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Dancing on the Edge

Series 1-Episode 1

Series 1-Episode 1



It’s six years since writer/director Stephen Poliakoff’s last major television dramas, the twin pieces Joe’s Palace and Capturing Mary. Dancing on the Edge is a five-parter that’s as opaque, elliptical and as infuriating as you would expect from such a singular, even quixotic, talent.

Frequently throughout this first, 90-minute opening episode you might, as I did, groan with frustration as Poliakoff dangles characters in front of us, people whose motives appear to be unfathomable. What are they doing? Is there a story here? Yet, there’s something in Dancing on the Edge, about a black jazz band in 1930s London, that holds you, whether you want to be held or not. Curse you, Poliakoff!

Chiwetel Ejiofor is quietly commanding as band leader Louis Lester, who succumbs to the enthusiasm of pushy music journalist Stanley Mitchell (Matthew Goode). He’s convinced the band has a big future and carefully pulls it into the orbit of a bunch of rich, influential wastrels and their paterfamilias, the mysterious Donaldson (Anthony Head). Part two is tomorrow.


Drama by Stephen Poliakoff following the fortunes of a black jazz band in early-1930s London. Music journalist Stanley Mitchell decides to take a gamble and signs Louis Lester and his group, booking them to play at the Imperial Hotel in front of a mainly elderly audience who have never seen black musicians before, and many of whom depart in outrage. However, they do intrigue and impress a group of socialites and are invited to play at a private party - where Prince George flirts with singers Jessie and Carla - and catch the attention of wealthy businessman Mr Masterson. Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Matthew Goode and John Goodman.

Cast & Crew

Louis Lester Chiwetel Ejiofor
Stanley Mitchell Matthew Goode
Masterson John Goodman
Jessie Angel Coulby
Julian Luscombe Tom Hughes
Sarah Janet Montgomery
Carla Wunmi Mosaku
Pamela Luscombe Joanna Vanderham
Wesley Ariyon Bakare
Rosie Jenna-Louise Coleman
Mr Wax Allan Corduner
Deirdre Caroline Quentin
Schlesinger Mel Smith
Donaldson Anthony Head
Mick Jamie Crew
Harry Thornton Miles Richardson
Policeman Daniel Coonan
Ryall Richard Cunningham
Prince George John Hopkins
Hannah Katherine Press
Mrs Mitchell Maggie McCarthy
Sarah's father Rob Edwards
Prince of Wales Sam Troughton
Director Stephen Poliakoff
Producer Nicky Kentish Barnes
Producer Faye Ward
Writer Stephen Poliakoff
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