24 May 2011

I'm nuts (in May) about Nuts in May (and other early Mike Leigh films)

Most of you probably know writer, director, actor Mike Leigh from his films Vera Drake and Secrets and Lies or his most recent Another Year (which I have yet to see). But his films that were made for the British televsion series Plays for Today in the 1970s are wonderful in their own dismally funny way. Seemingly made on a shoestring, they often deal with class issues and feature quirky, rather depressing, sometimes hilarious characters.

In Nuts in May, uber anal and officious Keith and his talkative wife Candice Marie go for a 10-day tenting holiday and run into issues with other campers who don't share their ordered view of the world.

In the next clip, I love the way Keith feels the need to explain who is singing each line of their song about going to the zoo.

This next clip isn't very good quality but it hilariously shows just how precise Keith can be.

Alison Steadman (who was married to Leigh at the time) not only played Candice Marie, but she also plays Beverly in Abigail's Party. Does anyone else see shades of a Catherine Tate character in this?

Finally, the following clip is from Hard Labour, the film that first got me interested in these early films. You see a youngish Liz Smith from Vicar of Dibley fame playing an overworked char woman. With a lazy, boorish husband, bitchy daughter, and snotty employer.


  1. Oh I'm a big fan too! I've seen all of his work except for the latest, but agree that the earliest ones have something most special about them.

  2. I like him too ,love abgails party ,all the best stu

  3. I adore Alison Steadman, from these characters to Mrs Bennett in the Colin Firth P&P to Gavs Mum in Gavin and Stacey... she is just wonderful.

  4. Verity: His early stuff is such a revelation for me. Like discovering a favorite author's back catalog.

    Stu: Abigail's Party is John's favorite, but I think I prefer Nuts in May.

    Simon: I have only seen a few online clips of her recent stuff. I can't wait to see more.


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