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Beautiful People - the Eurovision episode

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Jon Plowman | 15:40 UK time, Friday, 20 November 2009

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Now you might have expected that, like last week this blog would have been written by Jonathan Harvey (the writer of the show) but he has come up with an excuse which, as excuses go, is even better than "the dog ate my homework".

His excuse is - wait for it - "I broke my internet!" Purlease! Anyway, it means that you get the musings of the Exec Producer of Beautiful People, me. Before you ask, the answer to the question "what does an Executive Producer do exactly?" is "turn up at the location for lunch and laugh". Both of those things were easy on this show because we had fantastic catering from caterers who were very funny.

Anyway, on to the episode in which we got to recreate the Eurovision Song Contest of 1998 which was held in Birmingham and hosted by Terry Wogan and Ulrika Jonson. Now I realise that the first broadcast of this episode is on Children in Need night so there may be quite a lot of Woganphobes in our audience, desperately trying to escape newspeople using charity as an excuse to do other peoples' jobs, badly.

Simon and KyliePanic not - he only appears for a second near the end but it is quite an important second because at the songfest in question, the winner was Israeli man-become-woman Dana International and on that night in 1998 there was a big gap between the announcement of her winning and her appearance to reprise the winning song- (Viva La Diva, if you care). Jonathan (I broke my internet) Harvey has imagined what was going on backstage. Obviously it was to do with Simon and Kylie who had locked themselves in the disabled toilet backstage just as Ms International wanted to change frock. Obviously.

By the magic of brilliant Location Manager and a persistent Producer we recreated the Birmingham concert in an empty Wembley Arena with the real Dana International flown in from Israel for the shoot and not looking a day older. Empty Wembley was just plain spooky because the normal TV circus you need to shoot the show looked tiny in vastness of the Arena - the Arena that we kept being reminded has a swimming pool underneath, which made it feel spooky and slightly dangerous. Needless to say the ghosts of Cher and Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi and their audiences were kind and we got out unscathed and dry.

One of the other joys of this episode for me are the gay neighbours - or "gaybours" as Debbie would have them - played by Tom Paine and Rory Kinear. We were fantastically lucky to get them. Rory especially is one of the busiest and best actors on the planet who is going to play Hamlet next year at the National Theatre. If his portrayal of 'Ross Kemp' for us is anything to go by, the Dane will be magnificent. He and Tom just make brilliant choices about what they do with characters and with lines. Watch Rory trying to pick up Andy and see what he does with 'Sleepy Bunny'!

Thank you for reading, watching and being fabulous!

More Beautiful People

Jon Plowman is Executive Producer of Beautiful People, which continues tonight at 9.30pm on BBC Two.


  • Comment number 1.

    I loved the first series with its fine ensemble cast and laugh out loud moments. So far having watched the first two episodes of Series 2 I have been disappointed on a number of levels.

    I personally miss the open and close bookends from the store window in New York - but that is a minor gripe.

    Unfortunately the direction and camera angles in series 2 occasionally appear quite amateurish as for instance when the family came out of the house as they left for the wedding and as Simon spoke you could only see his head above the hedge and in long shot.

    Also scenes around the table in this series, so far, concentrate on close-ups far more than in the first series and this distracts from the enjoyment, I feel.

    However the most disappointing thing for me was Olivia Colman as Debbie who was strident but beleivable as Debbie last time but in the new series seems to becoming a complete charicature of herself. Her best scenes I feel are when, for example, she is relaxed and talking to Simon in the garden about the reason she had never got married - that script and the way the mother and son were shown interacting together, along with the funny twist as Debbie got up and exposed a cheek and Simon's reaction - well I will tell Jonathan Harvey, the writer, that was far funnier than a scene where Andy is having a smoke with the new (gay) neighbour who makes an advance on him and a certain word was used. This was so not Beautiful People and I was quite shocked.

    I wondered if Mr Harvey is deliberately courting controversy and has abandoned any notion of getting a third series commissioned. This I fear could be the outcome in the more "correct" atmosphere that is now prevailing, and not a bad thing either. Beautiful People was cheekily funny and should not be allowed to become smuttily obsolete.

    Verdict: loved it, will continue watching but clean up those scripts pleeaseee!


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