Worried About The Boy, Red Production Company’s one-off drama for BBC Two, is based on the story of a young Boy George and his journey from cloakroom attendant to international cultural icon, set against the backdrop of the flamboyant fashion and pop music scene of the early-Eighties.
With a passion for fashion, make-up and music, George O’Dowd realised he was not like the other boys his age. Director Julian Jarrold describes him in the drama as: “Charming, witty, vulnerable and a bit of an exhibitionist.”
Leaving the suburbs of Eltham for the smoke of the city, George soon became a fixture at the infamous Blitz Club, the favourite haunt of those at the forefront of the New Romantic movement.
Jarrold continues: “We concentrate on this small group – ‘the cult with no name’ – who dressed up, made up, partied and ushered in the New Romantic movement. They lit up a grey world with their outlandish and exotic dress sense.”
Recreating the distinctive look of the period was one of the most challenging aspects of the shoot.
“Part of the fun of the script, and one of its greatest challenges, was that George and his friends had to have a different look for virtually every scene. And these looks had to be accurate as this world is extremely well documented.
“Fortunately, I met Donald McInnes (hair and make-up designer), who had actually done George’s make up in the Eighties and Annie Symons (costume designer), who had been a Blitz regular during this period, so we were well served. Their expertise was indispensible – especially recreating crowd scenes in the Blitz where everyone had to look authentic.”
Written by Tony Basgallop (Hotel Babylon; Hughie Green, Most Sincerely) and directed by Julian Jarrold (Red Riding, Brideshead Revisited), Worried About The Boy explores George’s life before he become one of the most recognised faces of the decade – from falling in love for the first time, to embracing his unique style, to meeting his Culture Club bandmates.
Talented newcomer Douglas Booth stars as George, Mathew Horne (Gavin And Stacey, The Catherine Tate Show) is Culture Club drummer and George’s former lover Jon Moss, Marc Warren (Hustle, Mutual Friends) plays nightclub pioneer and Visage front-man Steve Strange, Mark Gatiss (The League Of Gentlemen, Crooked House) is music impresario Malcolm McLaren and Freddie Fox (St Trinian’s II) plays Eighties pop star Marilyn.
Julian was incredibly impressed by his leading man: “Douglas gives an extraordinary nuanced lead performance. He is incredibly talented. He really captures the youthful George with great charm and wit – I would hope the real George will be completely won over! He also portrays his later years with maturity and poignancy.
“I just hope that by now his eyebrows have grown back and his face has recovered from wearing those many layers of makeup for 12 hours a day!”