7.9/10
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Marvellous (2014)

Not Rated | | Drama | TV Movie 25 September 2014
The life of Neil Baldwin, a man who has shrugged off his perceived limitations to live an incredible life.

Director:

Julian Farino

Writer:

Peter Bowker
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10 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Toby Jones ... Neil Baldwin
Gemma Jones ... Mary
Tony Curran ... Lou Macari
Nicholas Gleaves ... Rev Mark
Greg McHugh ... Malcolm
Paul Hunter ... Ringmaster
Steven Cree ... Rev. McCoist
Mona Goodwin ... Elaine
Jacqueline Redgewell Jacqueline Redgewell ... Doris
Paul Bell Paul Bell ... Lorry driver
Ben Abell Ben Abell ... Security guard
Jordan Murphy ... Laino
Oliver Ashworth ... Bomber
Toby DeCann ... Paddy
Michael Fox ... Registrar
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Storyline

Neil Baldwin, born just after World War II, is considered to have learning difficulties but he has an appetite for life and, encouraged by his mother Mary, leaves his butchery job to join the circus as Nello the Clown, being undaunted when the circus moves on without him. He moves to Keele University, where Mary has a cleaning job, appointing himself the unofficial greeter to new students, a role rewarded by an honorary degree in 2013. He also gets to manage its unofficial football team, named after him, and in 1992 talks his way into becoming the kit man and mascot of his beloved football team Stoke City. For Neil there are no boundaries - his interest in religion leads to his becoming a lay preacher whilst he presents himself at the House of Commons for tea with MP Tony Benn and at Cambridge University, where he strikes up a friendship with Prince Andrew, which results in his being on the queen's Christmas card list. With his indomitable attitude overcoming early set-backs and the ... Written by don @ minifie-1

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Stoke City's Victoria Ground has long been demolished so Crewe Alexandra's Gresty Rd and Wrexham's Racecourse ground were used to portray Stoke's former home. See more »

Quotes

Neil Baldwin: I always wanted to be happy, so I decided to be.
See more »

Connections

Features Trapeze (1956) See more »

User Reviews

 
Touching Biopic Combining Drama, Music and Real Life
18 October 2014 | by l_rawjalaurenceSee all my reviews

Peter Bowker's script tells the real-life story of Neil Baldwin (Toby Jones), who overcame his learning difficulties to become a stalwart member of Stoke City F.C.'s backroom staff under manager Lou Macari (Tony Curran), as well as undertaking a variety of other jobs such as greeting new freshmen and women at Keele University and running his own soccer team.

The production ingeniously combines dramatic action with brief interludes in which the fictional Neil encounters the real Neil and asks him questions about his life. This dramatic strategy draws attention to Baldwin's optimistic outlook on life, his enduring faith in God, and his belief that people are basically good-natured. Such qualities have given him the strength to cope with life, especially the trauma of losing his mother (played by Gemma Jones in the film).

MARVELLOUS also includes musical interludes, in which a choir sings popular songs, both secular and religious ("The Lord's My Shepherd I'll Not Want") accompanied by ukuleles. During one such sequence we see the fictional Neil participating, even though he does not really feel like it in the wake of his mother's death. Such scenes emphasize the importance of community spirit to Neil's life as a means of providing him with emotional and physical support. They serve as a musical counterpoint to the sequences set in the changing-rooms of Stoke City F.C., where Neil listens to (and sometimes participates) in the banter between Macari and his players.

Julian Farino's production eschews historical accuracy for dramatic effect; we learn at the end that Neil has worked at Keele for nearly half a century, yet the bulk of the action appears to be set in the late Eighties and early Nineties (judging from the age of the cars seen in the background). Such strategies emphasize the timelessness of the tale; we are not witnessing a period drama per se, but a triumphant chronicle of an individual overcoming adversity and carving out a niche for himself that is both professionally and personally satisfying.

Toby Jones gives a memorable performance as Neil. This versatile actor, who moves from film, to television and radio with equal facility, portrays the central character as someone whose naivété is particularly endearing. His capacity for ending conversations with logical non sequiturs is amazing, rendering his friends and acquaintances absolutely speechless. Jones' most memorable moment comes in a sequence just after his mother's death, when he sits alone in his cluttered apartment, staring at the wall, and bursts into floods of tears as he finally understands that he is now totally alone. But, true to form, he surmounts this loss and ends up achieving one of his cherished ambitions; to play for Stoke City (even if it is only a testimonial match).

MARVELLOUS is one of those understated dramas that British television does really well. Full of unexpected pleasures as well as some extremely funny lines, it deserves to be considered a modern classic.


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Details

Official Sites:

Official BBC page

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 September 2014 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Marvellous See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
See full technical specs »

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