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Dancing on the Edge

Mon Feb 25, 9-10.30pm, BBC2

By Phil Harrison |
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Dancing on the Edge
Episode five
In the end, this Jazz Age epic couldn’t quite live up to its early promise. For all of his strengths as a writer, Stephen Poliakoff doesn’t really do pacy and, while this has been a stimulating examination of early twentieth-century attitudes to race and class, some of the plotting has felt a touch ponderous. Still, there’s been plenty to like about ‘Dancing on the Edge’ and tonight, it closes, as it began, with a feature-length episode.

The white people are pulling up the drawbridge. No one has any particular reason to suspect Louis of murder, yet it seems convenient. For now, the bandleader has found a refuge with Stanley, but can he even trust his former manager? Certainly, there’s moral cowardice everywhere else. Meanwhile, Julian (the excellent Tom Hughes) becomes ever more jittery and deranged. Not the classic it might have been, but lavishly staged, beautifully performed and a superior slice of late-winter escapism all the same.

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