There was a part of me that wasn't looking forward to watching 'Mo'. I wasn't sure that Julie Walters could carry it off. Idiot. Of course she could. She grew into the role so that after half an hour you really did imagine she really was Mo. She even get her voice right.
There's no doubt about it, this film was reverential in the extreme and glossed over many of Mo Mowlam's weaknesses and faults. But I'm glad in a way. I'm not keen on biopics that tend to concentrate on negatives. Mo's fundamental humanity and ability to empathise with complete strangers was captured brilliantly. There's no doubt that she was an integral part in bringing about the Northern Ireland peace process, and although Blair didn't come out of it well, the film actually made the viewer understand why he moved her when he did. It seems reasonable to assume that he had noticed her gradual deterioration and needed a new face to enable the process to progress. The portrayal of Mandelson was glorious, although I imagine he was shifting uncomfortably in his seat if he was watching.
Gary Lewis, who played Adam Ingram, must be in line for an award for Best Supporting Actor, after putting in a stellar performance. I cannot say the same for the actor who played David Trimble. Anyone who has ever met Trimble would acknowledge that he is a very different character to the one portrayed in the film. Similarly, I had assumed the Peter Kilfoyle character was actually John Prescott, until they mentioned Kilfoyle's name. He hasn't had black hair since the 1970s.
The other negative point is that at two hours ten minutes, the film was at least 40 minutes too long. But that's nitpicking. It was a very moving (yes, I shed a tear) film which captured the essence of Mo Mowlam and her flawed genius.
I met Mo a few times. I even interviewed her once, for half an hour, when her autobiography came out. I started off the interview with a smart arse question and she reacted very badly. It taught me not to do that ever again. Once we got going, her real character came out. In fact, I've still got it somewhere on a CD. Perhaps I should upload it.
So, all in all, a great success for both Julie Waters and Channel 4 for commissioning it.