Let's face it, the film is grainy - this 'made for TV' film was filmed a long time ago - but very watchable and certainly most enjoyable. Nigel Hawthorne (Yes, Minister, Yes Prime Minister, The Madness of King George etc) is near his superb best as the head of London's taxi knowledge examiners. The four supporting cast members who sit for The Knowledge execute their roles to a high standard. If you like British comedy/drama - and this film has both - then it's well-worth seeing. Would have gone to 5 stars but the quality could be better.
It would be hard to deny that this is Mr Maureen Lipman's best comedy drama. Every real-life London cabbie has seen this film and knows it off by heart. "Manor House to Gipton Square." Would-be cabbies recite routes verbatim like children learning their times tables. Grown men are reduced to tears in the interrogation sessions, called "appearances." The dry, sardonic humour of Mr Burgess "I won't take offence if anyone here decides to call me 'Sir,'" the examiner, has caused this reader to burst into uncontrolled laughter and replay the appearance scenes over and over again. This is one film that you will want to watch over and over again.
Bought for nostalgic reasons: I saw this film long before moving to London, then when living in London everytime I saw someone on a moped with a clipboard I thought 'The Knowledge!'. Last time I was in London, this summer, I saw the mopeds with the clipboards again and decided I wanted to revive my memory, so I bought the film. It lived up to my expectations, which can't be said for the cabby whom I once asked to drive me home after a late night at work, only to find out that he did not know the address (in South Ken.). If you like London, you'll like this film.
It's always nice when you revisit something after 35 years, something which you recall very fondly, and you're not disappointed in the slightest. And I wasn't. The highlight is clearly Nigel Hawthorne's examiner. I'm sure much of his behaviour must have been improvised. But the entire cast is excellent and their various back stories are told with a great deal of warmth and humour. Michael Elphick and Maureen Lipman have never been better. The seventies backdrop is also extremely evocative. I'd heartily recommend this to anyone of an age to remember this time.
I watched this film when it first came out over 30 years ago and recently was in London with my 13 year old Grand-daughter and when she asked why people were riding round London on mopeds with big clip-boards on the handlebars, I told her about this film and resolved to get it for her if possible to watch and I'm really pleased I did. Wonderful depiction and I'm sure by the look of the numbers of people doing the "Knowledge" in London to this day, the same applies.
A little dated but totally compelling this lovable story about a few characters from various walks of life who decide to become London taxi drivers is a delight to watch and remember. Nigel Hawthorne is at his best as the examiner; it's worth watching the film for his scenes alone. Highly recommended.
A comedy gem from 1979 concerning the trials and tribulations of four characters trying to gain “The Knowledge” which will qualify them as London cabbies. Their individual quests are interesting and entertaining, but the film is stolen by Nigel Hawthorne who turns in a priceless performance as the sadistic (or is he?) examiner, putting the candidates through their paces in a tour de force of comic acting. He is superb and the film is worth watching just for his performance.
It’s also interesting to look back on what life was like nearly forty years ago. And I wonder if potential cabbies still have to undergo this torture nowadays. King’s Cross to Trafalgar Square? Just set the Satnav.
Great for all cabbies, knowledge boys or the public who need to know what all cabbies go through to get their licence, to ferry you about! Watch it and I'm sure you'll tip your next cab driver very handsomely!