Thursday, 11 May 2017


"Queer as a nine bob note!"

I've always been fond of old British comedy, from Carry On to Round the Horne to Beyond the Fringe to Monty Python, and a biopic of Barbara Windsor of exactly the kind that used to be on BBC4 is very much my thing, especially with Tony Jordan writing, and this doesn't disappoint. Anyway, I've always liked Babs, dodgy opinions about the Kray twins (who were scum) notwithstanding.

It's a cleverly written teleplay, which feels at times almost to be written for theatre in its use of space as figures from the past (mainly her Dad) visit Barbara in an empty auditorium. But we start in 1993, with Babs at a low, pre-EastEnders ebb in her career, and the whole thing is a structured examination of Babs' life, loves and daddy issues. Samantha Spiro and Jaime Winstone are both superb, and we even get a few appearances from the lady herself. Plus we get Harry from The Black Adder as a divorce judge, so all's good.

The personal stuff is beautifully written, and both parents come across as very human. The script does a nice little balancing act in not shying away from Mr Deeks' habit of sodding off when things get tough or from the fact that there was at least a degree of spousal abuse. It's not hard to see her serial relationships as a search for the father figure of her early childhood.

But I particularly loved the parts with Zoe Wanamaker as the eccentric genius Joan Littlewood, whom I respect hugely, as Babs gets to grips with her eccentric ways of working. The Kenneth Williams scene with the ever-wonderful Robin Sebastian is also a joy. As, indeed, is the whole thing. Not to be missed.

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