Archive for biopic

Watched: Margot!

Posted in WATCHED with tags , , , , , , on December 5, 2009 by echostains

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


I watched the previous two of these BBC  4 biopics so I thought I might as well catch up on the last one – Dame Margot Fonteyn, Prima ballerina: probably the most famous ballerina.  She was played by Anne-Marie Duff and played very well I may add.

The programme opens with Margot’s husband Panamanian diplomat and  playboy Tito  (Dr Robert Arias)  who is in jail. But Margot flies back to London from Panama because  the show must go on…..  Tito is released and reunited with his wife.  He hasn’t got much time for the ballet, which he makes clear, he is  more concerned with the political intrigues he is involved in.

anne marie duff excellent

Derek Jacobi plays Sir Frederick Ashton, The Royal Ballet’s leading choreographer and friend.  He is reminded of the ‘old days’ a lot and is always pumping Fonteyn about information of her husbands prowess and cringes about ‘Coppelia’ in Wigan.  From his innuendos’ we gather that Margot has got a bit of history and that they both have known each other a long time.


Duff and Huisman

Nureyev is played by Michiel Huisman. I was a bit dubious at first, but he and Duff looked great together on stage, though the real dancing was done by doubles.   Whilst Nureyev joins the ballet as a promising newcomer, Tito is preoccupied with buying weapons for his cause.  I must admit, I didn’t like the crude boorish Tito one bit.  I can only think that Fonteyn liked the subterfuge and excitement.


just good friends? probably

Nureyev  moves into theEmbassy (Fonteyn’s home) with the lonely Fonteyn.  The divide between Tito and his wife is ever-widening.  He refers to her as a child of the theatre in front of their friends.  Meanwhile things are hotting up with the young Nureyev and the older Fonteyn.  They dance together and soon become lovers (or so the ‘story’ goes).  According to Auntie Fred  Ashton, Nureyev has improved her dance……..


Of course Fonteyn denies any unprofessional attachment.  Nureyev has his gay lovers, which he brings back to the house.  But these two dance like a dream and Tito is totally uninterested in the dance apart from the money it brings in to buy arms with.   It  is inevitable that he eventually does go too far………  but that’s not the end of the story…….

the very photogenic nureyev

 Bit by bit the ‘sacrifices’ her need for surgery, the ‘debt’ that she owes to her mother are revealed.  Yet Fonteyn knows that she has nothing, except prestige.  The woman is looking for something else  and perhaps that is what she sees in Tito, – that he sees her as a woman not a ballerina.


The film is interspersed with interviews, which reveal quite a lot about Fonteyn.  It’s what she doesn’t say that reveals the most.  In one interview, she does say that she likes hiding behind the characters she plays, and that it is like leading a second life.  She also likes to ‘put things away in boxes’ not to be thought of again.  This reminded me of Enid Blyton, escaping from reality.  Perhaps Gracie Fields escaped in a different way, literally – but was torn by her roots and loyalty towards the troops and her Italian husband.  On the face of it, it would seem that these three women didn’t have much in common, – but perhaps this was the theme of the biopics.

Watch the whole programme HERE

Read about Fonteyn’s time as a dancer and how things have changed now for dancers HERE

Smashing article about this programme and some information about the making of it HERE

Also watched in this series: Enid Blyton

Upstairs Downstairs series 5


Watched: Gracie!

Posted in WATCHED with tags , , , , , on December 3, 2009 by echostains


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 

Watched: ‘Enid’ BBC4

Posted in WATCHED with tags , , , , on November 18, 2009 by echostains

This post has been moved over to my Bookstains blog here