TV Cream

Films: B is for...

Black Joy

It seems South London has forever existed on screen as a “gritty”, downbeat and generally pity-garnering backdrop for tales of poverty, crime and generally wasted life. Not so with this Brixton-based comedy, in which an innocent Nigerian immigrant pitches up in the neighbourhood and, after a distinctly rude awakening to the trials everyday British urban life (not least an encounter with Vivian Stanshall as a creepily predatory priest in a youth hostel), hitches up with a street-smart mentor. Unfortunately, that mentor happens to be all-round dodgy geezer Dave, played by Norman Beaton in full-on JA wide-boy mode, who has trouble enough dealing with his girlfriend (a surprisingly tough turn from Floella Benjamin), with no prospect of any rasclaat rest. Amongst the squalid hostels, bedsits and dole offices (plus a lavish windswept trip to Margate to see The Playboys), however, there’s a refreshingly upbeat plot, and the whole thing’s played out with a natural charm that’s thin on the ground these days. The perfect antidote to both earnest “housing estate hell” melodrama and the blaxploitation bandwagon, with a great reggae/soul saturated soundtrack of its own, available – where else? – on Ronco records and tapes.

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