EDitorial ± 21-Jan-2019

Mention Ipswich on TV and Film

Consider the name Ipswich. Sounds a bit funny, perhaps, and I've met any number of people who'd be hard pressed to place it on a map. Ideal, then, for insertion into any script for comic effect.

Time to gather together some of these TV and film mentions to see what we can learn.

— I'm Alan Partridge —

Back over 20 years to the first series of I'm Alan Partridge. Four episodes in and N*rwich's very own Alpha Papa is caught stealing a traffic cone. Questioned by the law, he gives a false name and improvises madly when asked for his address:

[Policeman] "Where do you live, Bill? What's your address?"
[Alan] "King Road."
[Policeman] "Is there a number?"
[Alan] "10 King Road in Ipswich."

Not a massive stretch to mentally motor down the A140. Slightly disappointingly, the closest we come to such an address in the 'Swich is King Street in the town centre, home to the wonderful Ipswich Film Theatre and the currently dead Swan. Oh, Alan.

Read the IMDb entry for I'm Alan Partridge.

— 15 Storeys High —

Dug out my DVD box set (and then spent quite a while figuring out how to connect the redundant DVD player to the telly) to retrieve this one. Let me come out and say that 15 Storeys High is quite likely the best sitcom you've never seen. Essentially a two-hander, Sean Lock is Vince and future Hollywood character actor actor Benedict Wong (Moon, The Martian) is Errol, uncomfortably sharing a high-rise flat:

[Vince] "Just think how many millions upon millions of people got 'em right. The only people who won't know them are either dead or in ... Ipswich."

Here, Errol believes he only has to answer a few simple questions to win a BMW. Sample question: what's the capital of Germany? Vince, as always, puts Error right. Great writing from Mr Lock and about time that the BBC bunged it on the iPlayer.

Read the IMDb entry for 15 Storeys High.

— Toast of London —

Darkplace, Boosh, IT Crowd, Vic & Bob. Wherever the cool kids gather, there's Matt Berry. Inexcusable that I've never seen an actual episode of Toast. Thus was completely baffled while trying to find this scene. In a pub we find eponymous character Steven Toast with Blair, his ex-army older brother, and the oddball Dennis Thwaites sporting his Household Cavalry regalia:

[Blair] "How was your journey from Ipswich, Dennis? Come down on Farage, did you?"
[Toast] "On who?"
[Blair] "Farage, Dennis's horse."
[Toast] "What, did he ride a horse all the way from Ipswich?"

Very effective use of character names, there. Should mention Berry's latest album, a set of fourteen reworked television themes including The Good Life, Rainbow and World in Action. Wonderful stuff.

Read the IMDb entry for Toast of London.

— Outnumbered —

Good old Outnumbered, genuinely funny to the end. First shown in 2007, it took until that Christmas special in 2016 for Ipswich to get its long-awaited namecheck. With the children very much grown-up, the Brockmans regroup in a pub after a minor accident with Ben at the wheel. They'd been planning to scatter Grandad's ashes and start to swap stories:

[Ben] "Actually, I'm pretty sure Grandad told me he met Grandma at a dogfight in Singapore."
[Jake] "I think he told me it was a bus stop in Ipswich."

From an exotic sovereign city state to humdrum Ipswich. Twas ever thus for the comedy scriptwriter.

Read the IMDb entry for Outnumbered.

— The Office —

Opening episode of the second series of The Office -- probably no need to clarify we're talking the original UK version -- and David Brent (Gervais) has the pleasure of meeting Neil (Patrick Baladi), his new boss. With Dawn (Lucy Davis) having a grandstand view, things get off to an all too predictable bad start:

[Neil] "Um, we have met before."
[David] "Have we?"
[Neil] "Yeah, Ipswich conference?"
[David] "Oh, God."

Of course, if you were serious about hosting your conference in downtown Ipswich, you'd be spoilt for choice from IP-City to Trinity Park through to Portman Road itself. FYI.

Read the IMDb entry for The Office.

— Informer —

Terrific drama from the veritable BBC first shown in October 2018. There we were on a week away in Lyme Regis watching the tiny telly when lead character Raza -- the excellent Navhaan Rizwan -- idly referenced my hometown when chatting to his mum:

[Sadia] "Remember Anara's boy, he walked all the way to Ipswich, thinking he was Jesus."
[Raza] "Of course, he had to be high to go to Ipswich."

Unlike some other series, Informer kept going to its conclusion with much tension along the way. Hoping that Navhaan lands some other big roles as a result.

Read the IMDb entry for Informer.

— What We Did on Our Holiday —

Essentially the film version of Outnumbered, What We Did on Our Holiday also features a married couple and their three precocious kids. Here, though, Abi (Rosamund Pike) and Doug (David Tennant) are busy breaking up. Stuck in a traffic jam en route to Scotland, mighty Mickey (Bobby Smalldridge) makes observations about the SatNav:

[Mickey] "Can we change it to another voice? Can we have it in Italian like we did last time?"
[Doug] "No, that's how we ended up in Ipswich."

Well worth 95 minutes of your time with lots of laughs. Plus things happen that you will not expect, let's leave it at that.

Read the IMDb entry for What We Did on Our Holiday.

— Dr Who (The End of the World) —

Take the Tardis back to 2005 for the long-awaited return of the timelord with two hearts. In only the second episode of the only series with Christopher Eccleston, the Doctor transports Rose (Billie Piper) to the year 5,000,000,000 in an episode entitled The End of the World. Fighting a rogue computer, Rose is about to be burned alive due to a sun filter not working:

[The Doctor] "The whole thing's jammed. I can't open the door. Stay there, don't move."
[Rose] "Where am I gonna go - Ipswich(?)"

Must tell you the following line spoken by the computer: "Earth death in five minutes."

Read the IMDb entry for Dr Who (The End of the World).

— The BFG —

Spielberg's 2016 big screen version of another Roald Dahl classic. Screenplay was written by Melissa Mathison, ex-wife of Harrison Ford. She wrote E.T. too, natch. This scene has The BFG himself getting a bit mournful about a boy who taught him how to read:

[BFG] "Then he seen me, like you did. So I had to take him, hipswitch."

I presume they're talking about the county town of Suffolk.

Read the IMDb entry for The BFG.

— Stardust —

Top man, Neil Gaiman, and a top story. Matthew Vaughan went from directing gangster filled Layer Cake to a rather sweeter confection in the form of 2007's Stardust. Written for the screen by the powerhouse that is Jane Goldman:

[Victoria] "Do you know he's going all the way to Ipswich just to buy me a ring?"

Almost as if there was money at stake, Ipswich is mentioned four times in this single scene. Notable that director Matthew Vaughan lives with Claudia Schiffer in the fair county of Suffolk.

Read the IMDb entry for Stardust.

— Inside No. 9 (The 12 Days of Christine) —

Blink and you'll miss it mention within the second series of the dark delight that is Inside No. 9. Sheridan Smith is fantastic as Christine whose life seems to be on fast forward for reasons not revealed until the very end:

[Christine] "But they didn't have them in my size?"
[Bobby] "Well, someone rang Ipswich and got them DHL'd."

Don't mind telling you that I had something in my eye as the credits rolled.

Read the IMDb entry for Inside No. 9 (The 12 Days of Christine).

— Monty Python's Flying Circus (Parrot Sketch) —

December 1969, episode eight of the very first series of Monty Python's Flying Circus, and the British public gets its first glimpse of a skit written by Chapman and Cleese. Palin as the shopkeeper and Cleese as Mr. Praline in one of the most famous comedy sketches ever that just happens to slip in a reference to olde Gippeswyk:

[Praline] "This is Bolton, is it?"
[Shopkeeper] "No, no, it's, uh, Ipswich."

Scores based on number of mentions: Ipswich 3-4 Bolton.

Read the IMDb entry for Monty Python's Flying Circus (Parrot Sketch).

— The Little Drummer Girl —

Late 2018 and the BBC push out their latest Le Carre adaptation in the form of The Little Drummer Girl. An early-ish scene sees Charlie (Florence Pugh) whip out her acoustic guitar to sing an old folk tune, "Murder of Maria Marten", based on the events up the road in Polstead:

[Charlie] "I will take you to Ipswich town and there make you my wife."

Bad lad, that William Corder.

Read the IMDb entry for The Little Drummer Girl.

That's more than enough mentions of Ipswich.