B Van Heusen
Chiwetel Ejiofor (The Shadow Line), John Goodman (Treme), Jenna-Louise Coleman (Doctor Who) and Paul McCartney’s ex-girlfriend Jane Asher (Crossroads) are among the biggest names in BBC Two’s jazzy new drama Dancing on the Edge. The show is centered around a group of black musicians in 1930s Britain. The talented troupe soon catch the eye of music journalist Stanley (Matthew Goode) who uses his considerable influence to land the men some well paid gigs. The band’s rapidly growing fanbase includes none other than the future King of England – Prince George, and for a time at least it appears as if everything they touch is bound to turn to gold. However, it wouldn’t be a realistic drama if everything went to plan and rivalries, skeletons in the closet and an under current of racism soon conspire to disrupt the band’s plans.
Dancing on the Edge is aesthetically pleasing and Stephen Poliakoff’s script is fast-paced and engaging. On the other hand, Depression era Britain is given a major facelift in the production and everything and everyone seems a little bit too squeaky clean and well fed to be from that era. In terms of the sub-plots, it would be easy to dismiss the storylines as cliched or contrived but despite its shortcomings the first episode was very entertaining. Ejiofor and Goode were particulalrly strong while Goodman had a surprisingly low-key appearance. I look forward to the next installment.