What a tour de force Caroline Aherne and Jeff Pope are. The Fattest Man in Britain was a modern day fairytale. Its sentimentality and morality message were not in-your-face obvious, but it without doubt left me feeling the goodwill to all men thing.
The story was about Georgie, hugely overweight, lonely and Britain’s fattest man only because he could find no other niche in which he’d be exceptional. Timothy Spall played Georgie with the sympathy and empathy that we’ve long since known he brings to every role, and Bobby Ball as Georgie’s money-grabbing agent, Morris, put in a performance that hitherto, I personally didn’t think him capable of.
No braces snapping, not a great deal of slapstick and no cries of “Tommy” were issued forth; just immensely entertaining and believable acting as Morris fed Georgie as though he were fattening a turkey for Christmas.
And indeed, Georgie was Morris’s golden egg and Christmas turkey all rolled into one very large cash making and eating machine.
But it was all to change when Georgie struck up a friendship – that could well have bordered on love affair had things been different – with the young and pregnant teenager who was sent to his home to carry out community service. Amy – beautifully and poignantly portrayed by Aisling Loftus – could see right through Morris and did her best to remove Georgie’s blinkers so that he too may see that Morris wasn’t his friend and was using him as nothing more than an ATM, and humiliating him in the process.
And though all that sounds terribly sad – and it was in many ways and many scenes – the underlying northern humour was ever present and it had a feel of Alan Bennett about it, as well as being reminiscent of The Royle Family.
Amy and Georgie’s relationship was a joy to watch as it developed into a true friendship; one based on wanting nothing from each other besides for each to be happy. But the scenes following Amy’s miscarriage and her subsequently leaving Georgie when he blindly refused to see the truth about himself and Morris, would’ve made a stone shed a tear.
And blessedly, in the spirit of the season, it all ended happily as Georgie saw the error of his ways, thus allowing Spall to lose the fat suit and Georgie to emerge, butterfly-esque from his prison of lard.
If you missed it, you can see it here on ITV Player, and you won’t regret taking time out to watch it.