Now and then the quiet delight of Dinnerladies is interrupted by the arrival of Petula Gordino, Bren’s appalling mother. The mere promise of her approach is enough to have you hugging yourself with anticipation. This elderly embarrassment with her disreputable toy boys and her fantasies of fighting off Frank Sinatra is played by Julie Walters. If you want tragi-comedy, you want Walters.
Unfortunately Petula doesn’t make quite enough appearances to balance out Bren’s mirthless straight-woman, but for a show that usually involves half-a-dozen women standing in a row in a canteen, it’s a quietly British joy.
However, when I rule the world I will order there to be a command performance of The West Wing in which Leo McGarry is played by Duncan Preston (Stan off of Dinnerladies). Switch between those pages quickly. See — separated at birth!
“I’m sorry Mr President, but my dad was in the Desert Rats; he fed 32 fighting men for three days with only a tin of Ovaltine and a box of biscuits. If you think I’m sending someone before Ways and Means to ask for a bigger White House entertainment budget, another thing coming you have got!”