I’m unlikely to ever actually read a Nick Hornby novel, but I like a bit of 60s period drama, and I also like modern trends in inclusive casting and the reimagining of history, so I thought I’d give this a go.
Charming is the word for this, I think. It’s not edgy or dark (thank goodness for some illuminated pixels), and nobody here who (for example) quits on principle has to pay the economic price. So it’s a kind of magical realist version of the 1960s, best understood with the way show lead Gemma Arterton is cleverly CGI’d into some vintage footage. It isn’t remotely convincing and looks a bit shonky, but it’s tremendous fun.
Beauty queen Barbara, whose dad makes Blackpool rock, sets off to that London to make her fortune. She dips briefly into the seedy side of Soho but her gift for sending herself up means that she inevitably finds her way onto a sitcom. Everybody concerned (apart from stuffy BBC exec producer) falls for her, and she’s a big hit with the public, and a lorra lorra laffs ensue.
The cast is great, especially Morwenna Banks and Rupert Everett as her agents, and David Threlfall as her old man. The soundtrack is excellent too, and takes a robust view of strict chronology, which is as it should be.
There’s a little bit of social commentary. There’s that nasty Enoch Powell; women being mean to women but letting men off the hook; and TV’s use of blackface and brownface. But as I said, although there is plenty of quitting on principle, nobody really suffers.
All in all, an enjoyable watch.