“ BBC1 / Drama about the relationship between Elliot Graham, a reclusive billionaire, and Joe, the teenage son of a cleaner who takes care of Elliot's grand, empty mansion. „
Monday night I formed the opinion that there was nothing worth watching on the box. This drove me to the collection of TV dramas which I am so fond of. Aired back in 2007 on BBC 1 Joe's Palace was a programme which I had been set on not missing. Largely due to the fact that the press office had announced that Michael Gambon was going to be starring.
Set in an exquisite looking building Joe lands a job as its housekeeper. Being told to keep a record of the people who visit and not to let anyone in unless he knew them. It isn't long before a young cabinet minister takes advantage of his naivety. Managing to use the empty house as a place to conduct his love affairs which strangely doesn't seem to bother the owner. Lonely billionaire Elliot Graham never goes over the top with his inherited money. Far too suspicious about how his Father was able to own so much. When the truth is revealed Joe accompanies him through the reality of what his parents were capable of. Something which although not criminal would never be something to be proud of.
You are aware of how naïve Joe is from the beginning. He takes things at face value and if told not to say anything you can be certain that no words will leave his mouth on the matter. Such is his trusting nature. It appears that this could be the reason why Elliot Graham becomes fond of him. The two take up an unlikely friendship, a teenage boy who's just left school and a slightly agoraphobic billionaire. Is it any wonder the two get strange looks, especially when Joe is treated to eating out in the finest of restaurants and given free reign on ordering the most expensive of items.
Although Mr Graham does most of the talking Joe always pays keen attention, always somehow asking the right questions in just a few words. There is only one character which you can really dislike in this drama although you don't realise it straight away. The cabinet minister is not a person to confide in yet the man is full of charm and it is that which gets him exactly what he wants.
I think the stand out performances have to go to the two main characters. On form as ever Sir Michael Gambon (Elliot Graham) is perfect for playing the eccentric elderly gentleman. Able to show how troubled the character is when he finally learns the truth. Danny Lee Wynter (Joe) has to be given a mention. Since playing the role he has gone onto performing in plays such as King Lear and The Miser.
Written and directed by Stephen Poliakoff this was his 12th TV drama, having produced other programmes like Gideon's Daughter and Perfect Strangers. Both of which did just as well as Joe's Palace in the ratings. The well known British director and script writer is widely praised for his TV dramas but has also directed numerous plays and films.
I think for some people this might disappoint, especially the ending. Although I found it a great way to finish the tale I can imagine some thinking "...is that it?" It isn't full of action, shown in its simplistic form so as nothing can distract you from the main story. Even the elicit affairs can't keep you from thinking why Mr Graham would be OK with it going on in his house.
It's a programme which I can watch again and again without getting tired of it lasting for just over 1 hour 40 so you could class it as a gentle film. It also has a tie on drama which was shown on the concluding night back in 2007 called Capturing Mary. Both of these you can get on DVD on Amazon for £6.99
I am not normally someone who sits down for nearly 2 hours on a Sunday evening to watch a television drama. However, the constant adverts for Joe's Palace on the BBC channels managed to capture my interest enough for me to put it in my Sky planner, so when the reminder came up, I decided I'd watch the first half hour and see how it went. I actually ended up watching the whole thing, which for someone who dislikes these long dramas is no mean feat, and I must credit that to the wonderful programme I sat and watched.
Joe's Palace has been widely advertised across the television I think because it has been written and directed by the renowned television drama writer Stephen Poliakoff. Now I will be honest and say that I have not seen anything else Poliakoff has written, so I didn't know what to expect from one of his shows.
The drama follows the story of the relationship between 2 men, both incredibly different yet who get along incredibly well. Elliot Graham is one Britain's richest billionaire's, and is an insecure person who is researching into his father's past to find out where he made his billions. Elliot inherited an incredibly lavish house near to his own home, but feels unable to live in it as he feels the house has many ghosts and mysteries he doesn't know the answers to.
So, Elliot hires a staff who meticulously clean the house everyday, and a young boy who sits and guards the house, who is instructed not to let anybody in. The young boy is Joe, the son of one of the cleaning ladies. Joe is happy with his job, and feels very special to be allowed to look after the house, and doesn't appear to be phased he is in the old house all by himself during the night. Joe and Elliot meet up regularly to speak about the house, and Elliot begins to open up to him about his concerns about the house and his father's past.
We also meet the character of Richard (played by Penry-Jones), a high flying cabinet minister who despite being married, is having numerous affairs. He is using Elliot's house to rendezvous with his women. Charlotte (Kate Reilly) is the first he brings back to the house, and the pair and Joe appear to get on quite well. As the drama unfolds, the relationship between the unravels as they find the house suffocating and Joe starts to form a relationship with either one.
Throughout the show, I was totally engrossed by the story and the developing relationships between the characters. The ones I found most intriguing were between young Joe and Elliot, and also the unfolding one between Joe and Charlotte. Poliakoff has a real knack of filming these relationships, and despite the stories being somewhat seperate, they all work incredibly well within the realm of the film, and this makes for intriguing television.
Another thing which attracted me to watching this were the cast that starred in it. The biggest 2 names in the show were Sir Michael Gambon, who I knew as Professor Dumblefore in the later Harry Potter movies, and Rupert Penry-Jones, who currently plays the leading man in BBC show Spooks. Other members of the cast are Kelly Reilly, Rebecca Hall (The Prestige) and newcomer and star of the show Danny Lee-Wynter plays Joe. All the cast did a superb job, and I very much enjoyed seeing Penry-Jones in a completely different role to the one he plays in Spooks.He was much smarmier and unlikeable than he is in Spooks, and it was fun to watch his scenes. Danny Lee Wynter was superb in his first major role as Joe, and was fascinating to watch, really bringing Joe's character to life.
I am so glad that I decided to watch this in the end. It was a very clever drama, with an obvious storyline with the relationships going on throughout, yet Poliakoff had a constantly running story underneath this one involving the life of Elliot Graham and his father which came to a head right towards the end of the drama. It is actually released now on DVD, which you can buy on Amazon for £10.98. The drama lasted for 1 hour 45 minutes which was a good enough time for all the stories to be well developed. Enjoyable drama and if you missed it this time around, keep an eye for a repeat as it is worth a look.
Please note the second of Stephen Poliakoff's dramas, called Capturing Mary, which stars Maggie Smith, Ruth Wilson and Danny Lee Wynter, is being screened on BBC2 on November 12th.
Thank you for reading.
A stellar cast led by Sir Michael Gambon, Rupert Penry-Jones, Kelly Reilly, Rebecca Hall and newcomer Danny Lee Wynter star in Stephen Poliakoff's latest BBC One film.