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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 19 June, 2002, 14:23 GMT 15:23 UK
Being April
Being April

Pauline Quirke as a single mother with children by three men in the new TV drama.

(Edited highlights of the panel's review)


GERMAINE GREER:
I don't agree that this family is dysfunctional. It's only dysfunctional if it doesn't work, it kind of does.

What messes it up is getting the men more involved in it. I want to see more of the kids, I think they're enchanting. One of the men is a moron.

It's not written well enough, it should be a lot warmer and funnier.

MARK LAWSON:
I'm not sure if it was trying shock us or trying to be jolly. Pauline Quirke is very jolly, and yet the CV of her character is quite shocking to a number of people.

MICHAEL GOVE:
Yes, and Pauline Quirke is one of those figures who will always be taken to the public's heart.

She can play almost any character and because of her skill and because of the position she occupies in our minds, we're all going to love her.

But I'm afraid I hated this thing. Instead of trying to break stereotypes it merely created new stereotypes. It was a sort of politically correct masterpiece in that it managed to push a particular agenda about how Britain should be and in so doing it lost any dramatic coherence and identity.

It seemed to me a rather crude piece of add abject prop which relied on Pauline Quirke to blast it on to BBC One.

CHARLIE HIGSON:
I thought it was good actually, and funny and full of characters. I thought it was where it was meant to be. It's very, very hard to do a mainstream drama. I've tried with mixed results.

Watching it I felt it could have worked as a charming British film and it looked almost like a pilot episode. It may have been a pilot episode, I know nothing about it.

It will be interesting to see how it develops over the weeks.

I agree with Germaine, it's not a dysfunctional family. It's like the Simpsons in that they love each other more than any family ever could.

MICHAEL GOVE:
But each of the characters in the Simpsons has got far more personality than the people here.

It is politically correct. The girl has to be a football fan and a football player. The Asian boy has to be dealing with his sexual identity.

All the characters have to fit Islington stereotypes even though they're living in Leicester. That seemed unrealistic to me.

MARK LAWSON:
Are you really saying that every family should be like this?

MICHAEL GOVE:
It's presenting an idealised picture, just as much as the Waltons ever did. All of the characters are cardboard two-dimensional, if that.

CHARLIE HIGSON:
Does all drama have to be brave?

MICHAEL GOVE:
It should at least be creative. It should draw on something deeper instead of just pushing a message.

MARK LAWSON:
I think it's more complicated than that. I thought the first two-thirds of the script everything is lying to everyone else. She's lying over a romantic fantasy.

At least two of the ex-partners are lying to their present partners about what is going on. That is actually quite a tough script that is done in a jolly way.

CHARLIE HIGSON:
If you look at most mainstream BBC One drama it is very formulaic and similar. It's about hospitals and cops. And this wasn't trying to do that.

If you try and diverge even slightly from what people normally expect on BBC One you get hammered by it.

MICHAEL GOVE:
That's a legitimate criticism of BBC One, but this takes it on to a new plain. I think what ITV and sometimes BBC try to do is create another style vehicle, but they frame it on tired old formula or politics in this case.

CHARLIE HIGSON:
But she has been in main frame before, she was a policewoman. I don't think it was a standard vehicle on any level.

See also:

05 Apr 02 | Panel
14 Jun 02 | Panel
26 Apr 02 | Panel
14 Jun 02 | Panel
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