Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Review - Much More Than Two Men in a Boat: News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Review - Much More Than Two Men in a Boat: News

Article excerpt

The Olympics are almost upon us. And so it is time to show off what Britain does best: period drama.

Bert and Dickie ticks all the requisite best-of-British boxes. Garnished with countryside, bicycles and Spam, it tells the story of Bert Bushnell and Richard "Dickie" Burnell, who competed in the sculling doubles at the 1948 London Olympics. (Sculling, as Bert explains, is not the same as rowing. Rowers hold one oar, scullers two.)

Bert (Matt Smith, only occasionally sounding like Doctor Who) is a single sculler; Dickie (the strapping Sam Hoare) is originally paired with another athlete. It is their coach who teams them with one another. They are an unlikely duo: Dickie rowed in Eton and Cambridge eights, while Bert lives in a two-up two-down with his parents. Dickie writes for The Times; Bert reads the Daily Mail.

But just as I was about to dismiss Bert and Dickie as "Downton-on-Thames", with a little bit of sporting Hollywood cliche thrown in for good measure, it turns out to be really very good. The film is barely off the starting block before the class-differences-getting-in-the-way-of-working-together problem is dealt with. And, instead, we are left with something much more interesting. …

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