Today’s Joanna Page is Ready When You Are Mr McGill, a 2003 remake of Jack Rosenthal’s famous 1976 play.
Rosenthal is best known for creating London’s Burning and for writing the first ever episode of Coronation Street as well as famous plays such as Play For Today‘s Bar Mitzvah Boy and P’Tang, Yang, Kipperbang. In Ready When You Are Mr McGill, he turned his attention to television.
The original play, made for Granada, focused on the filming of a single scene of a TV show, in which just about everything can go wrong, does go wrong, and Mr McGill, one of the extras, does everything he can to help out and deliver his all-important line before the end of the day.
ITV, back in 2002/3 when it had a little bit of cash and was using big names to draw in the crowds, decided to remake the play as a one and a half hour movie. Starring Tom Courtenay as Joe McGill, Bill Nighy as the egotistical director, Amanda Holden as herself and Phil Davis as the cameraman, it also featured comedy luminaries including Tamsin Greig, Sally Phillips, Sam Kelly, Stephen Moore and Stephen Mangan.
It more or less followed the original play’s plot, but was updated to cope with modern television politics and production – and changing it to the filming of a cop show instead of a spy show. But to pad it out for an extra half hour runtime, there’s an additional sub-plot about Babs Carter, an actress who’s a bit worried about her nude scene and who does everything she can to get out of it. Playing Babs Carter: Joanna Page.
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