Review: ‘Dancing On The Edge’ – Stephen Poliakoff’s sumptuous new drama, set in the 1930s

I enjoyed Dancing On The Edge – Stephen Poliakoff’s major new five-part period drama set in the 1930s – which aired on BBC2 this evening. It’s been 6 years since one of his creations last hit our screens (I’ve blogged about most of them before, but they were on my old blog; my favourite is still probably Perfect Strangers).

Set in the 1930s, Dancing on the Edge follows a black jazz band as they emerge into the London limelight from relative obscurity – going on to win the patronage of the Royal Princes. Issues of race and prejudice are obviously at the fore and a number of the officious and ‘civil service-y’ type characters were imbued with that ‘institutionalised racism’ one might expect (and how frightening that such a phrase is still apt, all these years on!).

dancing on the edge bbc2 poliakoff

As I had always expected was going to be the case: the period detail was sublime. The costumes were exquisite and the acting and general storylines weren’t bad, either. You couldn’t help but notice the usual Poliakoff motifs that invariably surface in his writing. I’m thinking of the photo processing scene, for one, and the ‘spooky, mysterious man who obviously has a past’ as another (Mr Masterson, played by Hollywood actor John Goodman).

I liked the character of the journalist, Stanley – as played by Matthew Goode. He reminded me, a little, of Adam Fenwick-Symes (from Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies) but part of that is because he looks like Stephen Campell Moore, who played Adam in Bright Young Things, back in 2003).

Anyway, we’re only one episode in but I enjoyed it – more as it progressed. The first 45 minutes or so – I wasn’t sure – but it grew on me. But hey, my longest running strapline has been ‘we danced all night’ and I have long been on record as stating that I love a lot about the 1930s – that whole period – so I was always going to like this.

A more detailed ‘write up’ can be found on the Guardian’s site.


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