Ballet Shoes: Victoria Wood

LET’S face it, not many men are going to buy a novel called Ballet Shoes.
And, yes, I’ve taken into account the success of Billy Elliot – both the film and stage musical.
So I sat down to watch Ballet Shoes (BBC1, Boxing Day, 8.30pm) not really knowing what to expect.
Some 90 minutes later I couldn’t wait to rush off and praise it in print.
From the programmes I’ve already seen, there’s a lot to look forward to in among this year’s Christmas telly.
There are also, sadly, a few real TV turkeys.
Ballet Shoes is one of my very favourite things – and a drama I’ll watch again when it is screened.
It’s got one of the best casts assembled in 2007 and a screenplay by Cranford’s Heidi Thomas.

As Bury-raised Victoria Wood, who plays Nana, says: “The book is almost a fairy tale – but the screenplay roots the story in a more realistic world.”
She enjoyed working with Dame Eileen Atkins, who plays Madame Fidolia, but not so much with some of the very youngest stars.
“We had a toddler who held her hand over her face the minute the camera was turning – like a celebrity arriving at court for a divorce hearing.
“That particular child was supposed to throw a dolly out of a pushchair.
“Well, she wouldn’t throw it, wouldn’t hold it. I think we should have got a bigger pushchair and phoned Janette Krankie.
“It was a big thrill to do a scene with Dame Eileen Atkins – we didn’t share any dialogue, but she nodded in my direction and I did a sort of curtsey, so it was as good as.
“I feel Heidi missed a trick in not giving Nana a sing-song round the piano with Madame Fidolia.”
Victoria is also Kirsty Young’s guest on this Sunday’s Desert Island Discs (Radio 4, 11.15am).
The BBC has done a deal with a certain Sunday newspaper, so I can’t tell you in advance what she says.
But according to the Radio Times, Victoria talks “candidly” about “the appalling conditions of her upbringing and the devastation brought by the break-up of her marriage”.
9am Sunday Dec 23 update: That Sunday newspaper story is here.
You can read more about Ballet Shoes by clicking on the link below.
Ballet Shoes TV Feature
More Victoria Wood Blogs