Wednesday, 17 October 2012

The Cricklewood Greats

Somehow I've managed to miss this on many previous showings, but tonight I finally caught BBC4's The Cricklewood Greats ...
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, of 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, his role in the Quatermass-like Dr Worm (in which he undergoes a horrific transformation after being bitten by a radioactive worm), and his long career in Hammer-style horror; Jenny Driscoll, a glamour actress who appeared in the Carry On style "Thumbs Up" comedies; and 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. If you're in a region where it's available, it's currently available on BBC iPlayer for the coming week. See The Cricklewood Greats.

- Ray

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