Marvellous BBC 2, 9pm.

Marvellous BBC 2, 9pm.


Marvellous really was marvellous. Writer Peter Bowker mines magic and Toby Jones performance playing Neil Baldwin was not outdone by the appearance of the real-life, but older, Neil Baldwin. If you’ve not seen it, give yourself a treat and watch – and listen.

There’s some natty hymns. Neil’s mum was a committed Christian. It gave her life meaning. Her son Neil took it a stage further. Ask and you’ll be given was a mantra he lived by. He wanted to be a clown and join the circus. So he did. He wanted to go to University. So he did. He wanted to meet Tony Benn and sit with the judges at the Oxford and Cambridge boat race. He wanted to start his own football team and play for the club he loved, Stoke City.  He did. He did. He did. One thing he didn’t believe in was getting down-hearted.

There’s a cameo from Lou Macari, meeting the actor that plays Lou Macari, the Stoke manager that took Neil on as Stoke City kit man. When Macari left Stoke (to manage Celtic) Neil gets to play in a testimonial match and scores a wonderful headed goal. ‘That’s how it happened?’ the actor who played Neil asks the -real- Neil and a ‘No’ is the answer.

‘I’m doing well am’t I?’ is the only time Neil wobbles, after his mum dies.  Neil isn’t doing well. His life has been ended. But he picks himself up again and again. With the help of Gary Lineker he starts a football team. Neil models himself on Cloughie, firm but fair. He’s the manager, but also the central midfielder. Any penalties, Neil takes them. Neil reminded me – reminds me – of Clarence from A Wonderful Life. Yes. a wonderful life