The Short and Curlies

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The Short and Curlies
"The Short and Curlies".jpg
Directed by Mike Leigh
Produced by Simon Channing-Williams
Victor Glynn
Written by Mike Leigh
Starring Alison Steadman
Wendy Nottingham
Sylvestra Le Touzel
David Thewlis
Music by Rachel Portman
Cinematography Roger Pratt
Edited by Jon Gregory
Release date
Running time
18 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

The Short and Curlies is a 1987 short film written and directed by Mike Leigh. It stars Alison Steadman, Wendy Nottingham, Sylvestra Le Touzel and David Thewlis. The hairdressers 'Cynthia's' was in Willesden and exterior locations were in nearby Harlesden. Channel Four put up money for the film and, pending the success of this project, agreed to co-produce with Portman Productions Leigh's first feature film since Bleak Moments – what became 1988's feature movie High Hopes (with music by Rachel Portman).

The short, 18-minute film, made after three weeks of rehearsal, concerns a chatty hairdresser, Betty (Alsion Steadman), her shy daughter, Charlene (Wendy Nottingham), and one of her customers, Joy (Sylvestra Le Touzel). Joy works in a chemist's shop and is chatted up by Clive (David Thewlis, in the first of his three Leigh roles) over the Durex counter.[1] "On the one hand there is ritual, physical indignity, rubber, prevention; on the other, new life, love, marriage. Charlene slips sadly and silently between two stools..."[2]


Alison Steadman, who has a hairdresser sister, said later that she loved playing Betty: "If Mike said I could do one of my parts again, that's the one I would choose. I loved her from the word go, the minute I got the curlers and the scissors in my hands. It just clicked. Sylvestra is a terrible giggler, and we just giggled the whole time, it was terrible. Great fun though."[3]

Thewlis's Clive is 'an incipient motormouth' – though not in the same class as Johnny in Naked – with a line in bad jokes; 'What's round and really violent? A vicious circle.'


The Short and Curlies was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Short Film.[4]


  1. ^ Michael Coveney, The World according to Mike Leigh, p. 187
  2. ^ Coveney, p.188
  3. ^ Coveney, p.189
  4. ^ "Awards for The Short & Curlies". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2011-03-16.

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