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'Tommy Cooper - Not Like That, Like This' Review - David Threlfall Channels Beloved But Complex Comic Star

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Much of 'Tommy Cooper: Not Like That, Like This' concentrated on the sweet, romantic attachment between Tommy Cooper and his devoted assistant Mary Kay. Him delighting audiences from Penzance to the Palladium, her laughing at every joke, settling every nerve and tending to every need as they went on the road together

Which would have made for a sweet romantic drama, except for the small problem of Mrs Cooper - back at home, looking after the family, wondering where her husband had got to. And Mary's husband left behind too.

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Helen McCrory played Mary Kay, longtime lover of Tommy Cooper (David Threlfall)

And thus it continued for 17 strange years, belying Tommy Cooper's beloved stage persona as a simple-minded but sweet-hearted buffoon. In fact, the way this biopic told it, he was a troubled, stage-frightened, ordinary man who had to settle his nerves with drink, which all too soon became a habit, and who struggled to accommodate an over-crowded personal life that left no winners.

This focus on the comic's life has had its critics - with Tommy's daughter Vicky Cooper blasting the filmmakers for inaccuracies and saying the comic star "would turn in his grave", while writer Simon Nye and producers defending it, explaining they'd had the cooperation of both the real Mary Kay and her son - "the violence was on record," they say.

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Gwen Cooper (Amanda Redman) remained married to Tommy until his death in 1984

Whichever attitude you might hold, there was no arguing with the quality of both script and acting talent on show. Amanda Redman as Cooper's indignant wife Dove and Helen McCrory as the starstruck mistress inhabited their book end roles with deceptive ease and light touch, while it was testament to David Threlfall's commitment to the role of Cooper just how genuinely moving the finale became, as the much-loved comic died on stage, with his boots on and with the gags still coming.

What this script successfully did was show just how fitting it was that Tommy's final hurrah was on stage, making everyone laugh as the be-fezzed fool that was so beloved, and not off it where life had become far more complicated, and ultimately unsolvable.

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Tommy Cooper - Not Like That, Like This
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