Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Christmas TV treats: Tom, the Royles, Mapp & Lucia

Here at the Projector we love Tom Courtenay as Billy and Helen Fraser as Barbara his nicer than nice, too perfect but bossy girlfriend (Billy of course has 2 other girlfriends, the cafe waitress and free-wheeling Liz (Julie Christie's breakout role)).... thats the 1963 classic BILLY LIAR, see Tom label. It was delightful therefore to see them re-united a few years ago in a Christmas edition of the hit British comedy THE ROYLE FAMILY, about that family who just sit around watching telly all the time. In this festive edition Tom and Helen play the very square parents of daughter Denise's dopey husband Dave, as they all gather to celebrate the season with dinner at Denise and Dave's,with predictably hilarious results - 
they forgot to defrost the turkey for a start! and lazy Denise's first course is 'cuppasoup' with a twist - its in a bowl instead of a cup! This hilarious series is of course written by Caroline Aherne and Craig Cash, who are both perfect as Denise and Dave, while Ricky Tomlinson and Sue Johnston do sterling work as workshy Jim Royle and his put-upon wife, Barbara. Tom and Helen though are priceless in this christmas edition, with his motoring gloves and their Ford Mondeo! 
We have a couple to watch in the New Year with Tom playing gay: in THE DRESSER and a tv film from a Noel Coward tale: ME AND THE GIRLS from 1985.
A new perfect treat should be the new 3-part MAPP AND LUCIA, though (as per label) we like a lot the 1983 series which is perfectly cast with Prunella Scales as Mapp, Geraldine McEwan as Lucia and Nigel Hawthorne as her screamer friend and later husband, Georgie, with his wig (right) and his devoted servant Foljambe; that 10 part series was scripted by Gerald Savory and directed by Donald McWhinnie. 

Steve Pemberton (of BENIDORM) has scripted the new series and plays Georgie - even shaving his head so he can wear that fussy wig! Mark Gatiss is Major Benjy, and the two terrors are Anna Chancellor as Lucia and Miranda Richardson gnashing her false teeth as Mapp - and cult favourite Frances Barber plays the Italian contessa who visits and whom Lucia and Georgie have to avoid as they do not speak Italian though they pretend they do. Lets hope the other characters in their thrall are well cast too: Diva Plaistow, Quaint Irene, Mr & Mrs Wyse with their rolls royce, and the Padre and wife. It is of course set in Rye in Sussex which plays the part of that ideal village, Tilling. E F Benson fans should be in for a treat. 
Well not quite the treat I had imagined - it might have worked better if Gatiss had played prissy Georgie, and the rather beefy Pemberton played Major Benjy. No denying Pemberton's dedication to the role though, and scriptwriting as well.
Also fun for the holidays should be a new David Walliams THE BOY IN A DRESS and a new Victoria Wood comedy musical THAT DAY WE SANG, featuring Michael Ball and the stupendous Imelda Stuanton, whom I will be seeing on stage in April in the latest revival of GYPSY - yes she is Momma Rose, and she should be as wonderful as she was in GUYS AND DOLLS a decade or so ago.

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