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Dancing on the Edge
Laurence Cendrowicz

Dancing on the Edge

Mon Feb 4, 9-10.30pm, BBC2

By Phil Harrison
Series one, episode one
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.

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