Little Voice belts out some big songs

Couch Potato Pickings

As most people know, this film about a shy northern girl with a gift for singing is based on the play written by Jim Cartwright. It was written specifically for actress Jane Horrocks because of her uncanny ability to impersonate the great divas of the 20th century.

I recall a huge deal being made of this when the film was released in the late 1990s, which I suppose was necessary because, unless you know these details, you’d easily assume that she was miming to the torch singers’ original tracks.

And that, I believe, was the original plan for the movie. Apparently the producers intended the internationally known Gwyneth Paltrow for the role, but somebody somewhere must have put their foot down and Horrocks was persuaded to play her Little Voice role on the big screen.

Little Voice, Ewan McGregor

Brenda Blethyn co-stars as her lusty alcoholic mother, Michael Caine as sleazy showbiz manager Ray Say, Jim Broadbent as a grubby club owner, and Ewan McGregor as telephone engineer-come-pigeon fancier Billy. All are brilliant and the distinctively northern setting is a character in itself. But, but this is Jane‘s film. Her quirky voice and expressive face are so unique. It’s hard to imagine anyone else in the role (although when I learned that kooky X Factor finalist Diana Vickers was playing her in the West End, I thought ah yeah, that makes sense).

Little Voice, Jane Horrocks

Who do you think LV does best? Shirley Bassey, Edith Piaf, Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, Gracie Fields…?

Speaking of our Gracie, check out BBC4 on Monday 23rd. Horrocks plays the 1930s singer/filmstar from Rochdale in the BBC4 drama Gracie! I, with my Rochdale roots, will of course be watching it.

Little Voice is showing tonight on BBC1 at 10.25pm