Episode 43

Soho Bites 43: The Good Companions (1933)

The Big Jessie series.

This is the first of a three part mini-series focusing on the 1930s' biggest UK film star, Jessie Matthews.

None of Jessie's films were set in Soho, but the fact that she was born on Berwick Street where her dad was a market trader, that she lived in William & Mary Yard on Brewer Street and that she learned to dance in an upstairs room at The Blue Posts means that, as far as we're concerned, any film starring Jessie Matthews is a Soho film.

Across the next three episodes we will talk about three different Jessie films and learn about her life through talking to several special guests. In this first episode, we talk to Rob Baker, Jade Evans and Dr Lawrence Napper about Jessie's early life and her rise to stardom and Lawrence hangs around to talk about Jessie's 1933 breakthrough film, The Good Companions.

Also starring a very young John Gielgud, Edmund Gwenn and Mary Glynne, The Good Companions was directed by Victor Saville, produced by Michael Balcon and was based on a best selling 1929 novel of the same name by JB Priestley.

Watch this 1981 BBC documentary about Jessie Matthews.

Jessie appeared on This is Your Life in 1961.

Jessie's biographer, Michael Thornton wrote this appalling, salacious, muckraking and probably untrue article for the appalling, salacious, muckraking Daily Mail which I have pasted it into this Google Doc to deprive the Mail of your clicks.

Rob Baker is on Twitter and you can buy his books HERE.

Article about Jessie by Rob on his Flashback website.

Follow Jade on Twitter and/or Instagram to learn about her research in fact you can find all her links HERE.

Buy Jessie's autobiography or read it for free online.

Of course, Lawrence is on Twitter too and here's his At the Pictures blog.

In this episode, the passage from Jessie's autobiography was read by Jane Slavin whose official title is, apparently, "Queen of Loveliness".

During the pandemic, we made an episode of Mural Morsels about Jessie Matthews.

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Check out our spin-off series Mural Morsels

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