Julie, a young woman seeking an escape from the encroaching drudgery of domestic life, and Maureen, her frumpish friend, prepare for a talent show at a seedy club.





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Episode complete credited cast:
Bill Waddington ...
Nat Jackley ...
Kevin Lloyd ...
Peter Ellis ...
Sue Glover ...
Cathy Christmas
Andrew Dodge ...
Cathy's Accompanist


The setting is backstage at Bunter's, a seedy club in the north of England. It's dusty and cluttered, and the toilet has no lock on the door. To these unpromising surroundings comes Julie - hoping that this talent contest try-out will bring fame and an escape from the crushing mediocrity of her life - accompanied by her overweight, awkward friend. Written by Anonymous

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5 August 1979 (UK)  »

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Featured in Let's Do It: A Tribute to Victoria Wood (2016) See more »

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User Reviews

Excellent Evocation of a Now-Lost World
22 December 2015 | by (London) – See all my reviews

Based on her stage-play of the same name, TALENT focuses on the lives of two long-established friends, Julie (Julie Walters), and Maureen (Victoria Wood), as they go to a seedy Manchester club for a talent competition. Julie is due to sing there, but is almost paralyzed by nerves. Maureen acts as a source of support, both physical as well as moral. In their brief sojourn at the club they encounter a gallery of eccentrics including a music-hall act (Bill Waddington, Nat Jackley), Julie's ex-boyfriend, now an organist at the club (Kevin Lloyd) and a priapic MC (Peter Ellis).

Baz Taylor's production evokes a long-lost televisual world of single plays shot mostly on videotape with filmed inserts. This form of dramatic presentation allowed for a concentration on character rather than incident; we actually listen to what the protagonists have to say. TALENT, an early work of Victoria Wood, reveals the author's unique ear for the banalities of contemporary conversation, where the choice of subjects veers wildly from Julie's make-up to the struggles at home with their respective sets of parents. The songs are delivered direct to camera, accompanied by a musical accompaniment off-screen; the tunes are unmemorable, but we can nonetheless appreciate Wood's brilliance as a lyricist.

The world of the northern club seldom exists now, while talent contests have become much more up-market with the onset of shows such as THE X FACTOR. TALENT vividly evokes the seedy life backstage, where ordinary people believed - for the most part erroneously - that they would be plucked from obscurity and transformed into stars. Attitudes towards sexuality were also very different then: Ellis's compère assumes quite blithely that all women are there for the taking, and turns on all his oleaginous charm to ensnare them.

The two lead actors demonstrate their inane understanding of one another's abilities, while the production contains some quite wonderful cameos from Waddington (later to enjoy a successful career as Percy Sugden in CORONATION STREET) and former music-hall artiste Jackley. TALENT is only sixty-five minutes long, but it is a memorable experience.

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