Telstar: The Joe Meek Story
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Telstar: The Joe Meek Story is a 2008 film adaptation of James Hicks' and Nick Moran's play Telstar, about record producer Joe Meek, which opened at the New Ambassadors Theatre in London’s West End in June 2005. The film is directed by Nick Moran and stars Con O'Neill, who also played Joe Meek in the original play, while Kevin Spacey plays Meek's business partner, Major Wilfred Banks.
|Telstar: The Joe Meek Story|
UK cinema poster
|Directed by||Nick Moran|
|Produced by||David Reid|
|Written by||James Hicks|
|Music by||Ilan Eshkeri, with songs by Joe Meek and others|
|Edited by||Alex Marsh|
|Distributed by||G2 Pictures|
The film tells the story of record producer Joe Meek, the songwriter-producer behind the 1960s hits "Have I the Right?", "Just Like Eddie" and "Johnny Remember Me". The film charts Meek's initial success with the multi-million selling record, "Telstar", his homosexuality which was illegal in the UK at the time, and his struggles with debt, paranoia and depression, which culminated in the killing of his landlady Violet Shenton and himself, on 3 February 1967.
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Some of those portrayed in the film assisted with the production, or appeared in minor roles playing older characters alongside the actors portraying their younger selves. Singer Chas Hodges, who appears as Meek's enraged neighbour, complaining about the noise by banging a dustbin lid, recommended Carl Barât of the Libertines for the role of Gene Vincent, whilst Tornados drummer Clem Cattini appears in a scene as John Leyton's chauffeur and provided advice on set design. Leyton himself plays the fictional "Sir Edward", and singer-actor Jess Conrad plays pop manager Larry Parnes. Meek's young protégée Patrick Pink (now known as Robbie Duke) appears as a stagehand.
The cast, in credits order, are:
- Con O'Neill as Joe Meek
- Kevin Spacey as Major Wilfred Banks
- Pam Ferris as Mrs Violet Shenton
- JJ Feild as Heinz Burt
- James Corden as Clem Cattini
- Tom Burke as Geoff Goddard
- Ralf Little as Chas Hodges
- Sid Mitchell as Patrick Pink (aka Robbie Duke)
- Mathew Baynton as Ritchie Blackmore
- Shaun Evans as Billy Kuy
- Callum Dixon as John Leyton
- Tom Harper as Alan Caddy
- Jon Lee as Billy Fury
- Nigel Harman as Jess Conrad
- Carl Barât as Gene Vincent
- Justin Hawkins as Screaming Lord Sutch
- Nick Moran as Alex Meek
- Jess Conrad as Larry Parnes
- Clem Cattini as Chauffeur
- Chas Hodges as Mr Brolin
- John Leyton as Sir Edward
- Robbie Duke as Stagehand
- Mike Sarne as Backstage Manager
- David Hayler as John Peel
- Craig Vye as Mitch Mitchell
- Joan Hodges as Biddy Meek
- Jimmy Carr as Gentleman
- Jim Field Smith as Ken Howard
- Marcus Brigstocke as Alan Blaikley
- Rita Tushingham as Essex Medium
- Gary Whelan as Detective
- Jack Roth as Youth
- Guy Lewis as Charles Blackwell (Music Arranger)
- Alan Scally as George Bellamy
- Dominic Arnall as Roger LaVern
After the premiere, Robbie Duke, formerly Patrick Pink, who had been Meek's young protégée and was present when Meek killed his landlady and himself, was very upset how the filmmakers had portrayed his relationship with Joe Meek, suggesting that they had been lovers. He expressed his anger for the press, and also posted an open letter to the filmmakers on the Internet, where he demanded a public apology. Similarly, the family of Heinz Burt has also criticized the film for portraying him as Meek's lover, claiming that Heinz Burt did not have a close relationship with Meek, and was also not a homosexual as portrayed in the film.
A columnist from the Daily Mail said that the film was a "shambolic but entertaining biopic". While enjoyable, it was "not much good and definitely not sophisticated". Siobhan Synnot of the Scotland on Sunday praised the film because it did not employ the usual "cinematic gloss". She opined that it begins with a humorous tone but transforms into a "harrowing film", adding that Telstar "knocks the wind out of the sails" of The Boat That Rocked in that the performances are "more substantial and engaged". Synnot concluded that "like Meek's records, Telstar is raw, fatalistic and somewhat crudely put together, but it also boasts both-barrels, mega-watt energy."
- Oberon Books: Telstar Archived 3 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 2012-08-11
- Sunday Express, 7 June 2009: Joe Meek: Tragic demise of a gifted musical maverick Retrieved 2012-08-11
- "Yahoo! Groups". Groups.yahoo.com. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
- Eaton, Duncan (19 June 2009). "Family's anger at Heinz Burt film's gay 'slur'". Southern Daily Echo. Newsquest. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
- "New DVDs". Daily Mail. (Associated Newspapers via Highbeam Research). 2 October 2009. Archived from the original on 18 November 2018. Retrieved 13 October 2012.(subscription required)
- Synnot, Siobhan (13 June 2009). "Film review: Telstar". Scotland on Sunday. Retrieved 12 February 2013.