THE FLIPSIDE OF DOMINICK HIDE
Dominick Hide -
Caleb Line -
OTHER TIME TRAVEL SHOWS
In the far future, the human race has managed to find a idyllic life, but it is one that is carried out indoors and without great passion. A great holocaust destroyed almost all the records and so time travellers have been sent back to observe other time periods. They are forbidden from landing and accidental sightings of their ships are punished. Dominick Hide's mission is to observe the public transport system of 1980s London. He knows of a distant ancestor, though, who lived in London and is determined to look him up. Landing, he goes in search of his namesake, but instead finds Jane, a lively and attractive woman who tries to help. As they grow closer, Dominick takes greater and greater risks with history.
THE FLIPSIDE OF DOMINICK HIDE was part of PLAY FOR TODAY, a series of single dramas produced for the BBC. Most dealt with much more conventional material than this entry, which helped it stand out and helped it be remembered.
Of course, being different is not enough and THE FLIPSIDE OF DOMINICK HIDE is remembered for being a sweet and optimistic story about a sweet and naive man coming into contact with sweet and helpful people. It's not at all realistic in its view of things. On his arrival in 1980 Dominick interrupts a young couple only to get helpful directions, a bunch of drunks give him their A-Z of London and the Portobello Road traders stop everything they're doing to help him out. The truth is he'd probably have been given a good kicking and ended up in a lunatic asylum for his rantings.
Fortunately, this is not about being realistic. The whimsical story is anchored by a good performance from Peter Firth as the out-of-his-depth but adventurous Dominick for whom observing is not enough. In landing, he discovers what his race has lost, mainly its drive and its passion for life. His pleasure at simple things such as paddling in the sea and the perfume of a rose are transmitted to the audience, making them reconsider such simple things. He is aided enormously by Carol Langrishe as Jane, a lively and goodhearted woman who certainly takes more from her wayward explorer than most women would stand. Through her acceptance of Dominick, the audience can accept him as well.
The comedy, centred around Dominick's failure to understand the 1980s (making coffee with half a jar of instant in each cup, taking beer in the pub without money, walking in on Jane in the bath) is all very gentle and written to make us laugh with the characters rather than at them.
There are darker hints below the surface to stop the souffle from falling flat. The future is run by seemingly repressive people, led by Patrick Magee (who makes far more of his limited screen time than it deserves), and Dominick's girlfriend Ava seems genuinely fearful for him, and by extension for herself. Dominick also hears horror stories of others who landed and changed time disastrously. These, though, are just shadows. The main story is warm and light and utterly feelgood. There can be few who could walk away from this without a glow of contentment.
All this and the time travel element neatly tied up in a closed circle. No wonder it's so fondly remembered.
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