Sunday, 5 October 2008

Never wear nylon bought for you by a blind person

"I wasn't always a slightly fey window dresser in glamorous New York; I was a slightly fey schoolboy in humdrum Reading."
And so begins the new BBC comedy Beautiful People, based on the memoirs of New York window dresser (sorry- Creative Director for Barneys store) Simon Doonan, as told through a series of flashbacks to his teenage years in the 90s.

We watched the first episode last night, and I am hooked! As one would expect from a piece that is steered by the supremely talented Jonathan Harvey (Beautiful Thing, Gimme Gimme Gimme), this is a whirlwind of weird and wonderful characters, fantasy sequences, camp, dysfunctional family life, grim working class estates, tarts, and did I mention - camp?!

As Hermione Eyre, writing in the Independent on Sunday, says, "It's like the Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, except camp. Screamingly, thrashingly, life-threateningly camp."

Simon and his best friend "Kylie"/Kyle escape their boring surroundings by "doing everything that normal lads do - pretending to be Canadian in public places, working out complicated dance routines to 80s floorfillers and doling out unwanted fashion advice to the proletariat of Reading ('Ditch the fringe love, it ain't working')."

Family life is eccentric to say the least - sassy Mum and (quite cute) Dad are drinkers and generally bonkers, sister Ashlene is a wannabe slut, and blind Auntie Hayley (Meera Syal) is a sort of hippy with a guide dog that is more blind than she is. Their sheer joy at drinking, brawling, bitching and theatricality - look out for their brilliant rendition of the "Egoiste" perfume advert - is hilarious. It's like The Royle Family with show tunes.

But it is the experiences of the two boys and their exuberant gayness that makes for the best comic moments. When young Simon is caught out stealing the local slag's dress and wearing it "to see what I'd look like", his parents are understandably concerned. "What did you say to him?" says Dad. "I said what any mother would", says Mum - "What's wrong with my bloody dresses?!"

In the words of this wise teenager: "Two fashion pointers: never wear nylon, and never wear nylon bought for you by a blind person".

Unmissable! - and the opening episode is on BBC iPlayer for the next week or so.

Here's a taster of a future programme in the series:

Review in The Stage


  1. oh wow! How cool. I've read all of his books actually. Love him.

    1. Who couldn't? Hope you get to see the TV series - it is a real treat! Jx


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