Topsy-Turvy 1999 ***

Writer/director Mike Leigh is best known for his beautifully wrought slices of modern life in Secrets and Lies of Happy Go Lucky; in 1999, he took a step back from observing the minutiae of social awkwardness and made this lengthy but hugely entertaining evocation of a key moment in the careers of Gilbert and Sullivan. Played by Jim Broadbent and Allan Corduner, WS and Sir Arthur are struggling with the mantle of creating popular entertainment; despite the strains on their friendship, the genesis of their enduring success The Mikado is on the horizon. Leigh regulars Lesley Manville, Timothy Spall and Alison Steadman all contribute memorable roles, and the music is treated with respect. And Leigh treats period drama like no other director; fascinated by pens and phones, the characters of Topsy-Turvy stand on the edge of a high-tech future, anticipating the future with glee.


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