Bearing in mind that Hughie Green was one of the most insincere and oleaginous personalities in front of the camera, and that by most accounts he was a monstrous bully in his private life, then enjoy isn’t really the right word. But a superb performance by Trevor Eve as the Opportunity Knocks and Double Your Money host and serial philanderer meant this was always worth watching. We wouldn’t be surprised if a BAFTA nomination isn’t forthcoming.
What was good about it?
· A nicely twisted opening, as we cut back and forth from the Opportunity Knocks studio being readied, and a crisp white shirt being done up and cufflinks attached. This moves into a close-up of Hughie’s chin having make-up applied, and just as we are expecting him to come bounding into the studio, the camera pulls back to reveal Hughie in his coffin – we’ve been watching the mortician at work…
· Despite being a deeply unpleasant man, the programme showed how the child became father to the man – Hughie caught his mother during one of her numerous affairs and was worked like a dog by his father as a child star. It was no surprise that the unloved Hughie became such a wretched father and husband with a childhood such as his.
· The programme also showed that Hughie could be caring when he put his mind to it – witness him consoling a young lad who had wet himself in his dressing room before his Opportunity Knocks appearance.
· Mark Benton was also good as Jess Yates – presenter of Stars on Sunday, and ‘father’ of Paula. And in his interactions with Yates, Hughie showed his truly monstrous side: sleeping with his wife (and fathering Paula, unbeknownst to Yates) and destroying his TV career by revealing that the married Yates had been having an affair with an actress.
· Eve had nailed his performance as Green – the mannerisms and accent were superb, such that by the end of the programme, it was hard to picture how the real Hughie had looked.
What was bad about it?
· The ridiculous stick-on sideburns sported by Will Thorp as a 70’s TV exec. The make-up artist had clearly been having an off day.
· Hughie was such a prolific womaniser that it was hard to keep up with all the various women that played such major roles in his life.
· The first 70 minutes of the programme took its time in establishing the characters and the machinations of Hughie. Unfortunately, the last 20 minutes zipped through from the mid 70’s to Hughie’s death in 1997 and major turning points in his life were almost glossed over. The programme makers could have done with another 30 minutes to do it justice.
Aired Wednesday 2 April 2008