5 out of 10

Release Date: 19th June 2009

Director: Nick Moran (The Kid)

Cast: Con O’Neill, Pam Ferris, JJ Feild, Tom Burke, James Corden, Ralf Little, Sid Mitchell, Matthew Baynton, Shaun Evans and Kevin Spacey

Writer: Nick Moran and James Hicks

Trailer: TELSTAR

Con O’Neill (DANCIN’ THRU’ THE DARK) plays Joe Meek, the godfather of modern pop music as we know it. The creator of many of the recording methods taken as gospel in everyday practice, he makes for a brilliant subject.  A troubled manic depressive who was outed by the press for his homosexuality when it was still illegal in the UK, he was still well revered for producing some of the most famous rock n roll / pop bands of the era, famously ignoring the opportunity to sign The Beatles or The Kinks.  To some he is a hero but this film attempts to shine a spotlight on the man himself to redress his continued legacy. He won the Ivor Novello award for the composition of the “Theme From Telstar” and he produced such household names as The Tornados, The Honeycombs, Johnny Leyton, Heinz and produced the 1960s Britpic Live It Up.

Actor, Nick Moran‘s directorial debut is a bit of a mess but despite it’s scrappiness it is still one of the best recreations of 1960s London onscreen for sometime.  The performances are even reminiscent of those you may catch on Hancock’s Half Hour or On The Buses.  Con O’Neill has found the role of a lifetime (he also played Joe Meek in a West End play of his life) and proves that his wild casting was a risk worth taking by the filmmakers.  Equally affecting in the ups and downs of his career, he convinces as he blasts to smithereens all traces of the string of hunks and macho men he has played in TV series over the last 30 years.  The main problem with the film is the structure and the amount of activity.  Juggling scenes that seems like triple-strength Robert Altman, conversations and events are lost in the melee.  Telstar needed boiling down to actually follow events more clearly. Everybody acts there socks off but there seems to be little spark.  It feels like everybody is concentrating on keeping their beats and trying to be noticed or heard above the clatters and bangs coming from down the hall.  It certainly looks like it was a very hard film to construct.  Jokes and pathos are lost at the expense of the constant chaos.  This may be an authentic depiction of events at 304 Holloway Road, but it doesn’t make for great viewing. Great character actors, namely the mighty Kevin Spacey (AMERICAN BEAUTY) and Pam Ferris (MALICE IN WONDERLAND), scurry about at speed, blurt out lines and disappear.  I wish I could have liked Telstar more because it’s not often we get to see interesting character / period pieces like this anymore.

Fans of the history will be thrilled to see famous recording sessions recreated and the production design is top notch. Telstar is a sad story about a neglected genius, but ultimately it fails because it is way too chaotic to appreciate, much like Joe Meek himself no doubt.

5 out of 10 – Difficult to follow, this is a scrappy and chaotic sprint through the life events of one of the music industries true geniuses.


  • Con O’Neill: GBH, The Kid (2010), Bedrooms & Hallways, Dancing Thru The Dark
  • Pam Ferris: Call The Midwife (TV), Saving Santa (voice), Nativity 2, The Raven, Luther (TV),  Malice In Wonderland,  Nativity, Children Of Men, Rosemary & Thyme (TV), Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkhaban, Death To Smoochy, Matilda, The Darling Buds of May (TV), Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, Meantime
  • JJ Feild: Not Safe For Work, Austenland, Captain America,  Third StarCenturion, Goal 3, Blood – The Last Vampire
  • Tom Burke: War & Peace (TV), Utopia (TV), The Musketeers (TV), The Hooligan Factory, The Invisible Woman, Only God Forgives, CleanskinThird Star, Donkey Punch, Cheri
  • James Corden: Lady In The Van, Into the Woods, One Chance, The Three Musketeers (2011), Gulliver’s Travels (2010), Gavin and Stacey (TV), Horne & Corden (TV), Lesbian Vampire Killers, How To Lose Friends and Alienate People, The History Boys, Starter For 10, Pierrepoint, Fat Friends (TV), Teachers (TV), Heartlands, All or Nothing, Whatever Happened To Harold Smith?. Twentyfourseven
  • Ralf Little: Nativity 3, The Unbeatables (voice), Powder (2011), The Waiting Room, Two Pints of Lager and a Packet Of Crisps (TV), 24 Hour Party People, The Royle Family (TV)
  • Shaun Evans: Wreckers, Boy A, Sparkle (2006), Cashback, Being Julia, Teachers (TV)
  • Sid Mitchell: Flashbacks Of a Fool, I Want Candy, Wah Wah, Goodbye Charlie Bright
  • Kevin Spacey: Horrible Bosses 2, House Of Cards (TV), Inseperable, Horrible Bosses, Margin Call, The Men Who Stare At Goats, Moon (voice), 21, Fred Claus, Superman Returns, Edison, Beyond The Sea, The Life Of David Gale, The United States Of Leland, The Shipping News, Pay It Forward, K-Pax, Ordinary Decent Criminal, The Big Kahuna, American Beauty, Bugs (voice), The Negotiator, Midnight In The Garden Of Good and Evil, LA Confidential, A Time To Kill, Se7en, Outbreak, The Usual Suspects, The Ref, Swimming With Sharks, Iron Will, Consenting Adults, Glengarry Glen Ross, Henry &  June, See No Evil Hear No Evil, Working Girl, Rocket Gibraltar

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