Thursday 21 September 2017

Carry On Watching: Tonight on Talking Pictures TV


Talking Pictures TV is showing a couple of very interesting and sadly, rarely seen British films later on this evening. Both feature strong, mostly dramatic performances from two leading ladies who we know best for their comedy work.

First up is the 1972 film, The Best Pair of Legs in the Business. This film tells the rather sad story of an ambitious, yet pretty talentless entertainer at a holiday camp. His obsession with the business and still having a chance to make it in the profession means that he's blind to the fact the rest of his life is falling apart. The lead in the film is On the Buses favourite Reg Varney. This was a very brave role to take on following several years as the star of one of the most popular knockabout sitcoms on British television of the time. Not surprisingly, the public didn't take to the change of pace and the film performed poorly. However The Best Pair of Legs does feature a wonderful co-starring role for Diana Coupland as Varney's wife Mary. Diana is of course best known for her role as Jean, long-suffering wife of Sid James in the long running ITV comedy series, Bless This House. I've always been a big fan of Diana's and it's great to see her take on a different kind of role in this film.


The Best Pair of Legs in the Business will be on Talking Pictures TV this evening at 10pm.

Now to a better known film perhaps, although you may need to set your recorders for this showing! I'm a big fan of A Taste of Honey, however the tone and content of the film means I have to be in the right mood for it. The film features extremely strong performances from its small cast of excellent actors, including a young Rita Tushingham, Maggie Smith's first husband Robert Stephens, the great Paul Danquah and Theatre Workshop and Stratford East regular, Murray Melvin. A Taste of Honey was the first play by the British dramatist Shelagh Delaney, written when she was just 18 years old. The play was first produced by Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop and was premiered at the Theatre Royal Stratford East in May 1958. 


A Taste of Honey is set in North West England in the 1950s. It tells the story of Jo, a seventeen-year-old working class girl, and her mother, Helen, who is presented as crude and sexually indiscriminate. Helen leaves Jo alone in their new flat after she begins a relationship with Peter, a rich lover who is younger than her. At the same time Jo begins a romantic relationship with Jimmy, a black sailor. He proposes marriage but then goes to sea, leaving Jo pregnant and alone. She finds lodgings with a homosexual acquaintance, Geoffrey, who assumes the role of surrogate father. Helen returns after leaving her lover and the future of Jo's new home is put into question.

A Taste of Honey was and remains a really important film for the way it tackled issues such as race, class and sexual orientation head on at a time when, while these issues existed and affected the people of Britain, they were not yet openly discussed in film. The film features a stunning dramatic (albeit with comedic edges) performance from the wonderful Dora Bryan, again probably best known for her comedy roles. Three years after her role as Norah in the first ever Carry On, Carry On Sergeant, Dora proves what a capable, strong and truthful dramatic actress she could be in the role of Helen.


A Taste of Honey will be on Talking Pictures TV tonight at midnight.

You can watch Talking Pictures TV on: Virgin 445 / Freeview 81 / Sky Channel 343 / Freesat 306 / Youview 81

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