There’s a joke doing the rounds at the moment that goes: I just saw that Harry Potter film. A bit unrealistic if you ask me. I mean, a ginger kid, with two friends.
But last night I saw Driving Lessons on TV, starring Harry’s ginger mate Rupert Grint, and Julie Walters as ageing diva Dame Evie Walton, and blimey is that one unattractive redhead. Anyway….
Grint plays Ben, a kind, creative, seventeen year old boy who’s being slowly eaten alive by his pathological God Squad mother. He catches a break when he goes to work for Evie – a nutty Julie Walters in her Bo Beaumont persona – a failed and fading actress who spouts Shakespearean soliloquys for breakfast. Together they go camping and traipse to Edinburgh in a battered Citroen Safari and generally learn to break free of their assorted shackles.
It’s comedy and poignancy all crammed into one. Go on, you know you’ve seen this picture a million times before. It’s saved of course because though Bo Beaumont’s been around since Acorn Antiques days, Julie Walters is still bloody funny.
Incidentally, the place they go camping is actually a 540 acre forest called Burnham Beeches which has a heady movie history. It stood in for Sherwood Forest in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, an Irish woodland in The Crying Game, ancient generic England in First Knight and Ivanhoe, and even a more tropical setting in A Town Like Alice.