‘Dancing on the Edge’: Episode 2 review

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Riding high after scoring their hotel residency, the ‘Louis Lester Band’ is on the up. Despite losing their manager to the immigration service, a situation Lester (Chiwetel Ejiofor) has been unable to remedy, they are beginning to make a name for themselves in society circles.

Thanks to some more of Donaldson’s connections, the band bizarrely played a funeral and through it gained another powerful admirer in the private and reclusive Lady Cremone (Jacqueline Bisset). She is someone who clearly capable of manipulating the ‘powers that be’ to ensure they come to the notice of the public. Of course, Stanley’s irrepressible presence scored him an interview too and this is no bad thing for Music Express magazine, which seems to be as much a focus of the story as the band itself.

For Lester personally, a late night embrace in a cold kitchen and a passionate post-gig tryst with photographer Sarah (Janet Montgomery) capitalised on their previously unspoken attraction. Repercussions of their encounter remain to be seen, but we can’t help but wonder if this will be a racial boundary too far for 1930’s polite society?

The final scenes of the episode were truly shocking if you had managed to remain unspoilt, as sadly the dramatic fate of lead singer Jessie (Angel Coulby) was revealed in the series’ early promotional material. At this stage, we can only assume this is the inciting incident that triggers Louis’ need to flee the country, as seen in the opening scenes.

A clear and all too obvious suspect is presented in Julian, but at the same time heavy hints have been laid to darker issues. There was a baffling and uncomfortable interchange with Mr Masterson in the hotel lobby as well as the cryptic concerns of Julian’s sister Pamela, who clearly knows more than she is letting on. It leads us to reconsider the ‘situation’ Louis assisted in clearing up during the first episode; might Masterson be an innocent and Julian responsible for the girl’s condition? Alternatively, could there be a Masonic connection given the goings on in the basement?

While both uncomfortable evening chat and murderous action took place at the hotel, Carla (Wummi Mosaku) was busy stepping out from the shadows. Proving she is more than capable of fronting the band, she too impresses the Prince of Wales (Sam Troughton) at an RAF function with some stunning vocals.

What is fascinating is the light Poliakoff shines on the upper classes as we see their actions through the experiences of the band, such as the husband who is expected to willingly forfeit his wife’s affections to the Prince for a night as it is the done thing.

Doctor Who fans looking forward to more of Jenna-Lousie Coleman may feel a little short-changed this week as she remained in the background, working at the typewriter. However, her character of Rosie clearly has expectations and we also look forward to her role in the magazine’s greater success.

A particular treat were the moments between Anthony Head and Louis Lester, as the former attempted to pour oil on troubled waters. Despite his apparent no-strings support, we cannot help but think that Donaldson’s help will come with a cost at some point. Alternatively, perhaps it is simply the image of Head as Uther Pendragon looming too large in our consciousness.

Aired at 9pm on Tuesday 5 February 2013 on BBC Two.

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