Why Isn't This A Film? - Pies And Prejudice



What have we got here then?

Pies And Prejudice: In Search Of The North is part travel book, part humorous memoir from English radio and television presenter Stuart Maconie. It was released in 2007.

OK fine. What’s it about?

The central thesis of the book is Maconie's claim that the North of England is generally unrepresented in popular culture and that when it is represented it's only as a gross stereotypical collection of 'grim up North' prejudices by the (typically) Southern media. Maconie, a Northerner by heritage but at the time of writing living in the South, sets out to find out what the true North is really like.

Interesting. Is there something more?

Maconie is a radio DJ with a background in music journalism and he uses the opportunity to explore a wealth of Northern music; from the 'Merseybeat' years in Liverpool to Manchester's 'Madchester' culture and everything in between. There's also plenty of reference to popular literature and popular authors who have, in some way or another, shaped the image of the North.

Save me the trouble then – is it any good?

Maconie's work is hilarious on occasion and Pies And Prejudice is full of humorous anecdotes and stinging witticisms. The author's short shrift with anyone who dismisses the North on the basis that it's 'not the South' or other such ill-educated opinions is admirable and he does well to mix in both debunkings of the various myths that surround Northern towns with the truth about what they are really like. There's also a diligent amount of grudging admittance about the North's negative points and several sidesteps in to personal memoir territory that make the book a varied read.


Maconie (right) currently presents a BBC Radio 6 show with fellow DJ Mark Radcliffe (left).

But…

At times, Maconie rather undermines his argument by being as prejudicial about the South as he claims Southerners are about the North. One particularly sour-tasting passage sees the author describing a cab driver he has just met and doesn't know as being likely to be watching 'You've Been Framed on ITV3, perhaps in a string vest, and probably [thinking] Stephen Poliakoff was a midfielder Chelsea were after from Dortmund', based on the hardly conclusive feeling that the cabbie has ill-treated Maconie based on his Northern accent. Occasionally the book can come across as extremely bitter in tone although, often, the bitterness is either justified or juxtaposed with a lighter passage. There is also a question about who the book is for. As a Northerner, I found myself comfortable in the knowledge of many of the things Maconie brings up that are great about North England. Does that mean it's aimed Southerners? If it is, I'm not sure how they'll respond to it. Probably by being more vitriolically opposed to the North, its inhabitants and 'their ways'.

What are its chances of being made as a film?

It might initially seem like a poor candidate for a big screen adaptation but the story of the 'good ol' boy' who returns home from time away with scepticism about how his land has changed, only to find that it's as wonderful as ever, is a story that has made it to screens before. By the time the script made it to the screen there would doubtless be many changes to form a coherent fictional narrative but there are enough anecdotes here to weave a light comedy out of and still probably have room available to create a fictional romance.

But who'd star in it?

Christopher Eccleston - Northern, gritty, with more than a touch of class - would make a great protagonist as the champion of the wild lands North of Watford Gap services. Sean Bean - your atypical, Hollywood-friend, Northerner - could equally perform a fine service. The younger option is represented by Jody Latham - again Northern - and several other actors currently working in TV but ripe for a big screen role. Latham has recently been seen in Eastenders after a successful stint on Shameless. Who'd feature in the supporting cast is anyone's guess but there must be roles here for Bill Bailey and Brian Blessed and presumably any other actors with forenames and surnames beginning with 'B' who are associated with the British Isles.

Will it be any good?

There's definitely potential and perhaps even Maconie himself would be interested in fleshing out a work of fiction around his non-fiction experiences. It still feels like a bit too much of a long shot though.

Anything else I should know about it?

Maconie's first book, Cider With Roadies, explores his experiences as a music journalist in more detail and was similarly well received by critics and fans. Those less interested in the North and more interested in the music are advised to check it out.




Why Isn't This A Film? is a regular Film Intel feature which takes a book (you know... one of those things with pages in, doesn't project on to a screen, makes small rustling noises), comic, video game or graphic novel and assesses its adaptation prospects. One day this feature will get something right and we will win something major and valuable. Possibly.

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