Wednesday, 30 November -0001
Me And Mrs Jones
Michael Moran on small screen snapshots of suburbia… and The Beatles
By Michael MoranLike My Family, Terry And June and myriad other BBC sitcoms stretching back into television antiquity, Me And Mrs Jones (12 October, 9.30pm on BBC One) is set in the world of the Well To Do Hapless. The Well To Do Hapless are a mythical race who are accident-prone, slow on the uptake and have a preternaturalgift for giving inadvertent offence. But these creatures nevertheless contrive to live in improbably lovely houses in the suburbs of north London, so the vicarious embarrassment at their misadventures is ameliorated by beautifully-polished fl oorboards and enviable soft furnishings. In that sense, Me And Mrs Jones is no more rooted in reality than Star Trek or EastEnders.
Sarah Alexander plays Gemma, a divorced, disorganised mother of three whose undeniable good looks are not lost on most of the male characters. Neil Morrissey plays her dim-witted ex-husband Jason. Seemingly in the throes of some sort of midlife crisis, he has taken up with Eastern European beauty therapist Inca. Inca, as played by Vera Filatova, is a wildly implausible confection, at once trophy, temptress and tyrant.
The grit in this particular oyster is Robert Sheehan, playing a boon companion of Gemma's eldest son as exactly the same kind of irresistible, blarney-kissing charmer that he played in Channel 4's entirely likeable Misfits.
Me And Mrs Jones is an entirely predictable business, of a kind we've all seen several dozen times before. But there is a certain comforting charm in that.
Besides which, we know what happens when people do try something novel. On Boxing Day 1967, the BBC broadcast a freeform road movie that crystallised the heady blend of music hall and mysticism young Britons of the day called Psychedelia. The main reason they broadcast it on national television is that it was made by the biggest, and arguably best, pop group of all time – The Beatles.
Arena: The Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour Revisited (6 October, 9.45pm on BBC Two) looks at how that fi lm was made, and what happened when it was broadcast. Mostly, what seems to have happened is that everyone under 30 tried to convince themselves that they liked it, much as they do with slightly half-baked BBC Three comedy shows today. Meanwhile, everyone over 30 switched over to Val Doonican. Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Peter Fonda, Martin Scorsese, Terry Gilliam, Paul Merton and Neil Innes turn up to tell us why Magical Mystery Tour was an unparalleled triumph, and a number of people who were teenagers at the time tell us why their dads thought it wasn't.
The original film was driven principally by Paul McCartney, paradoxically both the most sentimental and the most experimental Beatle. It doesn't exactly stand the test of time.
The Beatles were a superb pop group. They weren't very good film-makers. This documentary directed by Francis Hanly gives you just as much of its subject as you need but operates mainly as a wonderfully evocative postcard sent straight from the Summer Of Love.
Daily tip from the lady archive
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