Today’s Joanna Page: Bleak Expectations

Bleak Expectations

Today’s Joanna Page was going to be Radio 4’s Dickens piss-take, Bleak Expectations:

The plot revolves around Philip “Pip” Bin and his two sisters, Poppy and Pippa, whose seemingly ideal life is disrupted by the death of their father and the madness of their mother. They are then locked away by their guardian, Mr. Gently Benevolent, in St. Bastard’s, the most vicious boarding school in England, and St. Bitch’s, a nearby convent. Pip and his sisters attempt to free themselves of their guardian with the help of Harry Biscuit, whose father invented the biscuit.

I knew she was in it: her IMDB page says she is* and IMDB would never lie, would it?

I listened to the whole first series, trying to work out which character she might be. It’s actually pretty good if you know Dickens even vaguely, although it does remind me of all those skits you used to write in sixth form where you’d play on words, looking for a silly alternative meaning to every line and then running with the sillier meaning. But it’s very funny all the same, and Anthony Head’s great as the evil Mr Benevolent. I’ll probably scout out the second series when I can, and a third series has just been recorded.

Anyway, for a second, I thought she might be Flora Dies-Early, a pastiche of David Copperfield‘s Dora Spenlow, whom she played in the most recent BBC1 adaptation. But she wasn’t.

Was IMDB mistaken? Surely not. So I investigated further…

I scoured the Internet and lo-and-behold, I found out Joanna’s voiceover page (‘Bubbly Welsh Lass with Versatility and Great Comedy Timing’), which is filled with clips from her past work, including radio ads for the St David’s shopping centre in Cardiff and – ooh – her speaking Welsh.

But it also includes a clip of her in Bleak Expectations playing Pippa Bin. Huh.

Guess what? She’s only in the pilot – the part was recast for the series and is now played by Suzy Kane (who pops up in Gavin & Stacey as a BBC news reporter). Our Joanna wasn’t the only one recast: Tom Hollander was also in the pilot:

No idea why they recast, although Mark at The British Comedy Guide tells me he’s going to interview the writer, Mark Evans, later in the month, and will ask him.

So bang goes that idea. So instead, here’s a picture of her from the forthcoming issue of Harper’s Bazaar, looking a bit like she did in that Mark Owen vid, and another from the third series of Gavin & Stacey. Lush.

Joanna Page in Harper's Bazaar


* It might have been corrected by now, since I told them the error of their ways


  • I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.