Dancing on the Edge (BBC Series 2013)

Dancing4 Kernels

Set in London during the early 1930’s, comes a rather jazzy series entitled Dancing on the Edge, but it has nothing to do with dancing. Rather it’s an interesting look into the early 1930’s London scene of a jazz band, consisting of black musicians and singers. It’s an enjoyable six-part journey of a rising band on the London scene, who are embraced by the English aristocracy, including royalty. The series was nominated for three awards at the Golden Globes, and actually won a few awards at other venues.  It is now streaming on Netflix.

The story begins when Stanley Mitchell (played by Matthew Goode), a music journalist for a London magazine, stumbles across a band playing in a small dingy nightclub. He is enthralled with their musical ability and pulls enough strings to get them a gig at the Imperial Hotel.  Of course, jazz is new to London, and at first the elderly patrons find it rather scathing, especially from all black musicians.  Nevertheless, they catch the ear of aristocrats and eventually royalty (Prince of Wales and his younger brother, George), who help push the band into fame and recognition through live broadcasts on the BBC and a record deal.

However, things do not stay peachy forever, as their lead female singer is brutally murdered.  Though you secretly suspect the real culprits in her demise, the police end up pointing the finger at the band leader, Louis Lester (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor), as the one who committed the crime. The sad state of affairs brings the band to ruin.  John Goodman plays the rather rich and sleazy Walter Masterson, who you pretty much figure is up to no good.

The six episodes are, of course, filled with singing and jazz, but also quite a few side stories, including a few romances and nudity in bedroom scenes.  Underlying are themes of racial prejudice, interracial love affairs, the rise of the Nazi fascism, and the secrets of the Freemasons.

If you like jazz and the 1930’s London, you’ll be tapping your feet to an enjoyable series.  Here is selection from the soundtrack to get into the foot-tapping, jazzy mood.

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