Hughie Green, Most Sincerely

Directed by Dan Percival

Written by Tony Basgallop, based on the book ‘Hughie and Paula’ written by Christopher Green and Carol Clark

Starring Trevor Eve, Mark Benton, Emma Stansfield, Kim Thomson, Julia Ford, Kate Williams and Danny Webb

I am old enough to remember the real Hughie Green (pictured on the right) from our television screens and even as a child with no real frame of reference I thought he was odious.

This one-off 90-minute drama is based on the life of Hughie Green, the host of two hugely popular British television shows in the 1960s and 1970s – ‘Double Your Money’ and ‘Opportunity Knocks’. It is part of a series of dramas that began with the award winning ‘Kenneth Williams: Fantabulosa!’ in 2006 and has also included dramatisations of the lives of Harry H Corbett and Wilfrid Brambell (‘The Curse of Steptoe’), Tony Hancock (‘Hancock and Joan’) and the great Frankie Howerd (‘Frankie Howerd: Rather You Than Me’).

Hughie Green was not, as is often supposed, born in Canada. He was born in London and was a regular performer on BBC radio in his teens. However, after extensively touring Canada with his show ‘Hughie Green and his Gang’ he became a Canadian citizen. In the mid 1930s he also worked in Hollywood. It was with his return to show business after serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force in World War II that he became a household name. ‘Double Your Money’ was broadcast between 1955 and 1968. ‘Opportunity Knocks’ was first broadcast on radio in 1949, but is most celebrated for the television version that ran between 1961 and 1978.

‘Hughie Green, Most Sincerely’ covers this period of Green’s life through to his death from lung cancer in 1997. In particular, it concentrates on his fractious relationship with Jess Yates and the shock revelation, two days after his death, that he was the biological father of Paula Yates, the daughter of Jess Yates.

The cast is excellent. Trevor Eve plays Hughie Green and although he doesn’t quite look the part, he just about nails the odd mid-Atlantic accent, even if occasionally he seems to slip into an impersonation of James Stewart. The always-reliable Mark Benton plays Jess Yates.

Hughie Green was by all accounts an extremely unpleasant person, a whiskey swilling compulsive womaniser who displayed no affection for his two children. Later in his life he was addicted to amphetamines. However, it is implied here that he also had an instinctive understanding of his audience and a genuine degree of respect for the contestants who appeared on his shows. One scene also implies that he challenged the institutionalised racism that existed in British television in the 1970s. Jess Yates, on the other hand, is portrayed as an detestable individual of little or no redeeming qualities.

Yates was known as ‘The Bishop’. He created the popular religious show ‘Stars on Sunday’, which ran from 1969 to 1979. He also presented the show until 1974, when a sexual scandal ended his career. It is now accepted that it was Green who leaked the story to News Of The World journalist Noel Botham (played here by Danny Webb) as retribution after Yates had become a producer on ‘Opportunity Knocks’, brought in to bump up the ratings. It was also Botham who revealed that Hughie Green was the biological father of Paula Yates. This revelation came as a shock to all concerned, but was subsequently proved to be true by a DNA test. All of this occurred less than one month after the death of Michael Hutchence, who was the partner of Paula Yates and the father of her fourth child.

To some degree, ‘Hughie Green, Most Sincerely’ chooses the wrong path by deciding to concentrate on Green’s supposed distant devotion to his secret daughter. He did not, as far as is known, meet her during his lifetime and the knowledge that he was her father was a closely guarded secret until after his death. There was plenty of other material to draw from his decidedly sleazy life without resorting to this tissue-thin speculation – for example, the infamous “Stand Up And Be Counted” song and speech at the end of an episode of ‘Opportunity Knocks’ in December 1976 that somehow lit the spark that resulted in the election of Margaret Thatcher as the British Prime Minister some two and a half years later.

It is also true that the material is stretched very thin over ninety minutes. However, Trevor Eve’s central performance is superb and that alone makes it all worthwhile - and I mean that most sinecerely!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I met him at an airport one time.
Nasty stuck up twat.