Julie Burchill: Absolute Cult

Tim Fountain

Gilded Balloon

From 30 July 2014 to 25 August 2014

Rating: ***

Review by David Chadderton

In this sequel to Julie Burchill Is Away, writer Tim Fountain once more teams up with director Mike Bradwell to have another stab at portraying the real-life cartoon that is novelist and journalist Julie Burchill.

In this episode, Burchill returns from Tenerife to a full answer-phone, including messages from her accountant about trying not to spend quite so much more than her income and from Big Brother offering her tempting amounts of money to be a celebrity housemate.

On a leopard print sofa draped with an Israeli flag behind a coffee table propped up on piles of books, Burchill drinks duty free vodka, snorts coke off the cover of Morrissey's Autobiography and gives us her philosophy of her life.

She ridicules therapy, slags off her ex-husband Tony Parsons (of course) and raves about Facebook, where she can write what she likes when she likes, even when drunk, and there are no sub-editors to water it down.

Fountain does bring out some of the contradictions and self-justification of the real person and puts in a few lines that try to sum her up, such as "in the beginning I used to play Julie Burchill, then I became her" and "when I'm not writing, my bad twin takes over".

Lizzie Roper gives a great performance with the squeaky, child-like voice of Burchill and her childish wilfulness but with an obvious intelligence shining through.

There's also plenty to laugh at in Fountain's well-observed script. One wonders now whether he has exorcised her spirit or whether this is to become a trilogy.