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Last Updated: Monday, 20 October, 2003, 13:45 GMT 14:45 UK
Men in Tights
Helen Royle's documentary follows the English National Ballet dancer Daniel Jones as he attempts to recruit and train a group of eight ordinary shipyard workers to perform in a specially choreographed ballet.

(Edited highlights of the panel's review taken from the teletext subtitles that are generated live for Newsnight Review.)

ALKARIM JIVAN:
You can just hear the pitch for this programme. It's the Full Monty meets Billy Elliot. It's beer guts at the bar. And so on. Usually, when you hear the pitch for the programme, they never quite live up to the title. This one is different because of the men. They are just so straightforward and honest. You warm to them in a way that they adapt to the environment. There was a wonderful bit when the two of them barge off because they haven't been given the principal roles. I thought it took years of training to do that type of fit, and they do it just like that!

JULIE MYERSON:
My heart sank when I thought it was a bit of a full Monty with a hint of Big Brother. Like Tom, I thought I would like to have seen them a month on and what effect this had had on them. Whether it was just a bit of fun or whether it would have opened a small void or gap in their lives. If you haven't been in any sort of further education, to have a teacher concentrating on you, organising you, creating a sense of team and a performance, is an extraordinarily exhilarating thing. I was impressed how they both rose to it.

ALKARIM JIVAN:
I would like to have seen more of the performance. It was only a six- minute performance.

TOM PAULIN:
It would have been difficult to film, to give it the big finale.

TOM SUTCLIFFE:
Did you believe the film makers at that point?

TOM PAULIN:
Perhaps not at that point, but I loved the whole industrial landscape, the way they got that, and these great heroes of labour came over so wonderfully well.

ALKARIM JIVAN:
I think Julie's point is important, which is there is a touching moment when one of them said his motivation for doing it is because he hopes a scout will spot him and get him out of the job. When you do a brutal job, there is always the fantasy that something will come and whisk you away from it. I would really like to find out, as Julie does, what happens to them when they realise in fact they can't escape from it, and they have to go back to their normal, mundane lives.

TOM SUTCLIFFE:
It's the piety of today that you can do anything if you set your mind to it. It's just not true. One of the men stated it. No matter how much he sets his mind to it, he is not going to become a principal ballet dancer.

ALKARIM JIVAN:
That's part of the manipulation of it. I was surprised the fat bloke got into the final eight, because if he isn't in there, you don't have the conflict which is absolutely necessary for these kinds of programmes to work.

JULIE MYERSON:
There was a certain grace from one of the men. My favourite moment was when Brian, the big one, was supporting the ballerina, and she tilted in to him, and she smiled at him and he smiled back. He was so responsive and spontaneous.

ALKARIM JIVAN:
There was a deep sadness about these men trapped in their own masculinity and frightened of moving out of it.

TOM PAULIN:
No. They came out of it in an incredible way, I thought. They were extraordinary. They wore tights, for God's sake!


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