ITV aired a controversial dramatised biopic of the famed comedian/magician Tommy Cooper on Monday (21st April 2014) starring Shameless star David Threlfall in the lead role.
The programme has come under fire from Cooper’s daughter Vicky, who claims it is inaccurate and portrays her father as a “wife beating alcoholic”.
As a huge fan of Tommy I found the biopic very sobering. And even if it is embellished with events that are claimed to be untrue, it still made me pause for thought.
Threlfall was perfect in the role and his portrayal of such a beloved figure in crisis is a credit to his superb acting talent.
You learn about Cooper’s apparent legendary tightness with money, his drinking, his smoking and the women behind the man as he carried out a 17 year long affair with his assistant.
The man behind the fez is an amazing story but sometimes you can’t help but hope that Vicky is right and that the programme is exaggerated for dramatic effect, particularly when it comes to some of Cooper’s more unlikable traits.
Peppered with classic Cooper gags (“I went to the doctors the other day and I said, ‘have you got anything for wind?’ So he gave me a kite”) and Threlfall acting out famous performances, there are plenty of laughs through the two hour programme, which should be reason enough to watch it.
But the true testament to the biopic is the sensitive handling of the tragic ending. It is not a gratuitous exploitation of the demise of a legendary figure for viewing figures, but a tribute and heart wrenching recreation of the unfortunate event.
Whether you’re new to Tommy or a veteran fan, you will enjoy this biopic – if not for its apparently fictitious events, then definitely for the outstanding acting.
Amanda Redman and Helen McCrory’s portrayals of Tommy’s wife Gwen ‘Dove’ Cooper and mistress Mary Kay respectively are particularly noteworthy performances.
If you missed Tommy Cooper: Not Like That, Like This, it’s available on ITV player.