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Beautiful People (UK TV series)

Beautiful People
250px
Beautiful People intertitle for series 2
Genre Comedy drama
Written by
Directed by
Starring
Narrated by Samuel Barnett
Theme music composer
Opening theme "Beautiful People Theme"
Composer(s) Ian Masterson
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 2
No. of episodes 12 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Jon Plowman
Producer(s) Justin Davies
Editor(s) Mark Lawrence
Cinematography Rob Kitzmann (DoP)
Running time 30 minutes
Production company(s) BBC Productions
Release
Original channel
Picture format
Audio format Stereo
Original release 2 October 2008 (2008-10-02) – 18 December 2009 (2009-12-18)
External links
[www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00p015t Website]

Beautiful People was a British comedy drama television series based on the memoirs of Barneys creative director Simon Doonan. The series takes place in Reading, Berkshire, in 1997, where thirteen-year-old Simon Doonan and his best friend Kylie dream of escaping their dreary suburban surroundings and moving to cosmopolitan London "to live amongst the beautiful people". The first episode aired on BBC Two on 2 October 2008 and recorded overnight ratings of 1.5 million viewers and positive critical reaction.[1] Episodes are self-contained, but do follow a loose story arc throughout the course of each series. The second and final series finished airing on 18 December 2009.[2]

Cast and characters

  • Simon Doonan (Luke Ward-Wilkinson), an effeminate 14-year-old schoolboy who longs to escape 1990s Reading for the glamour of London. Played by Samuel Barnett in present-day scenes.
  • Kylie Parkinson (Layton Williams), Simon's best friend, whose real name is Kyle. Similarly fey, and obsessed with Kylie Minogue, but idolises Princess Diana. Played by Howard Charles in a present-day scene, but is voiced by Williams.
  • Debbie Doonan (Olivia Colman), Simon's mother, a brash barmaid who speaks her mind and has a slight drinking problem.
  • Andy Doonan (Aidan McArdle), Simon's father, a hardworking Irish plumber.
  • Ashlene Doonan (Sophie Ash), Simon's sister, known to be promiscuous.
  • Aunty Hayley (Meera Syal), Simon's blind "aunt" and Debbie's best friend, who lodges with the Doonans.
  • Reba Parkinson (Sarah Niles), Kylie's mother, the Doonans' neighbour, and Debbie's rival.

Occasional characters

  • Narg (Brenda Fricker), Simon's nan; first an angelic Catholic woman, soon turns nasty and difficult after electroshock therapy.
  • Mummy, Aunty Hayley's overweight guide dog.
  • Tameka (Tameka Empson), Debbie's Rum-loving hairdresser.
  • Johoyo (Tameka Empson), Tameka's eccentric identical Nigerian cousin who takes over her salon after her death.
  • Sacha (Gary Amers), present-day Simon's New York partner in series 1.
  • Jayeson Jackson (Josh Handley), Simon's classmate, who often bullies and torments Simon for being effeminate.
  • Miss Perrin (Michelle Butterly), the headmistres at Simon's school, whom he counts as one of the few "beautiful people" in Reading.

Series synopses

Series 1
In 2008 New York City, Simon Doonan, a window-dresser at Barneys, tells his boyfriend Sacha various tales from his childhood in Reading. Most of Simon's stories center around how he came to own some of his most treasured possessions, which he finds a place for in his eccentric window displays. Over the course of the series, young Simon struggles to express his love of music, theatre, and fashion in a working class community, with local hooligans hounding him at school and a supportive but quirky family squashing his efforts at home. While it is implied, sexuality is not relevant.

Series 2
The second series of Beautiful People was broadcast in 2009, when Simon returns to Reading to mend his heart after breaking up with his boyfriend Sacha. As in the first series, Simon recounts stories from his childhood in Reading, but speaks directly to the viewer instead of to Sacha. Simon and Kylie's sexuality becomes more overt in the second series as the two lads become more comfortable with themselves. In the series finale, Simon finds himself attracted to a new boy at school, prompting him to come out to his mother after being dissuaded from running away from home.

Simon: I'm not like other boys...
Debbie: Good, other boys are crap.
Simon: No they're not, otherwise why would I like them so much?

Production

The comedy was greenlit in May 2008 by Controller of BBC Two Lucy Lumsden and Controller of Comedy Commissioning Roly Keating. The six episodes were written by Jonathan Harvey (Gimme Gimme Gimme)[3] and directed by Gareth Carrivick. Studio filming was done at Shepperton Studios and exterior locations at Bushey, Hertfordshire,[4] Harrow, London, Grahame Park concourse and New York City. Exterior scenes of the cul de sac where Simon lives are filmed on Crabtree Close in Bushey. Doonan grew up in Reading in the 1960s but Harvey moved the setting forward to the 1990s. Executive producer Jon Plowman hoped audiences would relate to Simon's childhood; "Every teenager thinks they're different [...] I hope the audience will think: 'That's me as a teenager being laughed at. Everyone else was in a gang together, and I was in a gang of one.' But the truth is, everyone is in a gang of one."[5]

Olivia Colman helped the cast to bond on set by arranging a visit from a mobile blood donor unit.[6]

Episodes

Series 1

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Series 2

# Title Original airdate

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Reception

Broadcast and ratings

Series 1 of Beautiful People was broadcast on Thursdays at 21:30 on BBC Two, during the channel's "Thursdays Are Funny" strand, and at 22:00 on BBC HD. Series 2 was broadcast at 22:00 on Fridays on BBC Two.

# Series 1 BBC Two
Viewers (millions) Audience share
1
"How I Got My Vase"
1.52[7]
7%[7]
2
"How I Got My Nose"
1.26[8]
5.7%[8]
3
"How I Got My Beads"
1.08[9]
5.4%[9]
4
"How I Got My Posh"
1.02[10]
4.5%[10]
5
"How I Got My Tongs"
1.38[11]
6.1%[11]
6
"How I Got My Globe"
1.33[12]
5.9%[12]
Series 2
1
"How I Got My Groom"
2
"How I Got My Plumes"
0.568[13]
2.2%[13]
3
"How I Got My Water Feature"
0.710[14]
3.4%[14]
4
"How I Got My Camp"
5
"How I Got My Turner"
6
"How I Got My Gash"

Critical reaction

The series was previewed by The Guardian‍ '​s Grace Dent as "a sort of camp, working-class British Arrested Development". Dent wrote that it "made [her] laugh more than anything [she had] seen so far on TV this year".[15] Tim Teeman, the entertainment editor for The Times, rated "How I Got My Vase" three out of five stars. Teeman complimented Ward-Wilkinson's and Williams's acting but did not believe the 1990s were long ago enough to feel nostalgia for.[16] Hermione Eyre for The Independent praised Williams and Colman, and compared the show to The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole.[17]

Series Two

The second series began on 13 November 2009 on BBC Two. The flashbacks in the second series are set in 1998. In the present-day scenes, Sacha and Simon have split up and Simon has returned to Reading. An ongoing storyline in 1998 concerns the unplanned pregnancy of Simon's sister Ashlene.

Awards

In 2010, Beautiful People was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for "Outstanding Comedy Series" during the 21st GLAAD Media Awards.[18]

Merchandise

References

  1. ^ "Press Office – Beautiful People Press Pack". BBC. 2 October 2008. Retrieved 26 July 2010. 
  2. ^ Williams, Layton (18 May 2010). "Twitter: when Is Beautiful People coming back by Nichlew: im afraid not". Twitter (London: LaytonWilliams). Retrieved 25 May 2010. 
  3. ^ Rushton, Katherine (6 May 2008). "New BBC sitcom for Meera Syal". Broadcast Now (EMAP). Retrieved 8 October 2008. 
  4. ^ Mbubaegbu, Chine (2 October 2008). "Beautiful life in Reading...". Reading Evening Post (S&B Media). Archived from the original on 4 October 2008. Retrieved 8 October 2008. 
  5. ^ Rampton, James (22 September 2008). "Escape from suburbia: Simon Doonan's best-selling memoirs have been turned into a BBC2 sitcom". The Independent (Independent News and Media). Retrieved 8 October 2008. 
  6. ^ Dessau, Bruce (27 September 2008). "Olivia Colman: From Peep Show to Beautiful People". The Times (London: Times Newspapers). Retrieved 8 October 2008. 
  7. ^ a b Wilkes, Neil (5 October 2008). "Hislop trains show breaks BBC Four record". Digital Spy. Retrieved 21 September 2009. 
  8. ^ a b Wilkes, Neil (11 October 2008). "'Natural Born Sellers' tanks for ITV". Digital Spy. Retrieved 21 September 2009. 
  9. ^ a b Wilkes, Neil (19 October 2008). "3.1m visit Channel 4's 'River Cottage'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 21 September 2009. 
  10. ^ a b Wilkes, Neil (26 October 2008). "Piper's 'Call Girl' ends run with 534,000". Digital Spy. Retrieved 21 September 2009. 
  11. ^ a b Wilkes, Neil (31 October 2008). "Brand's 'Ponderland' draws 1m". Digital Spy. Retrieved 21 September 2009. 
  12. ^ a b Wilkes, Neil. "'Silent Witness' ends run with 6.1m". Digital Spy. Retrieved 21 September 2009. 
  13. ^ a b Green, Kris (22 November 2009). "Sarah Jane Adventures' ends run with 790k". Digital Spy. Retrieved 28 March 2010. 
  14. ^ a b Wilkes, Neil (30 November 2009). "7.8m see Sam Fox evicted from 'Celeb'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 28 March 2010. 
  15. ^ Dent, Grace (27 September 2008). "Grace Dent's screen burn". The Guardian (Guardian News and Media). Archived from the original on 29 September 2008. Retrieved 8 October 2008. 
  16. ^ Teeman, Tim (3 October 2008). "Beautiful People; Ian Hislop Goes Off the Rails; Natural Born Sellers". The Times (London: Times Newspapers). Retrieved 8 October 2008. 
  17. ^ Eyre, Hermione (8 October 2008). "Jamie's Ministry of Food, Channel 4; Beautiful People, BBC2; Ian Hislop Goes Off The Rails, BBC4". The Independent (Independent News and Media). Retrieved 8 October 2008. 
  18. ^ "21st Annual GLAAD Media Awards – English Language Nominees". Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. 2010. Archived from the original on 30 January 2010. Retrieved 21 February 2010. 
  19. ^ ISBN 0-00-723713-8
  20. ^ Levine, Nick (7 October 2008). "That Kylie/Dannii duet". Digital Spy (Digital Spy Ltd.). Archived from the original on 7 October 2008. Retrieved 7 October 2008. 

External links