Dancing on the Edge (TV Mini-Series 2013– ) Poster

(2013– )

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Highest quality as expected from Stephen Poliakof
Murray Morison26 February 2013
Cannot understand the current rating of this outstanding drama. The story, set over a few weeks in 1933, follows a talented black leader of a jazz band as he tries to get his band established in the London club and hotel scene. He soon finds he is meeting with royalty but that something dark is also going on.

Dancing on the Edge explores the slimy corruption of real evil as royalty, masonry, bigotry and sensuality all combine to provide a very particular view of the upper reaches of British Society.

The production values are excellent, and the 1930's are recreated in remarkable detail. The acting is uniformly excellent, with Chiwetell Ejiofor providing a compelling performance of a man caught up in circumstances spinning beyond his control.

Highly recommended as BBC drama at its best.
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All round excellent - and no spoilers here!
petervintner16 September 2013
Firstly, at the time of writing (16 September 2013) the information for this on the main page is incorrect. It says this film/series is not yet released. However, I've just watched all 5 episodes on DVD (2 DVDs to be precise), plus the extra almost 1 hour "interview" between Stanley and Louis. The DVD release date was March 2013.

Like another reviewer I simply don't understand some of the poor ratings for this film. It was an immaculate production with an excellent cast for, I think, a cracking, well written story. It has style, suspense, humour, sensuality, good looks, great music and, as with so much of Stephen Poliakoff's work, a lot of intelligent dialogue and some fairly long scenes. But that's why I'm a fan of Poliakoff's work - it is literate, well researched and observed, and you have to pay attention. It rewards that attention many time over.

I must say there were some performances that were a revelation to me. Jacqueline Bisset for a start, and the late Mel Smith. But everyone was really outstanding in the parts they played. Joanna Vanderham is astonishingly mature well beyond her years (19 or 20 years old during the production) and is destined I feel to be a great actress. One cannot comment on this production without mentioning the singers - 2 established actresses who had never sung in public, in theatre, TV or on film before. They did their own singing and were amazingly good.
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Brilliant new drama
stephanie alden5 February 2013
This new series has been trailed for weeks and the trailer certainly caught my attention so it already had a lot to live up to. I am pleased to say that it did not fail and I have very much enjoyed the first two episodes and looking forward to next week's already. Some of the music is quite exciting but I am not sure it is true to the jazz music which was being listened to in the early thirties but nevertheless very enjoyable. I like the casting,particularly the female roles and specifically Jess, Rosie,Pamela and the photographer. Jacqueline Bisset is excellent as is the Stanley character. Hope it maintains the momentum but it will be disappointing if Jess has been killed off already. Would expect to see more of Rosie as there must be some sort of love triangle to develop.
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I loved it!
skipp-525 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Personally, I was glued to Dancing on the Edge - Whilst I found the story intriguing, what really captivated me was the whole look and feel of the production - the costume, scenery, Architecture, and the overall 1930's feel to everything. I thought it was lavish, and very classy, and each scene a treat for the eyes. I also felt that the acting was superb,with some great performances from what was a terrific cast. The final episode in particular, with Julian edging nearer a breakdown, edged up the tension and whilst it seemed obvious what would happen in the end, the scene where Masterson confided in Lady Cremone of his love for Julian and his final demise in the café were captivating.
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Dancing in an alien landscape
Raymondander26 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
When was England portrayed as such a weird place? Director Stephen Poliakoff has served up a wonderfully realised vision of a land offering unthinking obeisance to its Princes while casual racism and anti-Semitism is unchecked by the surface good manners. In Poliakoff's 1930s London a black jazz band finds success and tragedy. But this is not just a drama about jazz, as some of Britain's better known critics seemed to expect. Dancing on the Edge casts its net wider than that with an evocation of mood and time both effective and affecting. Some of the sets are worthy of fine painters. Even Degas is referenced in one witty little scene with a ballet class.

The BBC deserves praise for allowing the money, air time and creative freedom to realise the director's vision. We're likely to see a lot more of young stars like Tom Hughes (the debonair and highly-strung Julian) and Joanna Vanderham (the sister Julian is so dependent on).

Stand-outs in an unusually strong cast of characters are Chiwetel Ejiofor's Louis and Matthew Goode's Stanley. John Goodman puts in as strong a performance as he gave in Oscar-winning Argo, a slight production compared to Dancing on the Edge.
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Very Disappointed Final Episodes-Semi Spoiler
dannykalifornia24 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
There are so many things to say that is wonderful about the first few episodes of Dancing on the Edge. The visuals were great, the music catchy, the characters interesting. I couldn't wait to see the next episode. There was so much intrigue and suspense.

Then on the 4th episode it seems that the writers were told that this wasn't going to be an ongoing project and to wrap it up in a few episodes as possible. It was at this time that the show lost all suspense and interest. There were so many ways they could have developed this program, but just took short cuts and then wham the final episode was just the worst possible of all 6, (5 including the interview episode).

They could have developed more on the lives of the two rich protagonist. They could have delved more into why Julian was the way he was. They could have told us more about Sarah and her father...or even the basic relationship between Louie and Sarah. It would have been nice to know more about Jessie, but it was not to be...she was far more tragic than her role portrayed.

I could go on....but I won't. Watch it for the 1st three episode then bail. If you want all six, you will wish you had those hours lost on viewing it back.

Seriously disappointing.
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Vivid Evocation of a Hitherto Undiscovered Aspect of British History
l_rawjalaurence14 July 2013
Based on a hitherto undiscovered aspect of British history, DANCING ON THE EDGE tells of the fortunes of an African-Caribbean jazz band in 1930s upper-class British society. Louis Lester serves an apprenticeship in the United States, then takes London by storm with the help of talented singers Jessie and Carla. Initially managed by Wesley, who drives a hard bargain but manages to offend just about everyone, the band is eventually guided by white fixer Stanley, who just so happens to run one of London's leading music papers, a rival to the much better- known "Melody Maker." Poliakoff has a fascinating story to tell of a basically racist society that nonetheless embraces the Louis Lester jazz band, which provides the kind of music than no one has ever heard before. The band are so successful that they even attract the interest of the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VIII). At the same time polite society has a seamy underbelly; if anyone dares to question the idea of white supremacy, then they are summarily dealt with. This rule applies to white and nonwhite people alike. The television series attracted mixed reviews on its premiere in February and March 2013; after having read Poliakoff's excellent screenplay, I am rather nonplussed as to why DANCING ON THE EDGE generated this kind of reaction.
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A mixed bag
pawebster26 February 2013
Good points: Matthew Goode was excellent in his role as Stanley. His character was original and he carried the show, in my opinion. Most of the others were all right and did what they could with the material. The story kept me watching and interested to the end.

Bad points: It took place in a depopulated London (reminding me of 'Survivors' or 'Day of the Triffids') and never convinced me for a second that it was 1933. The tame music seemed very unlikely to offend anybody at that date, when much 'hotter' jazz had been available for at least a decade previously. Some of it sounded more like the swing music of the forties. Tom Hughes' character and acting was ho-hum. The hiding from the police became silly and unbelievable in the last episode.

Like others, I cannot understand why the BBC think this director is something special and throw money in his direction. But it's worth seeing.
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A bit...."off"
freda7474 November 2013
You get the gist of this quickly. Its a mystery set in 1930's England around a black jazz band and the near murder of one of its girl singers. But I was thrown in the first episode by the bizarre way the people were characterized. 1)*** Americans- angry, violent, sexually deviant and slightly uncivilized. No explanation for this. The white American man is insanely rich, fat a woman beater. The black American man was gone from the show fairly quickly. He was incompetent as a manger, thuggishly angry, obsessed with having sex with white women, and - despite having a death sentence waiting for him back in RACIST America- unable to control his violent ego and "attitude" enough to stay out of trouble and not get deported. 2)*** Rich/Royal/ Upper class English- slightly stupid, slightly racist, slightly horny, and potentially dangerous. Black English Jazz band- the band and the music/performances in this program are fairly bad. Not at all what was. 3)*** Black English female singers- This one really threw me! Jesse, the thinner lighter of the 2 singers is being swooned over as if she were stunning. When in fact, the actress is barely attractive. It seems to be an odd English thing to describe mixed race or light skinned people as beautiful without having to actually get one that fits the bill (which an American production would have done). Carla, the darker- but full figured black singer has a much better face. Her bone structure is very striking and on par with the white actresses- yet she is being sold as the less attractive and less talented of the two. Jessie is also being offered as a GREAT singer, when the actresses voice is ...well....nothing. Carla- the darker skinned actress is being played as naive and unambitious, and slightly dim witted- wanting only to prop up her better looking, more talented friend Jess. Its almost bizarre.

Of course, the only good people are English and socially in the middle. The white woman photographer willing to love a black man, the black English man- who is very even tempered and plays piano, and the white, lower middle classwriter/manager of the band. *****THIS IS NOT A SPOILER- I have a feeling they will make Carla- the dark skinned girl singer the killer or co-killer (with one of the upper class, stereotypically defective males). She is too tall and too physically large to be good. It fits the weird formula of this mini-series***
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The story so far - spoiler free
imattheendofmytether16 February 2013
Well with two episodes to go I really am disappointed with this show. The trailers looked exciting, sexy and well... gripping. What have I seen instead? Stereotypes, lots of "terribly, terribly, awfully, awfully" speaking and contrived scenes.

I don't get why Stanley is so hell bent on pushing the Louis Lester Band (although it's more a one man show as the rest of the band are sidelined except the two singers). The larger of the two singers is just so wet I want to slap her around just to get some form of response that isn't "wide-eyed wonder". Jess - well just don't care what happens to her.

Where is the racism I was expecting to see? - sorry one mention of a couple on a boat wanting their cutlery changed, and seeing the same thing demonstrated in the dinner hall moments later, does not make for racial tensions.

Where is the jazz for that matter? A program about jazz should have more jazz music in it, not two full songs and a few snippets. I don't ask for much but there should be more music involved somewhere.

All the rejects from the Great Gatsby (sorry rest of the cast) are just annoying, pouty privileged spoilt brats who are ultimately forgettable.

There is only one character I want to know more about and that is the legend that is John Goodman - more of him and his rise to wealth please.

The story line is meant to be bringing Jazz to the old ballroom scene of London. While I don't know much about the history of London jazz I think it started a little earlier than 1932. The writing just seems stayed and pompous, I don't know about any of SP's work, but I am not sure I want to see other works by him. Don't get me wrong I love a slow burning thriller (Tinker Tailor TV series is as slow as it gets), but there is no "thrill" no tension, no drama - for a drama that's not good.

I don't think I am alone in thinking this, but there are just as many who love this show. Watch it for yourself, but don't expect to be knotted up with tension waiting for the next episode, instead sit back with a cold gin on ice and enjoy the costumes, scenery and lighting.
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