Saturday, 9 June 2018

Righting Wrongs: Maggie O'Neill 'Friday On My Mind' scene reassigned

A long standing error has been uncovered involving one of Maggie O'Neill's early topless scenes.

In the scene she is in a bath and then gets out to answer a phone in her hallway.  The source of this is widely ascribed to be from the 1992 BBC drama "Friday on My Mind".

However this turns out not to be the case.

My theory is that at some point in the late 1990s or early 2000s someone misidentified, misremembered or even guessed at what some unidentified/unlabelled screen captures/clips came from and this was disseminated as established fact by everyone else who was looking into it later.  And with no ready access to the original programmes there was no particular reason to doubt it - usually things are correct.  I certainly had no reason to question what seemed to be something well established.

However in an ongoing exercise to try and contextually improve descriptions of earlier entries that have been described only from clips, I recently watched Friday On My Mind expecting to see this scene - but it was strangely absent.  I was watching off-air recordings of the original transmissions so it didn't seem likely it had been edited.

Thusly the scene reverted to being a mystery to be solved.  I returned to the (mislabelled) clip I had of it and watched it again for possible clues.  In the scene Maggie O'Neill's character answers her phone which she hurriedly puts down as if was a crank caller.

Checking her credits for other possibilities from the same era I noticed that the 1990 BBC Screen Two drama "He's Asking For Me" concerned her character being bothered by a stalker who keeps calling her.  This had a clear resonance with what occurs in the clip and so seemed worth looking into first before expanding the search if it wasn't.

Fortunately a collector had the episode in question and was able to provide it for viewing - and it turned out to be the one!  Maggie O'Neill's bath scene occurs 30 minutes into it.

It's interesting how a mistake can become so pervasive.  I suppose it has persisted unchallenged because neither programmes have ever been released on DVD.  In fact the errancy is so ingrained that someone on IMDB has even included the keyword "bath" for Friday On My Mind.  And there are no bath scenes in it of any kind.

Additionally there is some further topless nudity from a stripper who does a turn between bouts at a boxing tournament.  She is named "Penelope" by the MC, but has no dialogue and is not credited.

As for Friday on my Mind the only partial nudity seen is a brief moment during a bed scene where she is laying upon Christopher Eccleston's character as they talk.
a scene from Friday on my Mind

More about the programmes

Friday on my Mind is a 3x50-minute BBC1 drama from May 1992 in which Maggie O'Neill plays the wife of an RAF pilot who is killed in a crash on a training flight over Wales while his squadron gears up to take part in the Gulf war.  Traumatised by her loss and emotionally vulnerable she becomes increasingly irrational in her overwhelming grief and starts an affair with one of her husband's pilot colleagues (played by Christopher Eccleston) who has been assigned as her liaison officer to help her through the tragedy.
Maggie O'Neill in Friday on my Mind

An interesting side note: After the end of part 3 there was a bit of after-programme run-on which was retained.  This consisted of a trailer for the drama to be shown the following week which was "Natural Lies" starring Bob Peck.  What is interesting is that back then it seems they were fine about including nudity in the trailers!  Also interesting (which I will have to follow up on) is that the nudity shown in the trailer is not a bit that is seen represented in the generally available clips from Natural Lies.
BBC trailer for Natural Lies

He's Asking For Me is a single-part Screen Two presentation from 1990 lasting 68 minutes.  Maggie O'Neill is a young woman with a tanned complexion who has emigrated from the remote British overseas mid-Atlantic island of St Helena where she has lived all her life up to now.  Coming from a very small close-knit community to the big city of London is a bit of culture shock but fortunately her uncle arranges a place for her to live and some employment with one of his associates.  Her new job is as a secretary in the offices of a starched lawyer called Andy Woodall (played by David Threlfall).  Very soon after settling in she starts receiving obscene phone calls from someone who knows her name but refuses to identify himself.  As the caller becomes more persistent she sets her mind to finding out who he is and engages with him becoming naively reckless as she attempts to arrange a meeting so she can confront him.  Her main suspect is Andy himself whom she quite likes and wouldn't mind greatly if it were him - but could she be wrong?  It was shown on BBC2 on 18/Feb/1990 although the date at the end indicates it was made in 1988.

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