A couple of years ago Talking Pictures TV debuted in the UK, showing the kind of old British potboilers we just weren’t seeing on telly anymore. A whole new audience discovered the pleasures of the stiff upper lip, female repression and casual torture.
Old Movies Saved My Life, theSpace @ Jury’s Inn (Venue 260) ***
Back in the Seventies and Eighties the same work was being done by BBC2 and Channel 4, which regularly showed the likes of The Wicked Lady (Margaret Lockwood IS a highwaywoman), The Barbarian (Ramon Novarro IS an Arab Prince) and The Mask of Fu Manchu (Myrna Loy IS... Chinese?).
To a teenaged Mel Byron growing up in a very dull town they provided life lessons – how to dress, how to treat men and how to wear an emu on your head and look devastatingly cool.
And here she is, sharing the wisdom in a fun show that combines autobiography with film history. It’s fascinating to see what Hollywood could get away with before the Hays Code dialled down how much of life’s rich/delightfully sordid tapestry could be presented on screen. By the end it felt like we were all in a lovely film club. This show won’t save your life, but it may just make your day.
• Until 25 August, 5:10pm