Luke Ward-Wilkinson

  • Actor

Press clippings

Based on a memoir by Simon Doonan, the creative director of Barneys department store, the second series of this camp and sweary sitcom comes to an end next week. Tonight Simon (Luke Ward-Wilkinson) recounts the story behind how he won the Turner Prize. The X Factor's Dannii Minogue turns up in a sprightly comic turn and there are some lovely jokes throughout, some of which err on the far side of strict decency. Olivia Colman and Aidan McArdle play Simon's parents.

Toby Clements, The Telegraph, 11th December 2009

The glitzy comedy series based on Simon Doonan's book of the same name is proving a jolly affair. (For those who missed the previous episodes, the sitcom recounts New York-based designer Doonan's teenage memories of growing up in Reading.) Tonight's third episode hinges on the young Simon's (Luke Ward-Wilkinson) desire for a water feature at home.

The Telegraph, 27th November 2009

Eurovision winner Dana International makes a guest appearance tonight, as Simon Doonan (Luke Ward-Wilkinson) and his camp best mate Kylie (Layton Williams) dream of forming a boyband to fill the void left in 90s pop by the demise of Take That. Their body-popping ambitions are given a boost by their cool music teacher Mr Carr (Tom Payne), who also turns out to be their new neighbour. Until, that is, Simon's parents invite him over for dinner.

Family life with the Doonans is served up with the usual trimmings of bad-hair days, body glitter and lashings of chicken and mushroom wine.

Jane Simon, The Mirror, 20th November 2009

If The Office made Slough look dismal then Beautiful People makes suburban Reading look similarly gloomy, especially from the viewpoint of an effeminate 13-year-old schoolboy desperate for the glitz, glamour and excitement of London. Written by Jonathan Harvey (Gimme Gimme Gimme) and based upon the childhood memoirs of Simon Doonan, creative director of Barney's department store in New York, the camp comedy drama is back for a second six-part series. Using flashbacks, narration and fantasy sequences, each episode centres upon how Simon (played by Luke Ward-Wilkinson and, in his older years, Samuel Barnett) came to own some of his most treasured possessions. In this first episode Simon recalls a school genealogy project that led him to find out that his parents never actually married.

The Telegraph, 13th November 2009

Each instalment of this comedy opens like an episode of Sex And The City. But the chirpy voice-over and shots of New York City only book end a flashback to entirely less glamorous Reading in 1997, where the younger Simon (Luke Ward-Wilkinson) inadvertently broadcasts his desire for his very own Posh Spice doll over the school tannoy system. Although this yearning places us squarely in the late Nineties, Beautiful People feels as if it is floating somewhere before that time; perhaps because of references to TV shows such as Knots Landing, which finished in 1993.

Tessa Gibbs, The Telegraph, 23rd October 2008

Review in The Stage

The humour is gentle rather than hysterical, but the jokes are clever, unforced and in plentiful supply. Great performances too, particularly from its young stars Luke Ward-Wilkinson as Simon and Layton Williams as Kyle, aka Kylie.

Harry Venning, The Stage, 6th October 2008

As cheekily camp as Simon Doonan's recollections of his barmy family are, Jonathan Harvey's innocent adaptation looks oddly as though it should be broadcast in the middle of the afternoon.

The 13-year-old Doonan is gleefully played by Luke Ward-Wilkinson, who introduces us to his dipsomaniacal mum Debbie (Peep Show's Olivia Colman) and his camp best friend Kyle (Layton Williams).

But then that, perhaps, is the best achievement of this likeable, if light, comedy drama: it manages to make the adventures of a tender, cross-dressing teenager look like normal children's TV.

Robert Collins, The Telegraph, 3rd October 2008

This new comedy from Jonathan Harvey (Gimme, Gimme, Gimme) is adapted from the novel by Simon Doonan (now creative director of New York's famous store Barneys), based on his childhood.

The enjoyably cheeky series, starring Luke Ward-Wilkinson and Samuel Barnett (who play the young and old Simon), explores Simon's recollections of his teenage life in Reading.

The Daily Express, 2nd October 2008

In case you don't know (and unless you spotted him offering style tips on America's Next Top Model - why should you?) Simon Doonan is the British-born window-dresser and creative director of the glamorous New York department store, Barneys. This new sitcom is inspired by his autobiography about growing up gay and working class in un-glamorous Reading.

Not having read it, I can't tell you how faithfully Jonathan Harvey's screenplay is to the book, but as Doonan is now in his mid-50s, it's a safe bet he wasn't a schoolboy in 1997 as he's depicted here (although his household did include a live-in blind auntie, played by Meera Syal).

Luke Ward-Wilkinson and Samuel Barnett play Simon, then and now, in the first instalment which works its socks off trying to be wacky. Describing his mum's attempts to entertain, Simon now tells us: Never, ever trust the word 'zany'. Advice the director might have done well to heed.

Jane Simon, The Mirror, 2nd October 2008

Beautiful People traces the life and times of an outrageous, unashamed teenage fashionista - played with great charm by Luke Ward-Wilkinson - growing up in Reading in the 1990s. His father is a plumber; his mother is a drinkers and his blind Aunty Hayley is as mad a March hare.

As an adolescent, the young man feeds off Tennessee Williams' films, dresses up in women's clothes and dreams of a glamorous world elsewhere. It is not a work of comic genius and - unlike the first series of Shameless - it doesn't give off the smell of authenticity, despite being based on the memoirs of Simon Doonan, creative director of Barney's department store in New York. But it does have an exuberant cast of characters, crazy fantasy sequences and plenty of good humour.

David Chater, The Times, 2nd October 2008

Share this page