Watched: Gracie!


This Post is one in a special week celebrating  Echostains I year Birthday blog


Jane Horrocks as Gracie Fields


I caught up with ‘Gracie!’ one of the women featured in the BBC biopic series, last night.  Rochdale born Gracie Fields, was played by Rawtenstall  born Jane Horrocks.    Known as the original ‘Queen of Hearts’, Gracie Fields was a very popular figure with legions of fans.  She never lost her down to earth demeanour. and gained a CBE in 1938.


Gracie Fields


One of the first scenes show Gracie gravely ill, though it’s not entirely clear what the illness is in the programme, though it is known that she did have cervical cancer in 1939.  She refers to herself  later  as “a 41-year-old with all your insides out”  and this provides the  only clue to her earlier illness.  She convalesces in Capri Italy, inviting Italian film director Monty Banks to join her.  War  breaks out and Gracie keeps the flag flying  by entertaining the troops with a series of concerts.  “Work is the best tonic” says Gracie “Schweppes is the best tonic, drunk with gin” says Monty as Gracie entertains the troupes in France with the inevitable ‘Wish me Luck’.


sing as we go


Jane Horrocks is wonderful as Gracie, it’s obvious that she really understands the character.  The singing is great too: Horrocks captures the Rochdale burr in the voice.   Gracie seems to have a great rapport with Monty who is a cross between a Mother hen and a deadpan comedian.  Both prove to be quite stubborn people though…


1950 Gracie Fields Sally


Sally is sung to the troops of course, with great gusto.  I didn’t realise that the song had such an introduction.  A lot of her songs are comical, like ‘Walter Walter lead me to the Altar’ (I don’t cost much to keep in food……..  Walter Walter lead me to the altar and I’ll show you where I’m tattooed’ lol!  A fabulous scene is when Gracie sneaks off to entertain the lads whilst in a restaurant with Monty,( he is preoccupied on the phone).  Monty is not happy because Gracie is supposed to be taking it easy.  He threatens to go to America.  Both realise their true feelings towards each other and marry after Gracie divorces first husband Archie Pitt, whom she married in 1923  and who has had a mistress all through their marriage, (also not shown).


Monty banks


The relationship between Gracie and her  boys (the troops) is very touching and Gracie is unstinting in her dedication towards uplifting their spirits.  Her parents, very down to earth folk are quite comical, flashes of this are shown in the relationship between father and mother. When Italy enters the War Gracie leaves Britain for North America.  Although she is still touring and entertaining the troops, Monty begs her to come to America, but Gracie will not abandon her tour.  Despite her drop in popularity, and a break away from Monty, Gracie still continues with her tour.   Some of this biopic is quite sad, especially the way Gracie is treated as a ‘traitor for marrying Italian Monty.  This is a great series, with wonderful actors and actresses!

What a lovely down to earth lady she was.  I met her once, when I was a child.  She opened a Garden Fete at the local Hospital and I was pushed by my Mother to get her autograph.  She was very nice.

Watch the whole programme HERE

Also watched in this series: Enid Blyton

And Margot Fonteyn 

2 thoughts on “Watched: Gracie!

  1. I enjoyed this too. Jane Horrocks is really talented as is Tom Hollander who played her husband. According to our Rochdale lass, they still hate Gracie Fields there.

  2. Aye It’s grim up North lol! They don’t forgive and they don’t forget. Good programme though, and I should have mentioned Hollander, he was good!

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