Enjoyable and interesting documentary that is accessible without being simplistic
Charles Pooter was a middle class clerk from London who wrote the famous "Diary of a Nobody" in Punch Magazine as a weekly column. It later became a novel and was published with the name of the author, George Grossmith, who was a star of the stage at the time. This documentary looks at the origins of the diary but also at the self-importance and tragic comedy of the Pooter character a man who has had such an impact that the diary has never been out of print and has entered the English language as a descriptive word.
This documentary was screened as a sort of trailer I think, to raise awareness and give a way into the new TV version of the diary starring Hugh Bonneville. However I'm not sure if this was totally required because your average BBC4 viewer probably is well read in the world of Punch (as was) and probably uses the word "pooterish" on a weekly basis. Indeed so entertaining and informative is this documentary that I did wonder what the actual series could add on top (as it is the documentary seems to have the choice picks of clips from the series). The film serves well as a way though and explores all aspects of the character and the novel in a solid manner.
We find out about the origins in Punch, learn about the author's many (and profitable) skills and then we spend the second half getting to experience and appreciate the wit in Pooter himself. Both parts of the film are well done and the culture of the period and context of the character are well woven into the documentary as well as later influences. It is an impressive feat, making the character interesting and relevant, even if the humour won't totally appeal to all (although the modern clips are useful to help make it lively and witty with Bonneville delivering an engaging and convincing Pooter). Briers is the perfect choice of voice for the narrator as he suits the tone of the wit and the film.
Overall then an enjoyable and interesting documentary that never goes to a depth that makes it inaccessible but has enough detail and scope to avoid claims of "dumbing down" or superficiality. Entertaining and informative even if you're not target audience.
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