Peter Capaldi embarks upon a personal journey to discover the shocking history of the stars of north London's famous film studios. Including clips from rarely seen films and interviews with Marcia Warren and Terry Gilliam.... a graphically and textually brilliant pastiche, written by Peter Capaldi and Tony Roche, telling the century-long history of a small London studio.
In 45 minutes, it takes us from the early days with Arthur Sim's Méliès-style The Flying Pie and his stock comic character "The Little Drunk"; the strange life of Florrie Fontaine, a Gracie Fields clone and Forces sweetheart who fell from grace by becoming a friend of the Nazi High Command; the King of Horror, the classically-trained Lionel Crisp, and his role in the Quatermass-like Dr Worm (in which he undergoes a horrific transformation after being bitten by a radioactive earthworm), and his long career in Hammer-style horror; Jenny Driscoll, a glamour actress who appeared in the Carry On style "Thumbs Up" comedies that culminated in the SF-themed Thumbs Up Uranus; and the final demise of the studio, brought down by disastrous financial losses during the filming of Terry Gilliam's lost Professor Hypochondria's Magical Odyssey.
The Cricklewood Greats is a gem of intelligent comic television of a kind we seldom see. I strongly suspect BBC4 have repeated it now because of the current hype of Peter Capaldi as the new Dr Who. Nevertheless, it's highly worth watching.
If you're in a region where it's available, it's currently available on BBC iPlayer for the coming week: The Cricklewood Greats.
Addendum: I also recommend An Adventure in Space and Time, shown on BBC2 on Sunday. It's a one-off drama telling of the early days of the Dr Who series. Its commissioning was marked by a combination of ramshackle production values and radical hiring decisions for its time, such as a female producer (Verity Lambert), an Indian director (Waris Hussein), and the surprising casting of veteran actor William Hartnell as the first Doctor. It was especially moving as a tribute to Hartnell, who found at the end of his life a long-lasting, satisfying and popular role that dispelled his typecasting as Army NCOs.