’ve predicted the win for The IT Crowd’s Best Sitcom also produced by Perkins it was the best season yet but not up their with the great Outnumbered. Although this was the year of the upsets as Best Actor and Actress were both the least likely to win the award. Stephen Dillane beat legendary actor Ken Stott, movie star Jason Isaacs and the hot favourite Ben Whishaw for his performance as the grieving father in The Shooting of Thomas Hurndall, I’d seen the programme and Dillane didn’t dazzle in the way Scott, Isaacs and Whishaw did. Similarly Anna Maxwell Martin’s performance in White Girl for me was better than her more showy work which she won for in Poppy Shakespeare beating other character actresses Angela Whishaw (for playing Margaret Thatcher) and Maxine Peake (for playing Joan Le Measurier) as well as Dot Cotton herself June Brown. Two other awards I went for the wrong pick as I thought Tennant’s last season of Dr. Who would beat the much better Wallander (it didn’t) and I was 50/50 between winner Harry Hill and my pick Stephen Fry as best entertainment performer. David Mitchell finally got a prize for Peep Show an award he’d been nominated for many times so it felt like his time (I would’ve liked Sharon Horgan to win for Pulling). The least deserving award went to The X Factor, as entertainment programme its fine but nowhere near as good as QI, TV Burp or The Project another pleasant surprise was the fact that Skins triumphed in the Audience Award over The Apprentice and other seemingly more-popular shows. The awards itself was properly televised given more prominence than the movie Baftas in terms of editing and T.V. time. Norton’s gags didn’t always hit the mark but there were some classic awards moments for example The Wire’s Idris Elba tripping up over the autocue and wanting to do it in his American accent instead or Michael McIntyre’s hilarious speaking in sitcom titles intro into the best sitcom award. Although the end of the show was the best as French and Saunders got the fellowship and did one of the most heart-warming and brilliant speeches full of warmth for the industry and each other it’s only a shame that Jen’s husband was slaving over a hot-stove only to be runner-up to a former Dynasty Star, well that’s reality TV for you.
Next Time: The Apprentice, Bring Back Star Trek and My Life as an Animal.