Dancing on the Edge
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Set in a time of immense change, Dancing on the Edge tells the story of a black jazz group, the Louis Lester Band, as they rise to fame, entertaining guests at exclusive high society gatherings in 1930's London. While many recoil at the presence of black musicians in polite society, the capital's more progressive socialites, including younger members of the Royal Family, take the band under their wing.
In this explosive five-part series, Stephen Poliakoff returns to television with his most ambitious work to date. Dancing on the Edge provides a new angle on an extraordinary time in history, giving us a piercingly original vision of Britain in the 1930s; a time of glamour, hardship, vibrant new music and financial meltdown.Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Matthew Goode, Jacqueline Bisset and John Goodman
- The 7th Hour documentary (interviewing Louis) - 60 mins
- Commentary from writer/director Stephen Poliakoff, actor Matthew Goode and composer Adrian Johnston
- Behind the Scenes
- Stills Gallery
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The 1-star reviews rang with criticisms of the “banal” script, “poor” acting, “weak” story and so on. To what would they give a 5-star rating? They probably did not like “Wolf Hall” either. Not one hostile review however stated that visuals were poor – that be difficult if not downright perverse – every frame is a visual treat.
It is generally reckoned that this a golden age for television drama, which is far outstripping most products of the film industry. “Dancing on the Edge”, I believe, is among the finest products of this televisual golden age, one that will be watched with pleasure in a hundred years’ time. The script - while admittedly not concerning a trouble police detective tracking down a serial killer - is sufficiently different and interesting. The elegiac pace allows time for characters to develop and reveal the multiple facets of their personalities. The heroes are not entirely heroic and the villains not entirely villainous – they are just human beings reacting to circumstance against the social mores of their time.
It is therefore a work to be enjoyed at leisure, savouring the superb acting, wonderful visuals and intriguing story.
Like all period dramas this one is overlaid with modern overtones. If one views a British film drama made in the early 1930s against this there are many inconsistencies, but these are inevitable in order to make the drama acceptable to modern audiences. Not even the royal family speak today with the strangulated vowels of upper-class speech of this period. The stilted dialogue would seem laughable today. The racial prejudices of the time have greatly diminished. Virtually everybody smoked and so on. Some of these characteristics, like racial prejudice, need emphasising in this drama in order to place the story against the background of its time.
Footnote for pedants: spotting anachronisms in period dramas can be interesting for those of a certain bent, of whom I am one. A couple that come to mind are: in a drama set in 1932/3 a Talbot Ten tourer of the late 1930s puts in an appearance and there is a supposed boat train to Dover being hauled by an LMS Stanier mogul in British Railways livery.
The six episodes focus on a Jazz band in the 1930's and how their new found success propels them into the upper echelons of society and the sinister events that unfold as a consequence. The performances are incredible, but this is hardly surprising with such a seasoned and talented cast. I'd recommend this to anyone who simply loves a good story, period piece or thriller.