When I saw that my current wife had ordered Ready When You Are, Mr McGill, on the Sky+ box, I wondered why ITV had decided to get out this title from 1976, which is when I first saw it. At the time I was too young and inexperienced in life to fully grasp the wealth of the characterisations contained in this little story.
But no, this was a different version, updated, lengthened and fully developed to an absolute peak of perfection that other screenwriters can learn lots from. Written by Jack Rosenthal, the story is about an ageing film “extra” who gets that which is most-coveted by such supporting artistes the whole world over – a line or two of dialogue. He is surrounded, though, by real-life characters whose actions and stories are masterfully woven into 90 minutes of chaos and mishaps.
Although made in early 2003, it was first screened by Sky Movies in September 2004 – after Rosenthal had died. The reason, reportedly, is that he had re-written the story as a comment on TV executives and ITV weren’t happy about it. Of course, this all adds to the insight into what goes on in the background of making a film and the inherent politics. Highly entertaining. I will watch it again many times.