year-old British artist John Copley became the oldest Olympic medalist at the
1948 London Games, taking silver for his etchings. It would be the penultimate artistic
competition of the modern-era games, all of which have since been segregated
from the official medal counts. He might
have made history (for a while, at least), but fortunately this will not be his
story. Instead, BBC America takes
viewers to the Thames, where a hastily assembled British sculling duo carries
the hopes of their nation in Going for Gold: The ’48 Games (promo
one-shot airing this Wednesday as part of the current season of Dramaville.
Bushnell and Dickie Burnell both competed for a spot on the 1948 Olympic team,
but fell short. Pairing-up was not their
fallback plan, but the brainchild of five-time British medalist and Olympic
committeeman Jack Beresford. The double
sculls is an event close to his heart, since he and his partner upset the
favored Germans in front of Hitler at the 1936 Berlin Games.
stakes are not quite so high for Bushnell and Burnell, but the malaise ridden
United Kingdom could use a lift. London
could also use the tourist dollars generated by a successful Olympiad. However, with mere weeks to go, they still
woefully behind on construction.
Evidently, its déjà vu all over again.
Bushnell and Burnell have just started training together and it shows. Socially and temperamentally quite different,
the pair clash rather badly. In fact, the
respectably middle class Bushnell’s class resentment of Burnell’s privileged
background becomes tiresomely repetitive, perhaps saying more about
screenwriter William Ivory (whose credits include the labor drama Made In Dagenham) than two athletes who
fundamentally share so much in common.
They both have a passion for their sport, similar last names, and
persistent issues with their fathers.
many viewers (as well as BBC America) the most important thing to know about Gold is the presence of Doctor Who’s Matt Smith as
Bushnell. He is credible enough as the
tightly wound rower, but Sam Hoare certainly looks more athletic as Burnell. He also has some of the better turned
straight dramatic scenes. However, for
longtime TV anglophiles, it will be Geoffrey “As Time Goes By” Palmer who
stands out as Burnell’s severely reserved father.
If rowing races is your thing, Going for the Gold (a.k.a. Bert & Dickie) is your tele-drama. Smoothly
helmed by TV veteran David Blair, it still is hardly Chariots of Fire-on-the-Thames (notwithstanding one eyebrow raising
quote), but it is about on par with most subsequent Summer Olympic movies. An appealing period production with a decent
payoff, Going for Gold is a pleasant
enough warm-up for the London Games, recommended for sculling and Olympic
enthusiasts when it airs this
Wednesday night (7/25) on BBC America’s Dramaville
Labels: 1948 Olympics, BBC America, Matt Smith