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The One and Only Mike Leigh 

In a revealing documentary Mike Leigh talks to Alan Yentob about a unique body of work and a lifelong struggle to make films on his own terms. On day one of a Mike Leigh film, there is no ... See full summary »


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Episode complete credited cast:
Alan Yentob Alan Yentob ... Himself - Presenter
Mike Leigh ... Himself
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Marion Bailey ... Herself - Actress
Jim Broadbent ... Himself - Actor
Phil Davis ... Himself - Actor
Sally Hawkins ... Herself - Actress
Lesley Manville ... Herself - Actress
Eddie Marsan ... Himself - Actor
Abi Morgan ... Herself - Writer
Dick Pope Dick Pope ... Himself - Cinematographer
Will Self Will Self ... Himself - Writer
Ruth Sheen ... Herself - Actress
Timothy Spall ... Himself - Actor
Alison Steadman ... Herself - Actress (1982)
Denise Webb Denise Webb ... Herself - Homeowner, Life is Sweet


In a revealing documentary Mike Leigh talks to Alan Yentob about a unique body of work and a lifelong struggle to make films on his own terms. On day one of a Mike Leigh film, there is no script, no story and the actors do not know if they will even be in the final film. Written by Ulf Kjell Gür

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25 November 2014 (UK) See more »

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Wide-Ranging Look at the Work of the British Theater, Film and Television Director
25 December 2014 | by l_rawjalaurenceSee all my reviews

Produced to mark the release of Leigh's latest film MR. TURNER (2014), "The One and Only Mike Leigh' features an interview with the director by Alan Yentob. Together they survey Leigh's career from its humble beginnings as an actor to the present day.

Leigh began as a RADA graduate, appearing as a bit-part actor in MAIGRET (1964) before turning to directing. After an apprenticeship in the theater, he made his first film BLEAK MOMENTS (1971) with money provided by the actor Albert Finney. The reviews were mixed; and as a result Leigh found it difficult to obtain funding for future projects. He spent much of the next seventeen years in television, first with the BBC and latterly with Channel Four, producing such classics as NUTS IN MAY (1976), ABIGAIL'S PARTY (1977) and MEANTIME (1984). These teleplay classics helped to reestablish his reputation, and helped him find funds for feature film work. Throughout the Nineties and beyond his reputation soared by dint of classics such as SECRETS AND LIES (1996), TOPSY TURVY (1999) and HAPPY GO LUCKY (2008). His latest release MR. TURNER looks like being his biggest box-office hit of all.

The program did not tell us much more than we already knew about Leigh; it focused especially on his improvisational methods of rehearsal, in which scripts evolve organically out of performer interactions rather than being prepared in advance. Leigh came across as an acute observer of human behavior, who although not a Political Filmmaker per se, was nonetheless interested in politics as they affected ordinary people's psyches. This explains why his films have been so enduringly popular; many of them dramatize the daily struggles experienced by working and upper working-class people to survive in an hostile world.

Unlike many of his contemporaries, Leigh has not been tempted to take his work to Hollywood; he recalled one occasion when a big studio approached him for the foreign rights to remake SECRETS AND LIES for a major actor. He refused the offer, and preferred instead to remain in Britain working for an industry which he believes is in a healthy state, despite the continual need to search for finance for future movies.

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