TV Review: Hugh Grant: A Life On Screen, BBC2

TV Review: Hugh Grant: A Life On Screen, BBC2

At any other time of the year I might have given this relatively benign Hugh Grant profile a particularly wide berth, but in the run-up to Christmas it seemed to hit the spot. Let's put it another way. I'd rather sit through an hour of Grant clips and self-deprecating quips than sit through the whole of Love, Actually.

And this documentary did throw up some interesting curios, such as a snippet from a my-eyes-my-eyes godawful BBC TV sketch show pilot that Grant and his chums landed soon after Oxford. The young but already recognisably floppy fringed Grant did a cringesome impression of David Attenborough in khaki shorts. Once seen never forgotten. At least they didn't make a series.

Much of the cinematic material after this was familiar, but we got some nice back story from the likes of Richard Curtis, who didn't even want to cast Grant in Four Weddings and a Funeral but was outvoted. The film made Grant a star and cemented his floppy-fringed light romantic comedy celluloid persona which has effectively taken two decades for him to shake off.

There were certainly plenty of people to big him up while he made light of his achievements. Among those singing Grant's praises on his behalf, from co-stars Andie MacDowell and Colin Firth to Sandra Bullock, who called him a "national treasure", it might have been nice to have had a few words from Liz Hurley, who presumably knows him pretty well.

This wasn't the most forensic of docs but it did touch on the impact of Hurley's Versace dress and Grant's Divine Brown episode, even if it did skirt over the details. Grant himself modestly joked that the latter didn't help the propects of his imminent film Nine Months: "It did well, but it might have done better had I been better, and had I not been arrested the day before it came out. I screwed it up.” 

And while it didn't totally shy away from Divine Brown it did seem to shy away from Grant's less illustrious period between Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason in 2004 and Paddington 2 in 2017. Grant was the first to admit that sometimes his choices weren't always on the money. Or maybe he was so pigeonholed by that floppy fringed persona that he couldn't catch a break. Until he got too old to play young fops.

And so the documentary ended by looking at Grant's recent achievements, as the unbearably narcissistic ageing luvvie in Paddington 2 and as Jeremy Thorpe in A Very English Scandal, in which he finally traded in that floppy fringe in for an award-winning greasy combover. These roles showed that there is hope for Hugh yet. The light comic actor looks like he could be about to enter a more heavyweight second act.

Watch Hugh Grant: A Life On Screen here.

Picture: BBC/BAFTA/Debra Hurford Brown

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