Last night saw the first episode of the new BBC drama by Steven Poliakoff ‘Dancing on the edge.’ The series follows the story of a black, jazz band in 1930’s Britain.
I admit I watched in mostly out of curiosity to see and hear Angel Coulby (formerly Gwen in Merlin) sing. I thought the music was fabulous and very worthy of a good toe tapping. Angel, who becomes the band’s lead singer was excellent, she has an amazing voice. Most of her scenes so far have been her singing scenes, this episode seems to have focussed mostly on the men of the established band. There are a couple of scenes that make her character very engaging. There’s a little scene where she prays before she goes on stage which made me smile, a lovely, sweet little character moment. and the scene when the two girls walked into the lounge strutting their stuff was fabulous!
Another point about the above scene of course is the reaction of the woman at the table they pass, wanting her coffee taken away because they’ve been near it, really makes a knot in your stomach. It hits home in moments like that just how disgusting human nature can be. The idea that behaviour like that actually went on in our society and was considered the norm makes me feel quite ill. The same goes for the earlier scene on the train when Louis Lester talks of his going through a similar experience.
The racism isn’t perhaps gone into as deeply as you might expect as there are many tolerant white characters but it is by no means ignored. This was only episode one however and it may be that they wanted to give the group a position in society order to watch it crumble beneath them in the later episodes. There does seem to be a lot of talk online from people who hated it in part for this unlikely degree of tolerance. We can only hope that they will build on the points that the critics have picked up on and gain momentum as the series goes on.
Personally I didn’t hate it. Was it flawed? Yes I think it probably was in places, there were moments that didn’t flow in the midst of all the hidden agendas. Was it a bad programme? No I don’t think so. I saw some complaints online that the jazz wasn’t historically accurate, I can’t comment on that as I’m no jazz expert or historian. I don’t think it would be fair either to judge the entire drama based solely on the first episode. I shall be content to wait and see. I just hope the fact that I didn’t hate it wont bring me too much hate in return!