Today's Joanna Page

Today’s Joanna Page: Bye Bye Harry

 

Today’s Joanna Page is Bye Bye Harry, a British road movie released in 2006, of which she was the star, and that you will never have seen. Ever. Until now.

We’ve been jumping all over the place chronologically, here, so let’s recap the inexorable career rise of Ms Joanna Page. After leaving RADA in 1999, she went straight to the National Theatre for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. She continued to do well in the theatre, with roles in a series of medieval mystery plays, The Mysteries, As You Like It, What the Butler Saw, Aladdin, Doomsday, Camera Obscura, and Billy Liar (with Ralph Little), among others.

The world of film beckoned, too, with bit parts in Miss Julie and This Year’s Love, and larger parts in From Hell, Very Annie Mary, Love Actually, and Gideon’s Daughter.

And on tele, there were important roles in David Copperfield, The Cazalets, The Lost World, Ready When You Are Mr McGill, Making Waves, Mine All Mine and To The Ends of the Earth. She even found time to fit in a few radio plays and a music video in all that, too.

So by 2005/6, a starring role in a movie looked inevitable. Indeed, in his review of The Mysteries for The Independent, right at the start of her career, Robert Butler prophetically wrote, "As Eve, Joanna Page looks as if (now she’s eaten that apple) she will be the love-interest in a movie very soon."

And then it arrived: No Snow which soon became Bye Bye Harry. She’s the female lead – arguably the lead. It’s a British road movie, a ‘dark’ rom-com by experienced comedy writer Graham Alborough . It’s got noted director Robert Young at its helm. It’s got two of the country’s biggest rock stars in supporting roles. And when it was released, it featured at the country’s leading film festival. 

So why haven’t you heard of it until now? And why had you probably not heard of Joanna Page until Gavin & Stacey?

Problem is, I’ve been linguistically tricky. See, although I said it was a British road movie – and indeed it is, according to the British Council – I pulled a fast one. The bulk of the financing came from Germany and Slovakia. When I said "the country", the country I actually meant was Germany, the rock stars I mentioned were Bela B Felsenheimer and Til Schweiger (very big in Germany), and the film festival I mentioned was the Berlin film festival. 

And it’s never been released anywhere else. Not France, not Belgium, not the Netherlands. It’s certainly never been shown in Britain. And although you could get a version dubbed into German on rental in Germany, you couldn’t get the original English language version until two weeks ago – on import from Amazon.de

So without fear of contradiction, may I present for your delight the very first, most comprehensive, most definitive and probably very last English language review of Bye Bye Harry aka Liebling, wir graben Harry aus.

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Today's Joanna Page

Today’s Joanna Page/Lambert Gold: The Cazalets

Joanna Page in The Cazalets

Today’s Joanna Page – and also, in a blog crossover first, Lambert Gold – is The Cazalets, a mini-series from 2001 based on ‘The Cazalet Chronicles’ by Elizabeth Jane Howard.

Now, you may – or may not – have noticed that in many TV programmes there feature a certain group of people called ‘women’. More often than not, particularly in period dramas, they’re there to serve specific plot functions: to encourage/discourage the hero; to make tea; to bring up the children; and to be decorative and fallen in love with.

However, many noted scholars, intellectuals and TV producers are coming to the conclusion that these secondary characters could have emotions and feelings of their own; they could have their own viewpoints and opinions; they could even, in time, become the heroes – ‘heroines’ perhaps? – of some stories.

It was one such rebel faction, led by actress Joanna Lumley and producer Verity Lambert, who decided in 1998 to adapt ‘The Cazalet Chronicles’ as a mini-series. Convinced that a story of the various women and girls in the Cazalet family during the 30s and 40s could be as interesting as any similar tale about men, they scratched together co-funding from the BBC and WGBH.

An at-times grim tale that shows all the miseries that could befall even well-off women back in the ‘good old days’, the only real problem with the 2001 production is that they never had a chance to finish it.

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Today's Joanna Page

Today’s Joanna Page: To The Ends of the Earth

First, a couple of public service announcements. You can listen to Joanna Page and Kris Marshall on Tuesday’s Daily Mayo (34 minutes, 16MB) talking about Fat Pig, and it turns out that absolutely everything I said about their interpretations of the play was right. I’m a theatre genius. You should listen to it purely for that reason alone, but it’s also possibly the only time you’ll hear either actor being asked to work out the volume of a hemisphere of radius 10cm. That might float your boat, too.

Our Joanna is also going to be on The Paul O’Grady Show this Friday (5pm C4, 6pm C4+1), discussing Fat Pig again – yes, I belong to a gym that has The Paul O’Grady Show (and Robyn and The Ting Tings) playing 24/7 on its TV screens: why do you ask?

Now, on with Today’s Joanna Page, which is To The Ends of The Earth. As you might have gathered by now, I do loves a nice bit of naval fiction, particularly if it’s set in the 19th century.

Not all period naval fiction is the same, though. CS Forester’s series of books featuring Horatio Hornblower, personified on TV screens most recently by another Welsh god, Ioan Gruffudd, is about ambition, moral values, doing the right thing and the little details of life in the Royal Navy.

The Aubrey-Maturin books by Patrick O’Brian, on which the movie Master and Commander was based, are about many things including the mechanics of sailing, politics and the state of science and medicine during the times of the Napoleonic Wars. But principally they’re about the etiquette and social life on board ships and within the Navy. You’re stuck on board a ship of war for anything up to a year with a bunch of men who were probably pressed into service, rather than having volunteered, and you have very little to do: how do you keep charge? How do you while away your time?

William Golding’s “To The Ends of the Earth” is a trilogy of books that follows young aristo Edmund Talbot as he makes his way down to Australia to become a politician. As you might expect from the author of Lord of the Flies, it’s almost the flipside of the Aubrey-Maturin series: Aubrey, Maturin and the crews of the various ships Aubrey commands in the series are all jolly good chaps and fine company, with only a couple of exceptions; “To The Ends of the Earth” asks the more unpleasant question: what if you’re stuck on board a ship populated by complete bastards and you’re not too well laden with social skills yourself? What do you do then?

Book 1, the Booker Prize-winning Rites of Passage, concerns the downfall of one of Talbot’s fellow passengers, the Reverend Colley and is something of a mystery story – what happened to the Reverend that brought him so low? Close Quarters follows on and concerns an obviously ill Talbot and his instant love for Marion Chumley, a passenger on another ship they encounter. The third book, Fire Down Below, concludes the voyage of the increasingly unreliable HMS Pandora.

In 2005, “To The Ends of the Earth” was turned into a series of three TV movies for BBC2. Guess who they got to play Marion.
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Joanna Page

The hottest (and, best of all, Welshest) woman on television at the moment, as determined by readers of the blog. All references to hotness will be to Joanna Page. Not that we talk about hotness a lot round here. But if we were to talk about hotness, that’s who we’d be referring to. Clear?

As well as Gavin & Stacey, she also appears in the blog’s regular “Today’s Joanna Page” feature (aka “Page of the Day”), in which I try to watch and listen to everything she’s been in then review it. It’s not exactly up there with Danny Wallace’s or Dave Gorman’s efforts, but we all need projects and she’s been in some good stuff. And she’s always been good even if the stuff hasn’t – I’m looking at you here, From Hell.

Today's Joanna Page

Today’s Joanna Page: Love Soup

Today’s Joanna Page, despite the best efforts of the BBC, is Love Soup, David Renwick’s slightly odd look at love that stars Tamsin Greig, Sheridan Smith and the superfluous one from Ashes to Ashes.

I caught an episode of it once to see what Sheridan Smith was up to in her time off from Two Pints and wasn’t desperately impressed. This time round was better, notably because of Joanna Page who got to exercise her acting muscles in a surprisingly subtle way. More on that later.

Strangely, Love Soup seems to have more in common with Jonathan Creek than Renwick’s One Foot in the Grave, with bizarre love mysteries to be solved in outlandish ways. It’s not great, but it’s okay: as much as I love Tamsin Greig – and indeed Sheridan Smith – Greig’s character, Alice, is just dull (although that’s probably the point) and Smith’s doesn’t really have a lot of depth. Still, it’s only half an hour long and nearly at the end of series two, so I’ve probably missed out on a lot.

Anyway, more pics of JP after the jump, including a great big spoiler. If you haven’t seen the episode yet and intend to, don’t go any further.

Incidentally, I do warn you that if you have still to see it, do not watch it where anyone can see you: it is definitely Not Suitable For The Office. Or indeed public transport. 

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