Marvellous is a wonderful film and the one I’ve had the most requests about, mainly asking “When will Marvellous be released on DVD?” The answer has now been revealed…. and then put back to December 1st. Click on the DVD logo above for more info, and you can purchase it from there.
Marvellous told the almost-true* story of Neil Baldwin (Toby Jones, right), a man who became an absolute legend at Keele University, starting with the moment when he simply walked onto campus and greeted as many people as possible with the words, “Hello, I’m Neil Baldwin. Welcome to Keele University”, leading all the students into thinking he worked there.
And as he told his mother, Mary (Gemma Jones – no relation), that he had a job there, she asked him when did they offer it to him. He replied, “Tomorrow”. It was many heart-warming moments like that which made for a captivating and engaging drama, as well as his mantra that if you’re nice to people, they’ll be nice to you. And if someone isn’t nice to you, then there’ll always be someone else who is. I wish I could share such a simplistic view of life, but in many aspects of his life, as he was a unique individual, the way Neil was could only be described as, “Well, he’s ‘Neil’, isn’t he?”
As stated, Neil Baldwin was played by renowned actor Toby Jones, who has been in many high-profile movies such as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the Hunger Games series, as well as less well-known films such as Berberian Sound Studio. And while he didn’t sound, look or was quite as tall as Neil Baldwin, if you can get someone of his calibre to star in your film, you don’t really say no.
In Marvellous, Neil started up the Neil Baldwin Football Club, with his mate Malcolm (played by Greg McHugh) as Vice President (“Why can’t I be President?”, “Because Gary Lineker is. I’m about to write to him to give him the good news.”), then wanted to go on and manage Stoke City, making it to be their kit man as well as a hero and mascot to the team, all under the leadership of Lou Macari (Tony Curran); and we saw him deal with the death of his mother, a moment where, if you didn’t blub too, then you’re not human.
(*Okay, so he didn’t head that goal in for Stoke City, but they did explain that at the time in the drama)
However, when I was at Keele (1990-1993), I’m sure it was said that Neil Baldwin lived on campus after being run over by one of the university’s vehicles, and that that’s why he was there long-term. Or was it just an urban myth, as it was never brought up in this film.
Obviously, you had to overlook small elements such as the fact that when Toby Jones was walking around Keele University, it was filmed in the present day so the grounds were all decked out as they are now, following their 2012 revamp, so you have the sculpture by the shops, to make 50 years of Keele University, and the large green sign in white writing which states “Students’ Union” (apostrophe in the correct place, thankyou 🙂 ). However, in general, from what I saw of the campus when I revisited a few times over 2012/2013, meeting up with a friend who was doing a PGCE course at the time, large parts of it still remained the same, and retained their charm, even when I drove past two of the blocks I had many happy times living in – Horwood Z18, and Lindsay D-block (I was in room 9).
Other highlights included discovering Jagerbombs for the first time, while dancing to S Club 7, seeing Gabrielle Aplin later on, at Woodstoke, and watching Any Questions recorded, as Christine Hamilton went head-to-head with Yasmin Alibhai Brown.
Still, back to Marvellous, at the end of the film, the summary stated that Neil was given an Honorary Masters Degree from Keele University for services to student welfare in June 2013, since he has been welcoming students to Keele for 53 years. Here’s to the next 53!
Director: Julian Farino
Producer: Katie Swinden
Screenplay: Peter Bowker
Neil Baldwin: Toby Jones
Mary: Gemma Jones
Lou Macari: Tony Curran
Rev Mark: Nicholas Gleaves
Malcolm: Greg McHugh
Ringmaster: Paul Hunter
Rev McCoist: Steven Cree
Doris: Jaqueline Redgewell
Lorry Driver: Paul Bell
Security Guard: Ben Abell
Laino: Peter Bowker
Registrar: Michael Fox
Mr Saeed: Pal Aron
Bomber: Oliver Ashworth
Paddy: Toby DeCann
Susan: Sarah Finigan
Richard: Jack Wilkinson
Alan: Brennan Reece
Pete: Liam Ainsworth
Themselves: Gary Lineker, Uriah Rennie, Norman Barrett, Lou Macari and Neil Baldwin
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.