(Series 5, ep 7) It was black armbands for everybody this week – including Baby Genevieve – as the whole town pulled together to pay tribute to the funerial legend that was Daddy Simpson. As well as the sending off, there were also some arrivals. We had a cameo (for once, not from a Welshman), a return of an old favourite and (to my frustration) a revival of a familiar problem. Continue reading
Tag Archives: ruth jones
(Series 5, eps. 4&5) Double header recap for Stella for me this week, and if the anniversaries, arranged marriages and trekkie funerals hadn’t made it hard enough to fit even one in, you can bet the investitures, boxing classes and Frisky Strictly have pumped it to exploding point. It’s been new loves and old loves dominating over in Pontyberry and as always things are never that simple in the valleys. Continue reading
(Series 5, ep. 3) Pack up your flags and pepper spray – it’s field trip time for the Stella crew! The nurses went on an excursion to one of the deadliestest cities in the world – London. But it wasn’t every passer by being a “potential terrorist or lunatic” that caused the most disturbance for our heroine, it was an old boomerang love coming flinging full pelt back into her life. Continue reading
(Series 5, ep. 2) Stella was all car boots, former sherry swillers and name dropping this week but first of all we started with droppings of a different kind, picking up back in Michael’s allotment the morning after last week’s Christening. Stella and Michael are discussing the up and coming Town Event of the episode, the car boot sale, and making sure we’re aware of their episode theme and lack of finances. Fertiliser is one thing they don’t need to waste money on though, and as Glen Brannig appears with a bucket of his pet donkey’s manure to remind us of who their neighbours are we’re reassured that this episode will have a lot more than household accounts. Continue reading
(Series 5, ep. 1) Drinks all round – Tuesday nights are back to Pontyberry! While we may not be able to venture to Le Cafe De Les Alans for those drinks anymore, it looks as if the prodigal newsagent, Jagadeesh, has it covered. He’s swapped the cat food and stamps for beer taps and with it the town now has a new “cast gathering” set not owned by Scott Quinnell: The Frisky Fox. Continue reading
I recently made a trip to London to visit a childhood friend of mine. With both of us having moved on to concrete pastures away from our green-belted Scottish haven, it was inevitable that we would end up with a bottle of wine reminiscing long into the night. It’s fair to say that one of the most common causes of our laugher were discussions around the particular oddball characters or town quirks that formed the backdrop of our youth. Like a homemade patchwork quilt, we all have our distinctive squares coloured by different accents, houses or backgrounds, but the feel of it is the same. It provides a familiar comfort, even if at times it can be a little itchy or smothering.
Relating to the nostalgic intimacy of a tight-knit, eccentric community isn’t what drew me to Stella (it was the presence of the talented Ben Glover on the soundtrack that did that), but it is a main part of what got me hooked. It wasn’t a shock that such a vivid and relatable character-led comedy drama would come from Ruth Jones; the whirlwind success of Gavin and Stacey proved she is Queen of the small-town caricature, but there is something about the extra grit and emotion alongside this that gives Stella its own identity. Before the end of the first episode you already feel an attachment to the characters, both those who are there purely as eclectic village furniture and also those who fulfil the more dimensional roles. Continue reading
As a child of the 60s, Hattie Jacques looms large in my televisual memory – and I mean large, in all respects. Exotically beautiful with her almond-shaped eyes, and unashamedly, fabulously voluptuous, Hattie wasn’t like anyone else on television at the time. Though I’m not at all a fan of the Carry On films, in which she was a regular feature, I loved her partnership with Eric Sykes (I revere Eric Sykes almost as much as I revere Eric Morecambe). There was such brilliant chemistry between them that you could readily believe they were twin brother and sister, even though the visual joke of their differing physical shapes strongly advised otherwise.
So I was looking forward to Hattie, the BBC drama about Jacques’ life with her husband John Le Mesurier and her lover John Schofield. And there was a lot about it that was good – the period detailing was all present and correct (they never stopped smoking in the 60’s, did they? Even a kickabout in the garden with the kids wasn’t complete without a cigarette dangling from the fingertips); Aidan Turner as Schofield managed the feat of being slimy yet still sexy, despite a very dodgy hairstyle and some nasty baggy Y-fronts. Robert Bathurst captured John Le Mesurier’s restrained sadness perfectly – without resorting to a Dad’s Army impression, he gave us fleeting glimpses of mannerisms, the little cock of the head, the absent-minded gaze into the distance while he was looking for the right word.
The chief problem I had was Ruth Jones, as Hattie. For one thing, I just didn’t feel she was substantial enough physically (apart from in some scenes towards the end), which sounds an odd thing to say, but she just doesn’t occupy space in the same way Hattie did, and her features are far less dramatic. And I never really felt I had a strong idea of Hattie as a person, what motivated and drove her to behaving in such an entirely selfish way and treating Le Mesurier so badly (moving him into the attic while she installed her lover into the master bedroom). I couldn’t get a real feel for what men found so irresistible about her. At one point Schofield told her that she was “beautiful, sexy and funny,” and maybe she was ticking the first two boxes but not really the third. It was like there was a dimension missing from this portrait – Hattie was strong, sexy, career-driven, but what was it about her that was loveable and inspired the devotion of not just a husband and a lover but also friends like Eric Sykes?
A good try, but not at all in the same league as the Morecambe & Wise drama from a few weeks ago.
Posted by PLA