The BFI Southbank is to host a season celebrating the television work of audience favourite Julie Walters including a screening of the BAFTA-winning Mo (2010).
Throughout her career Walters has worked with writers Alan Bennett, Alan Bleasdale and Willy Russell as well as, most famously, Victoria Wood. The season will include highlights of these collaborations as well as a personal appearance by Walters, when she will discuss her television career to date.
Julie Walters in Conversation
Julie Walters will be on stage to talk about her remarkable career and love affair with British television. The interview will be illustrated with clips from her many diverse and demanding TV roles.
Joint ticket available with screening of Mo £13, concs £9.75 (Members pay £1.50 less)
Wed 9 Feb 20:45 NFT1
Walters & Bennett
The season begins with Walters’ TV work for Alan Bennett, another writer attracted by her ability to get beneath the skin of a character. With Bennett’s work, it’s about what remains unsaid – the quiet desperation of ordinary lives beneath the inane chatter – and Walters instinctively understands this.
Say Something Happened
BBC 1982. Dir Giles Foster. With Thora Hird, Hugh Lloyd. 43min
An inadequate trainee social worker is sent into the home of an isolated couple. There is a dark secret lurking, and all three must face up to their own fears. Raising the art of inaction to new heights, Bennett’s script creates wonderful parts of immense depth for both women.
+ Talking Heads: Her Big Chance
BBC 1988. Dir Giles Foster. 30min
Dreaming of the big break we know will never come. Walters captures the essence of failure in her evocation of the painfully deluded supporting artist.
+ Talking Heads 2: The Outside Dog
BBC 1998. Dir Gavin Millar. 30min
Returning to Bennett’s construct some ten years later’ Walters plays a very different character. Sterilising her life against the blood her husband brings home each night from the abattoir, she will soon be overwhelmed by another form of slaughter
Thu 3 Feb 18:20 NFT2, Fri 25 Feb 18:20 NFT2
Walters & Comedy
Julie Walters & Friends
LWT 1991 Dir Alasdair Macmillan With Victoria Wood, Alan Bennett, Willy Russell, Alan Bleasdale 53 min
Specifically designed to showcase her versatility and comedic range, as four of our finest writers provide her with the material. Walters does not let them down with a dazzling display of raw comedic talent.
+ Victoria Wood: As Seen on TV Special
BBC 1987 Dir Geoff Posner. With Celia Imrie, Duncan Preston, Susie Blake. 40min
The special that took us behind the scenes with the making of Acorn Antiques, allowing Walters to reveal the actress playing Mrs O, as well as other by-now comic legends (‘Can I pass by? I’m diabetic’) and a big musical finale.
+ Twisted Tales: Bathtime
Channel 4 1996. Dir Russell Michaels. With Alan Cumming 17min
Screened as part of the Shooting Gallery strand for emerging writers and directors, this is a strange tale of sex and death. As usual Walters rises to the occasion and runs with it.
Tue 15 Feb 20:40 NFT2
Wide Eyed and Legless
Screen One. BBC 1993. Dir Richard Loncraine. With Jim Broadbent, Thora Hird, Sian Thomas. 90min
Jack Rosenthal’s deeply humane script allows Walters to do what she does best – to move from humour to heartbreak in the blink of an eye. Based on fact, the story charts one couple’s heroic efforts to cope with the crippling effects of what we now know to be ME. Untreated and diagnosed as incurable, she is driven to make the ultimate sacrifice for the one she loves.
+ Omnibus: Our Julie
BBC 1999. Dir Ian Leese. 54 min
This revealing portrait takes us back to Walters’ childhood home in Smethwick, and to the complex relationship with her loving but aspirational mother.
Sat 5 Feb 16:00 NFT2
Channel 4 2010. Dir Philip Martin. With David Haig, Gary Lewis, Toby Jones. 100min
Walters won the BAFTA for best actress for this remarkable portrayal of Mo Mowlam’s fight to bring peace to Northern Ireland alongside a battle with her health and her feelings of betrayal by her own party. A character held in such high esteem by the public could only be played by an actress regarded with equal affection. There is a real connection for Walters with this role and a feeling she understood this woman completely.
Wed 9 Feb 18: 30 NFT1
Screen Two. BBC 1985. Dir Gavin Millar With David Rappaport, Ken Campbell 70min
Walters’ first major screen role after the enormous success of Educating Rita was an unusual choice. Written by Ken Campbell, the premise is that the phone network has conjoined to form its own intelligence. Mavis, a single mother, is witness to and a victim of its malign nature.
+ Canterbury Tales: The Wife of Bath
BBC 2003. Director Andy De Emmony With Paul Nicholls, Bill Nighy. 60min
This contemporary take on the Chaucer classic hands Walters a role it is hard to imagine anyone else bringing off, and rewarded her with another BAFTA. Sally Wainwright’s script deftly handles the dichotomy faced by the older woman in a relationship with a man half her age, and as usual Walters makes us viscerally feel her pain.
Sat 12 Feb 18:20 NFT2
My Beautiful Son
ITV 2001. Dir Paul Seed. With Olympia Dukakis, George Wendt, Amy Robbins 110min
When a successful Jewish psychiatrist discovers he has leukaemia, his mother is forced to tell him that he is adopted. As he pursues his real birth mother (Walters) in Liverpool we are treated to a wonderful clash of cultures between rich Jewish New York and Irish Catholic Toxteth. Walters invests the part of Sheila with a warmth and humanity only she can bring to a role like this, and was rewarded once more with a BAFTA.
Fri 11 Feb 18:40 Studio, Sun 20 Feb 16:20 Studio
Ahead of the Class
ITV 2005. Dir Adrian Shergold. With Anton Lesser, Tony Slattery. 95min
In 1995 head teacher Philip Lawrence was murdered outside the gates of his own school. Based on Lady Marie Stubbs own book, this tells the true story of how she took over the school’s headship under ‘special measures’ in 2000. By sheer power of personality, she turns a failing school into a shining success, despite the opposition she faces from staff and pupils alike. Walters is once more handed the role of a woman of great personal strength and courage that she so excels at portraying.
Fri 18 Feb 18.40 Studio, Sat 26 Feb 16.20 Studio
BFI Southbank Box Office tel: 020 7928 3232. Unless otherwise stated tickets are £9.50, concs £6.75 Members pay £1.50 less on any ticket. Website: www.bfi.org.uk/southbank
Tickets for FREE screenings and events must be booked in advance by calling the Box Office to avoid disappointment