Stephen Poliakoff has a distinguished track record of creating TV drama with poise, brains and taste. What his work has sometimes lacked is sweat, sinew and sex. Not this time, on the evidence of the opening, feature-length episode of this new drama.
The Louis Lester Band can really swing. Led by Chiwetel Ejiofor’s charming, urbane Louis, they swing their way out of the clubs, swing through the lobbies of plush hotels and even swing into the breathlessly admiring company of royalty. Propelled by a combination of their own effervescent talent and the support of music journalist Stanley (Matthew Goode), they sweep all before them.
This is a story about jeopardy and power. The band can survive as long as various benefactors remain onside. But if you’re black in 1930s Britain, it’s a long way down. The racial politics here are fascinating and sobering. But crucially, ‘Dancing on the Edge’ is a feast for the eyes and the ears as well as the brain. The music and staging are wonderful: this has all the makings of a perfect synthesis of glamour and grit and continues tomorrow night.
Hipsters: prepare to be outraged. There’s a new kid in town, with dishes as retro as a Rubik’s Cube, but without the side of irony. That’s because it’s the latest gaff from Corbin & King, the chaps behind The Wolseley, The Delaunay, and Brasserie Zédel. Like those, it’s named in connection with classic cars (backstory: The Wolseley site was originally built as the showroom of the Wolseley Car Company). Bellanger is a nod to the Société des Automobiles Bellanger Frères, a French car manufacturer from 1912 to ’25 (fun fact: Monsieur Bellanger sold Delaunay cars). And once again, it pays homage to the golden era of all-day ‘grand cafés’. Formerly home to a popular-but-uninspiring branch of Brown’s, the site’s potential has at last been realised. The layout’s much the same (airy front section, intimate rear space, bustling middle to connect the two), but the refit by David Collins’s protégé Shayne Brady is all new. If you can call interiors straight from the Alsatian brasseries of turn-of-the-century Paris ‘new’, that is. (Bit of history: these were set up by refugees fleeing the Alsace after the region was annexed by Germany). It’s gorgeously art nouveau, all polished wood panelling, smoky mirrors and flattering golden lighting. An abundance of booths encourages group dining and café chatter. You can’t buy this kind of buzz. The food – a Venn diagram of French, German and Alsatian – is simple, yet flawless. If Angela Merkel and François Hollande embarked upon an illicit affair
Venue says: “A relaxed, all-day, traditional French restaurant on Islington Green. Join us for a simple cup of coffee with cake or enjoy a 'grand repas'.”