Monday, July 10, 2006

"Mangan has lovely eyes. Densely lashed, they are the muted moss green of Sligo after rain." *


Jack Rosenthal
Originally uploaded by jamesandthebluecat.
First of the four-part Jack Rosenthal's Last Act was just on Radio Four, and very good it was too. I know SM was a tad intimidated by acting Jack's role whilst flanked by the man's widow (Maureen Lipman) and daughter (Amy Rosenthal), but he needn't have been, he was great. Even though you couldn't see his muted moss green Sligo eyes.

Jack Rosenthal was, and shame on you if you didn't already know this, one of Britain's finest ever television writers - everyone's supposed to like Dennis Potter more, but I only saw the frozen head one, which was rubbish. I did see Eskimo Day a few years ago though, and it blew me away, being character-based, funny and true and sad all at the same time. Most of the Green Wing cast also appeared in the recently-shown (though not recently-made, shame on you ITV obviously, not the BBC, why even a basic amount of research would have sorted that out, JH you monstrous plum) 'Ready When You Are Mister McGill' (Stephen played the writer, so was quite grumpy, rode a scooter and had big black circles under his eyes). I managed to track a few of Rosenthal's other pieces down ("The Knowledge" is particularly good) and they were all of the same quality: always informed by his Manchester working class Jewish upbringing, but never limited by it.

When you start writing, especially for telly, a large proportion of which is frankly, shit, it's easy to set yourself the target of being "better than X". What you need to aim for is being "hopefully almost as good as Y". When I get to write my own stuff, if I'm still doing it in twenty years time and it's ever even mentioned in the same breath as Jack Rosenthal, Tim Firth or Victoria Wood, I'll be happy. Obviously there are other names, but I'm actively hoping to work on shows they're involved with at the moment, so it would only cover them and myself with shame were I to mention them (as well as being quite a good get-out clause).

A big chunk of the Rosenthal back catalogue is now available on DVD (another reason why the internet is teh brilliants).



Dog Update: no knickers passed as yet, although these things can take three or four days, presumably depending on the consistency of pant.


* Hahahahahahaha

26 comments:

Rabidus Badgerus said...

I am now hanging my red face in shame and punishing myself by sticking my fingers in plug sockets, as I *whispers* did not know who Jack Rosenthal was.

Rabidus Badgerus said...

I do now though. Thank you.

woot said...

I'm right there with you bdger. I did get very worried though as I thought it was Jim Rosenthal. The F1 GP's haven't been the same while he was off commentating on the World Cup.

Rabidus Badgerus said...

"Mangan has lovely eyes. Densely lashed, they are the muted moss green of Sligo after rain."

Who said that? Gave me a laugh, that did. And yes, I realise I've posted three times in the last hour, but it took me so long to bandage my fingers up I've not gone into work. So I'll thank you again for that.

Orb said...

Jack Rosenthal = genius
Jim Rosenthal = the Devil (might seem harsh, but look at him again when he's staring straight at the camera... See?)

I saw Eskimo Day when it was first on, and I was a frisky teenager. Maureen Lipman's bit about magpies sticks with me, as do the general fabness of the writing and the general delectability of Laura Whatsit who was in it. Marvellous stuff.

Alan Plater. There's another name for you. Heard him on Radio 4 recently and it reminded me how brill he is and how he, also, widdles all over Dennis Potter.

Button said...

Oh, the "hello Mr Magpie, Hello Mr Magpie" one

*the sweet dawn of realisation lights up eyes the muted green of pond weed on a dull day in November, when its just pissed down, and the dogs eaten all the pants off the line*

skeadugenga said...

Looking forward to listening tonight, infinitely prefer Rosenthal to Potter. Eskimo Days is my favourite, but I also loved P'Tang Yang Kipperbang.

skeadugenga said...

Damn, thats "Day", not "Days" before the pedants come and get me..

Hamilton's Brain said...

Some of the ITV boxed set is reassuringly poor, Mr H.

The original McGill rocked, and had Zaphod Beeblebrox and Howard Hughes in (from Hithchhiker's and Ever Decreasing Circles respectively).

I'm blithering. The Knowledge is probably my favourite. With Bahmitzva Boy a close second.

james henry said...

Does it have the original London's Burning on it though? I haven't ordered the DVD yet, I'm still catching up on all the stuff I ordered recently when I got my first paycheque for six months...

Rose said...

McGill was great, although I'll admit to watching it for Courtenay, not Rosenthal. And my housemate likes to watch Bill Nighy's fingers.

Anyway, the Radio 4 thing was also smashing, although I still can't work out if Mr Mangan was trying to do a soft Lanc accent or not...

Orb said...

Did anyone see Monsieur Mangan in "Seven Wonders of the Industrial World" or whatever it's called? A few months back I accidentally watched an episode about the Panama Canal on the Discovery Channel. I couldn't believe it when Mango came sashaying on, playing the part of a French engineer. He was sporting a magnificent porn moustache and a blatantly ropey French accent that caused me to almost rupture something out of sheer glee. Imagine Guy's Geordie accent ("Does it say 'no smoking'?")only with fewer consonants...

Lee said...

Network make some of the bestest DVDs ever. And if you're unconvinced about Potter, you really should give The Singing Detective a spin.

Jools said...

Tim Firth? As in the Rottentrolls? Oh why don't they repeat that and why won't they bring out more episodes on DVD? *(Have just looked up Tim Firth and see he is responsible for many more responsible and cultured writings - but hey The Rotten Trolls - how cool is that?)

Swiv said...

Dammit, now I'm wishing Eskimo Day was available on DVD. It were wonderful, it were. And Alec Guinness still utterly brilliant in it as well.

Pashmina said...

"The Knowledge" is probably my favourite, though "Bar Mitzvah Boy" also a work of genius and "The Evacuees" pretty bloody excellent too.

And I think you'll find it was ITV that sat on "Ready When You Are, Mr McGill" for about 3 years, ac-tew-erlly James. If you'll forgive the pedantry. Only to stick it on at a funny time on Boxing Day (or Boxing Night, strictly speaking). Still veh good, though I've never seen the original.

james henry said...

Ahem. Duly amended.

Myrtle Luma said...

Love Green Wing, Toy-Fu, and your blue cat blog.

Was referred by a dear friend, to whom you have acredited a Rufus Wainright photo. I saw him as well, it was a great show.

I am in Falmouth and am starting to write about plants, gardens and Cornwall.

leonard said...

What was the sequel to Eskimo Day called? Tell me. Now. It is starting to bug me.

leonard said...

(Sorry that wasn't supposed to sound quite so rude.)

Squarah said...

"Mangan has lovely eyes. Densely lashed, they are the muted moss green of Sligo after rain"

I read that too at the weekend - although it was the obsession with his teeth that bemused me!

Some journalists are just a little bit odd...

Anonymous said...

that interviewer got absolutely torn apart on his fan site.

Matt said...

The sequel to Eskimo Day was Cold Enought for Snow, bits of which were filmed in Exeter about 100yds from where I lived during Uni.

so there.

Bye Bye Baby was another bloody brilliant film by Jack Rosenthal.

patroclus said...

Matt, when were you at Exeter? I was there too, from - *ahem* - 1989 to 1993. Blimey. The Eighties.

RachelFunkeh said...

Just listening to it now, that is the Jack Rosenthal thing, not the sound of pants being passed.

Quite good, do get rather disracted by The Mangans accent though, which as my friend pointed out, keeps changing from lancashire to his normal accent.

I jump on the not knowing Jack Rosenthal bandwagon. But then i don't know my arse from my elbow sometimes and prefer to rest on the fact that i like something because i like it, not becuase of who wrote it.

Rachel x

Matt said...

patroclus: we just passed in the night then; I was there 94 - 97.