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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Trevor Eve's portrayal of this most complicated of TV celebrities is
just incredible. Hughie Green always had a reputation as not the nicest
of men (off screen) but this drama really helps to flesh out his
personality and bring him back to life.
Eve immerses himself in the role in a piece of method acting that would run Robert De Niro a close race. He totally nails all the mannerisms and characteristics that made Green such a memorable character. His appalling treatment of his wife and children is addressed (the scene where he shows his son a train set but won't let him play with it is both blackly amusing and yet hints at the monster within) and yet the scene when he comforts a child contestant who has been sick through nerves, or standing up to a racist TV producer shows that he wasn't totally without redeeming qualities.
The support cast are all wonderful although Mark Benton looks nothing like Jess Yates, and he has a very obviously fake bald pate on. In fact i found myself wondering just how Green managed to become such a firm favourite when he did so many awful things to people, including helping to ruin Paula Yates already damaged life. And yet somehow Green was never short of female admirers. He seemed to live a wonderfully weird life, with sex and alcohol very much at the forefront (and some of the sex scenes are quite graphic)and yet the script has its moments of bizarre black comedy (the scene where Yates and Green sing on national TV is an example of this). Also i should say the period detail is spot on (right down to smallest detail like recreating a period Thames TV studio and an audience looking like they really had stepped out of 1972).
This excellent little film shows that the BBC can still produce excellent drama when its not showing reality show rubbish.
As a child growing up in the UK in the late 60's and early 70's, it was impossible to miss Hughie Green on ITV with shows like "Double Your Money", "Opportunity Knocks" and even the one I remember most, the short-lived "The Sky's The Limit". Thus I was bound to be fascinated by this warts and all dramatisation of his life and times, even if ultimately, as so often is the case with these fact-ion portrayals, one suspects a good deal of licence is taken with the truth. Was Green for example haunted by the image of his mother caught in-flagranto with another man while his father wept downstairs? Did he late in life actually attend incognito a premiere where his unwitting illegitimate daughter, the TV personality, Paula Yates, was making an appearance? Are we seriously expected to believe that the arch-conservative Green watched and railed at Bob Geldof on Live-Aid, as his unbeknownst errant son-in-law? Somehow I doubt it. However as tabloid-TV drama it certainly kept me watching, right from his early days as a womanising TV star on the up, to his rivalry with his nemesis Jess Yates, culminating in the long-standing affair with the latter's wife which eventually produced Paula, to his days as a washed-up yesterday man, when in common with other 60's and 70's UK light entertainment luminaries like Benny Hill, Jimmy Saville and Mike Yarwood (to name but three), he found himself on the scrap-heap, totally out of touch with the times. Although showing Green for the egotistic and selfish monster he seemed to be, less convincing, by far are the attempts by the writer to effectively balance the ledger, at one point showing Green as an unlikely crusader against TV's in-bred racism and at another ludicrously inventing the phrase "reality TV" (although I suspect an in-joke here!). I also didn't quite get from the show the scale to which Green really was a major star, imitated by dozens of impressionists and dominating early evening TV in ways which Terry Wogan and Noel Edmunds could only dream. Trevor Eve is almost but not quite there with his characterisation, voice and physical transformation. Good at least to see him eschewing the irritating mannerisms which so mar his appearances in the UK crime series "Waking The Dead". The supporting actors playing the lesser known figures in Green's life are very good, although it was harder to accept the portrayals of better known figures like Jeremy Isaacs and of course Jess Yates, where I think a closer physical resemblance would have helped veracity. All in all though, to mix my cult UK talent show-metaphors, "O'ill give it 7" - out of ten. And I mean that most sincerely!
In his day Hughie Green was as famous in Britain as Simon Cowell is
nowadays . I do remember him from OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS and also remember
my mother hating him with a vengeance but never understood the hate .
In fact one day when he turned up in Rothesay to visit Lena Zavaroni a
large amount of the population came to greet him when he arrived at the
ferry . In later years however I understood why a " celebrity " would
be so disliked . Even watching him in footage he comes across as smug ,
egocentric and one wonders if his catchphrase " I mean that most
sincerely folks " wasn't irony at its most appropriate ?
MOST SINCERELY chronicles the success of Green and one instantly becomes aware how difficult it is to portray someone so unlikable . In many ways it suffers the same fault as RAGING BULL in that the audience can't empathise let alone find any redeeming qualities in the protagonist . It says something when actor Trever Eve - who by the way is superb in this - had reservations about " portraying an irredeemable monster "
There's also a couple of other problems . One is that the screenplay seems to stick too closely to the 2001 documentary THE REAL HUGHIE GREEN . We see Green get in to an argument with Thames boss Jeremy Isaacs about holding an edition of OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS from a nuclear submarine base and we see a recreation of the jaw dropping moment where Green goes in to a pseudo Churchillian rant about how 1976 should be a watershed year where Britain can become great again . Compelling but what is the backstory to Green's politics ?
Another problem is the inclusion of rather explicit sex scenes . Considering Green was born in 1920 some of the scenes must have placed him well in to middle age when they happened . Believe me the idea any narcissistic middle aged drunk having sex ( Usually with someone's wife or someone young enough to be his daughter ) is squirm inducing at the best of times but if it's Hughie Green then implication alone would have been more than enough
In all this isn't really a hatchet job on a famous personality from yesteryer because you can't really find anything even mediocre to say about the man . Everyone seemed to hate him and bare in mind he was merely a TV talent show presenter where as at least TV villains in the 21st Century like Simon Cowell did spend many years building up success before they became famous . If the actor playing the role claims " He was a truly irredeemable monster " then that's all you need to know
Hughie Green's catchphrase "and I mean that most sincerely" only drew
attention to his patent insincerity. Ironic that this purveyor of
vacuous populist TV should be honoured by a quality semi-biographical
drama. It manages to be engaging, entertaining, enlightening as well as
at times witty (the coin tossed to the cigarette-seller) - a
combination that Hughie never managed in his entire life. Sincere
Hughie was a heel. The high quality of the writing is fortunately
matched by the acting - not too many actors would be qualified to play
monster ego Hughie, Trevor Eve does real fine. It also makes clear that
in his not very respected field of cheap and cheerful TV, Green was in
his way a great professional and demanded commensurate respect.
In every way a superior production - something that never could be said about the original's own.
Hindsight has shown that Hughie Green (Trevor Eve) was a patently insincere person cultivating a morally upright public facade while pursuing an immoral existence in private. But this representation does not acknowledge that he was one of British television's biggest stars from the late Fifties right through to the late Seventies. OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS was a guaranteed ratings winner on a Monday night for Rediffusion (later Thames Television), providing the springboard for nascent talents such as Les Dawson. Tony Basgallop's script concentrates primarily on his off-stage career - despite cultivating a morally upright public persona, he was too self-interested to be an effective parent, treating his children Christopher (Christopher Gillman-Wells) and Linda (Megan Convery) with acute disdain. Although fond of frequent sexual encounters, Green basically disliked women - not only his wife but all of his partners. The film suggests that this was chiefly due to a traumatic experience in childhood when he caught his mother in flagrante delicto with another man, while his father (Ian Cairns) was reduced to tears. The film makes much of Green's tempestuous relationship with producer Jess Yates (Mark Benton), another star of mid-Seventies television with a disreputable private life. Yates produced Green's Yorkshire Television quiz Show THE SKY'S THE LIMIT which ran for four years with a regular Friday night slot. The two of them regularly quarrelled; it was obviously a conflict between two incredible egotists. Eve recreates Green's complex personality in a highly effective manner - bringing out the contrast between the affable on screen personality and the complex person off-screen. The other roles are mostly colorless, although Danny Webb gives an effectively greasy portrayal of News of the World journalist Noel Botham, perpetually on the lookout for a salacious story relating to Green's private life.
Hughie Green was a TV legend, and impossible not to catch on TV. Hughie
Green, Most Sincerely is a wonderful portrayal of a talented if very
flawed man. The best thing about it for me was the acting. All the
support acting is great, while Mark Benton is I agree not ideal
physically he still gives an above decent acting performance, but it is
the lead performance that really captivates. Trevor Eve is superb as
Green and nails all his mannerisms and personality traits perfectly.
The period detail also convinces. The photography is always lovely to watch, and the costumes, sets and scenery are beautifully evoked. Even the audience is surprisingly authentic. The script is excellently written, poignant and witty with a healthy dose of black humour, and the story while episodic perhaps in a way is accurate, compelling and covers a lot of aspects of Green's life.
All in all, a wonderful drama and worth catching for particularly the revelation that is the lead performance. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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