CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews the weekend’s TV: Keeley, Lumley, Havers… they’re all absolutely fabulous, darling!
We’ve been here before. Mum is a scatty mess, rarely without a coffee mug brimming with wine in her hand, clueless about money and unable to concentrate on one thing for more than a few seconds. Her teenage daughter is the sane, sensible one.
And then there’s fire-breathing Joanna Lumley, who will say anything to anyone because she simply doesn’t give two hoots.
Finding Alice (ITV) is Ab Fab, converted from a sitcom into a darkly witty thriller. There’s champagne, darling, and endless rows in the kitchen, and a queue of brilliant supporting stars.
Nobody smokes, because it isn’t 1993 any more, but everything else is perfectly in place.
Finding Alice (ITV) is Ab Fab, converted from a sitcom into a darkly witty thriller. Keeley Hawes (pictured) plays Alice, the utterly irresponsible mother who has never bothered to learn how to do anything for herself
Keeley Hawes plays Alice, the utterly irresponsible mother who has never bothered to learn how to do anything for herself.
It’s so much easier to leave it to somebody else — especially if that someone is her patient only daughter, Charlotte (Isabella Pappas), who tucks her into bed at night and wakes her up with a bottle of hangover tablets in the morning.
When we first met Alice, she was having a crisis that even Ab Fab’s Edina Monsoon might regard as a trifle airheaded. She’d lost her fridge. It didn’t take long to understand she’d lost more than that.
Alice moved in to her new house the night before with husband Harry (Jason Merrells). She nipped to the bathroom and, when she came out, he was lying dead at the foot of the stairs.
But the real stroke of casting genius is with Alice’s parents, Sarah and Roger. Once you’ve thought of Joanna Lumley and Nigel Havers, you realise no one else could be Keeley’s mum and dad
Writers Roger Goldby and Simon Nye, who met working on another of Keeley’s shows, The Durrells, set up the story and introduced the all-star cast in a rattling series of scenes that quickly had me hooked.
Harry’s parents, Gerry and Minnie, are played by Kenneth Cranham and Gemma Jones, who stroll in whenever they fancy. He’s gruff, she witters and it’s plain they regard the house as practically their second home. Worse, it turns out they own it, thanks to a business dodge by wheeler-dealer Harry.
But the real stroke of casting genius is with Alice’s parents, Sarah and Roger. Once you’ve thought of Joanna Lumley and Nigel Havers, you realise no one else could be Keeley’s mum and dad.
Miss Lumley has all the best lines as heartless Sarah. Her first words, when she sees her newly bereaved daughter, are: ‘What are you wearing!?’ She takes one look at where Harry died and says: ‘No bannisters, which is ridiculous.’
It was cocktails rather than champagne for Fiona Bruce on the Antiques Roadshow (BBC1), as she took advantage of a brief lull between lockdowns last summer to convene her experts at Christchurch Park in Ipswich
And Harry hasn’t been dead 24 hours before Mum tells Alice briskly: ‘You won’t like this, but you’ll meet someone else, in time.’ Cynical Sarah might be right. Her daughter and a morgue attendant were flirting within five minutes.
Could there be romance in the air already? Better put the Bolly on ice, darling.
It was cocktails rather than champagne for Fiona Bruce on the Antiques Roadshow (BBC1), as she took advantage of a brief lull between lockdowns last summer to convene her experts at Christchurch Park in Ipswich.
The usual conventions were observed, including the one that insists no one must whoop, ‘I’m rich! Ha-ha-ha! Rich, I tell you!’ when they discover the true value of Aunt Mildred’s heirlooms. ‘You can’t really put a price on a memory,’ one chap said solemnly, about his Mickey Mouse clockwork toy.
But the lady whose late mother bought a book of cocktail recipes at a jumble sale for pennies was more candid when it turned out to be worth £800.
Her mum, she decided, ‘would say sell it and go to Salzburg for the weekend’. A smashing idea . . . for a later date, perhaps.
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