I know it’s Saturday but….
Would love your thoughts about a new Tellyspotting feature on Fridays where we dig into the vault and highlight a classic Brit television series of any genre. The idea being to re-discover together a classic series or program that would be perfect for a power-watching session over the coming weekend. No better time to start this feature than at a time where winter is right on our doorstep and no better series to begin with than Dennis Potter’s 1993 classic, Lipstick on Your Collar.
While it was virtually impossible to equal his 1986 mini-series, The Singing Detective, Potter captured the essence of the British Military Intelligence Office in Whitehall during the mid-50’s to a tea. As the story goes, Potter looks in on a small group of foreign affairs analysts who find their quiet existence disrupted by the Suez Crisis. Mick Hopper (Ewan McGregor, in his first acting role) is completing his national service as an interpreter of Russian documents. Bored with his job, Hopper spends his days creating fantasy daydreams that involve his work colleagues breaking into contemporary hit songs. Sylvia Berry (Louise Germaine) is wife of the violent Corporal Pete Berry (Douglas Henshall).
Sylvia is an object of desire for Mick’s fellow clerk Private Francis Francis (Giles Thomas) and a middle-aged pipe-organist named Harold Atterbow (Roy Hudd). Unlike the street-wise Hopper, Francis is a clumsy Welsh intellectual whose academic career has been interrupted by his army call up. The appearance of the bookish niece of a seconded American officer enables the two conscripts to pair off with suitable partners, after initial mismatching.
The really great thing about the series is how the storyline is interspersed with some great music from the beginning of the Rock & Roll era. Reminiscent of being a precursor to Glee, CopRock, American Graffiti or any other drama with a musical storyline, the cast will start singing at just the right time. The mundane suddenly has an upbeat tempo to it. Much like the earlier concept of The Singing Detective, it works and it adds just the right touch to the storyline. Almost makes you remember all those times when you wish life was a musical.
So, enjoy the new From the Friday Vault feature and please, feel free to make suggestions as to what you might like to see profiled on future Fridays. Cheers.