British Comedy Guide

Hattie. Hattie Jacques (Ruth Jones). Copyright: Angel Eye Media.


BBC Four comedy drama. 1 episode in 2011. Stars Ruth Jones, Robert Bathurst, Aidan Turner, Jeany Spark, Marcia Warren, Stephen Critchlow, Jay Simpson and others.

Press Clippings

Radio Times review

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 Telegraph, 7th May 2011

BBC Writersroom: Hattie script

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

Hattie review

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

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

Hattie DVD review

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

Chris Hallam, Movie Muser, 24th January 2011

Hattie, BBC4, Wednesday

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

John Walsh, The Independent, 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

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