Hattie - In The Press

The 36th best TV show of 2011 according to the Radio Times.

A superb example of BBC4's curious but rewarding obsession with mid-ranking, mid-20th Century entertainers, and the misery success brought them. Hattie Jacques, trapped by sexist typecasting and her supportive but inert husband John Le Mesurier, welcomes a sexy young lodger (Aidan Turner) into the family home and proceeds to have an affair with him. As Jacques, Ruth Jones captured the desperation of someone who knows, deep down, that she's destroying herself, but can't quite stop. Robert Bathurst was just as fine as Le Mesurier, who could see what Jacques was doing but couldn't quite rouse himself to prevent her. A sensational-on-paper story became sober, classy and sad.

Jack Seale, Radio Times, 13th December 2011

If you missed this superior biographical drama when it was shown earlier this year, here's a good chance to catch up. Ruth Jones is mesmerising as Hattie Jacques, a beloved comic actor who became part of a domestic ménage with adored husband John Le Mesurier and sexy younger man John Schofield. The story is irresistible: Schofield (Being Human's Aidan Turner) meets Hattie after a charity event and the two are quickly in the grip of an electrifying sexual passion. Bizarrely, even incredibly, Schofield moves into the Le Mesurier home and the marital bed, with John banished to the attic. Yet Stephen Russell's script judges no one as it reveals a marriage that, in its own strange way, was rock-solid, with Hattie and John sharing a lifelong devotion, even after their divorce. Ever the gentleman, John takes the blame for the break-up. Hattie is a touching drama that, for once, doesn't perform a hatchet job on an adored British comedy figure.

Alison Graham, Radio Times, 7th May 2011

The Beeb's drama department has carved out a neat niche with its biopics of beloved British comedy stars: from Kenneth Williams and Tony Hancock to Frankie Howerd and Morecambe and Wise. This latest film, first shown on BBC Four in January, is a worthy addition. Gavin & Stacey's Ruth Jones stars in an acclaimed dramatisation of Carry On star Hattie Jacques's life. Though she played an austere matron on screen, Jacques's private life was actually rather racy. The story focuses on the early 1960s love triangle between Jacques, her chauffeur (Aidan Turner) and her husband, Dad's Army star John Le Mesurier (a heartbreaking turn from Cold Feet's Robert Bathurst) - whom she continued to love, even when she moved her toyboy into their bed. It's a bittersweet story, superbly acted, and followed by a repeat of Jacques's 1963 appearance on This Is Your Life.

Michael Hogan, The Daily Telegraph, 7th May 2011

Another new addition to our script archive - this time it's the script for Hattie, BBC Four's recent drama about larger-than-life Carry On actress, Hattie Jacques.

BBC Writersroom, 14th March 2011

It was the central performances that were special. Ruth Jones is more beautiful than Hattie Jacques was, but otherwise she was just right.

Written by Rachel Cooke. The New Statesman, 27th January 2011

In Hattie, Hattie Jacques (Ruth Jones) looked like she might be about to tell This Is Your Life host Eamonn Andrews to get stuffed, before composing herself and affecting modesty: "Oh Eamonn, they don't come much duller than me." Ha ha. What Andrews didn't know was that Jacques had just changed the man in the marital bed, despatching husband John Le Mesurier upstairs and summoning down their lodger.

No one knew this, This Is Your Life passed off without scandal, and in the divorce court, to protect Jacques, Le Mesurier pretended to have been the adulterer. "Thank you for ending our lovely marriage so beautifully," she said.

What a story! How civilised and quietly heroic and terribly British. Well, Le Mesurier was, anyway. The drama gave us nothing of Le Mesurier the actor and not very much of Jacques the actress.

Eric Sykes, in the run-up to BBC4's latest squint under the greasepaint of the great showbiz era, had complained about this.

But Hattie wasn't a sensationalist piece, just sad and moving and told in the usual Beeb 4 way with one classic car (the E-Type Jag driven by the fancy man, not his own), period lampshades, a fug of cigarette smoke, skinny ties, a dollop of casual sexism, a couple of old choons and, of course, a good script and some cracking acting.

Jones did that remarkable thing of making you forget all about her best-known role (Gavin and Somebody) but Robert Bathurst as Le Mesurier was even better, perfectly capturing his vagueness.

Swift production of the martini decanter solved most of his crises, although for having to tell his sons he was finally leaving he tried this sweetener: "I've got you both... pen knives."

I cheered when he remarried Jacques' friend Joan, completely forgetting that the latter's subsequent affair with Tony Hancock had been the subject of a previous Beeb 4 biopic. Pass the martini, old bean.

Aidan Smith, The Scotsman, 25th January 2011

Ruth Jones' version of Jacques still comes out of this being as difficult to dislike as the real Hattie was.

Written by Chris Hallam. Movie Muser, 24th January 2011

A terrific biopic of the 'Carry On' actress blows the cobwebs off the Sixties.

Written by John Walsh. The Independent on Sunday, 23rd January 2011

Has there ever been a more passive and diffident Englishman than John Le Mesurier? Last time he was dramatised was in a film about his best friend Tony Hancock, in which he stood politely by as Hancock ran off with Le Mesurier's third wife. Now he turns up in Hattie (BBC4) as Hattie Jacques's cuckolded husband (she was his second wife). Jacques - played in an exceptional performance by Ruth Jones - took in her used-car salesman lover as a lodger, and maintained a secret affair by the cunning means of slipping upstairs during the middle of the night. The scene in which she was finally discovered by Le Mesurier (a perfectly cast Robert Bathurst) in bed with her lover was a vision of tragicomic poignancy. He apologised for intruding and explained with consummate resignation that he was looking for his book - a James Bond novel. Seldom has the distance between reality and fantasy been so economically or movingly captured.

Andrew Anthony, The Observer, 23rd January 2011

Well, who'd have thought it of Hattie Jacques. According to BBC4's latest showbiz biopic Hattie, the celebrated comedienne, played by Ruth Jones, conducted quite a carry on of her own back in the sixties. Married to the actor John Le Mesurier, Jacques took a lover ten years her junior and proceeded to move him into the family home as their lodger. Upon discovering the infidelity, Le Mesurier declined the invitation to move out, choosing instead to swap his bed for that of the boyfriend and become cuckold/lodger in his own house. A bizarre compromise that satisfied no-one.

As always with BBC4 biopics, the period was beautifully recreated and the performances top notch, but I never came close to comprehending the characters' behaviour. Nor did I like any of them, although Jones' worked hard to show Jacques charming side. Perhaps Hattie can best be understood and appreciated as a triangular love story fuelled by selfishness, shallowness and cowardice. Not a bundle of laughs, it must be said, but gripping in its own warped way.

Harry Venning, The Stage, 21st January 2011

A BBC Four drama on the life of Carry On actress Hattie Jacques was seen by more than 1.6 million on Wednesday evening, the latest audience data has revealed.

Written by Andrew Laughlin. Digital Spy, 21st January 2011

It takes a special kind of love to move into the lodger's room in the attic while your wife makes hay with her fancy man in the master bedroom. But that was the peculiar domestic set-up at the conflicted heart of Hattie, the true - yes, true - story of Carry On comedy legend Hattie Jacques.

Ruth Jones certainly looked the part of Jacques, all twinkly eyes and comfortable cleavage, her sunny smile masking the frustration of a career cul-de-sac. 'I know my casting; I'm the frigid fat girl,' she complained, acknowledging her role as the nation's favourite chubby, a 1960s Dawn French, if you like.

But though she gave a good impression of warmth, Jones's Hattie strayed a touch too close to heartless bitch for this remarkable story to fully convince. The heart of the tale belonged to wronged husband John Le Mesurier, played by Robert Bathurst with just the right measure of unqualified love and ruffled dignity. 'He's too vague to be unhappy,' claimed Hattie, granting herself licence to cheat, but Bathurst's nuanced performance turned Le Mesurier's vagueness into a self-protective shield.

As a period piece Hattie worked superbly, its glimpses of Carry On film sets, with Marcia Warren scene-stealing as an embittered bit-parter ('I'm sick of this batty old lady s***') a diverting treat. But we didn't get enough of the self-esteem issues that bedevilled Jacques and led her to jeopardise a happy marriage by falling for a devilishly handsome wheeler dealer who made her squeal between the sheets. She fell rather too easily.

Desperate Romantic Aiden Turner certainly looked the part, all moody scowl and hairy chest, but his gor-blimey accent was comedy working class. 'I'm not a bit of rough!' he exploded but that's exactly how he came across, fine for a lusty leg-over but hardly a prospective long-term partner. Which was why Hattie kept her husband in the house to talk to, during the intervals between the sex olympics.

As I said, peculiar. It fell apart when Le Mesurier met a new love, though everyone remained remarkably civilised, and Hattie's bit of rough ultimately left her. It was all quietly sad and a noble attempt to tell a tricky tale. But I never quite fell for it.

Keith Watson, Metro, 20th January 2011

I always think a TV biopic has done its job when you come away wanting to know more about the people involved.

Written by Jane Murphy. Orange Blogs, 20th January 2011

Ruth Jones played Jacques, a piece of casting that on paper may have seemed to make sense physically, but didn't entirely in practice.

Written by Tom Sutcliffe. The Independent, 20th January 2011

This wasn't just a glimpse behind closed doors, it was a thorough rifle through underwear drawers and dirty laundry. And for Jacques, events were always arcing towards that hotel room at the start. It was beautifully shot and acted. I put on one of the Saw movies afterwards for some light relief.

Written by Chris Harvey. The Daily Telegraph, 20th January 2011

Hattie is a neatly scripted drama, drawing the viewer closer to the persona that was Hattie Jacques while also reflecting the love and affection she had for her family and life.

Written by Andy Howells. Suite 101, 19th January 2011

Everything about Hattie is good - the performances, the writing, the direction, the lot. It's warm and sad, moving and very, very human, a proper television treat.

Written by Sam Wollaston. The Guardian, 19th January 2011

Ruth Jones is mesmerising as Hattie Jacques, the beloved comic actor and Carry On star, who became part of a domestic ménage with her adored husband John Le Mesurier and a sexy younger man, John Schofield. The story is irresistible: Schofield (played by Being Human's Aidan Turner) is a second-hand car dealer who meets Hattie after a charity event while she's filming Carry On Cabbie and the two are quickly in the grip of an electrifying sexual passion. Bizarrely, even incredibly, Schofield moves into the Le Mesurier family home and the marital bed, with John Le Mesurier banished to the lodger's room in the attic. Yet Stephen Russell's script judges no one as it reveals a marriage that, in its own strange way, was rock-solid: Hattie and Le Mesurier shared a lifelong devotion after their divorce. Ever the gentleman, Le Mesurier (Robert Bathurst) takes the blame for the break-up. Hattie is a touching drama that, for once, doesn't perform a hatchet job on an adored British comedy figure.

Alison Graham, Radio Times, 19th January 2011

Ooh, matron! The real-life bed-hopping antics of Hattie Jacques were a far cry from the sex-starved battle-axe she played in the Carry On films.

Gavin and Stacey's Ruth Jones pours herself into a series of shiny sixties frocks and some sexy corsets for this handsome one-off biopic. Meanwhile Aidan Turner - of Being Human and Desperate Romantics fame - is transformed after a run-in with the hair-straighteners into her toyboy, bit of rough John Schofield.

When Hattie divorced Dad's Army star
John Le Mesurier (played by a very well-cast Robert Bathurst) in 1965, it was reported that he had cheated on her.

In fact, the mild-mannered Le Mesurier was the innocent party while Hattie had been living the best of both worlds - moving her husband upstairs to the attic, and her lover - a cockney car-salesman - into her marital bed.

It doesn't exactly show Hattie in a favourable light. How could she do it to the lovely Le Mesurier? As she explains to a girlfriend while Schofield hunks about the garden, bare-chested in shorts: "Ooh, look. Him! With me!"

Jane Simon, The Mirror, 19th January 2011

Hattie Jacques's career as a comic actress saw her appear in 14 Carry On films and build a long-term working partnership and friendship with Eric Sykes. But this focuses on her marriage to Dad's Army star John Le Mesurier, which was interrupted when she had an affair with a cabbie and moved him into the marital bed, with Le Mesurier moving into the attic room upstairs. That Jacques and Le Mesurier remained on good terms is testament to Jacques' magnetic, scrumptious warmth, which actress Ruth Jones captures here beautifully.

Sharon Lougher, Metro, 19th January 2011

We all felt it was time to look at a woman in comedy and it would be interesting to portray a comic whose life was more colourful off screen than her roles ever suggested.

Written by Seb Barwell. BBC TV Blog, 19th January 2011

If a biopic of Britain's favourite "silly, frigid, fat girl", Hattie Jacques, sounds a lark, then be warned: this is a bittersweet drama that focuses on the actor's relationship with a younger lover. It's an affair that ultimately destroys her marriage to Dad's Army actor John Le Mesurier - who was also cuckolded in a similar BBC4 biopic, Hancock And Joan - as Jacques, hopelessly in lust, moves her lover into her marital home as a lodger. Ruth Jones, deftly showing Jacques as both selfish and capable of self-deprecating charm, heads an impressive cast.

Jonathan Wright, The Guardian, 19th January 2011

The Carry On star and much-loved comic actress Hattie Jacques might have often been cast as a stern matron, a battle-axe even, but Stephen Russell's bittersweet drama reveals a lustier, naughtier side to her character. There are elements of artistic licence in his storyline and Hattie might have benefited if it had offered a broader spectrum to Jacques's life, but this tightly focused film is driven by an exquisite performance by Ruth Jones.

The story details the clandestine affair Hattie embarked on during her marriage to the actor John Le Mesurier (Robert Bathurst) at a time when she was at the height of her popularity. Jacques might have hated being overweight (she longed to be a ballerina), but her size merely seems to fuel her desire as she is readily seduced by the young John Schofield (Aidan Turner) - a handsome, rough and ready used car dealer. Desperate to avoid any kind of scandal ("You British never forgive people who like a lot of sex," says her lover), Jacques, not wanting to lose either man, tries to keep the affair a secret. When Schofield becomes a lodger in the Le Mesurier household, she's forced to divide her time between her tolerant husband - who is portrayed, perhaps a little unkindly, as being lovably hapless and never far from a drink - two children and demanding lover.

It's a beautifully observed production with a sharp script, but the highlight is an astute characterisation of a fragile, highly sexed Jacques.

Simon Horsford, The Daily Telegraph, 18th January 2011

As we begin our interview her conversation is thoughtful, bordering on hesitant, even shy, but at the same time reassuringly down-to-earth. She admits she's quite content to blend into the background when she isn't in character.

Written by Tim Randall. The Scotsman, 17th January 2011

Robin Le Mesurier was ten when his parents told him and his younger brother, Kim, that their marriage was over.

Written by Amanda Cable. The Daily Mail, 15th January 2011

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