Cloning Of Joanna May, The (ITV 1992, Patricia Hodge, Brian Cox)

The superb Fay Weldon has always been a woman of visionary ideas, often labeled as a writer of a feminist slant she has also quite often combined that with stories that definitely lead towards science fiction. Her best known work The Lives and Loves of a She Devil took the idea of the wronged wife to a whole new level and here in The Cloning of Joanna May she expands on the subject.

The team who brought She-Devil to the screen are also involved here, scriptwriter Ted Whitehead, director Philip Saville and star Patricia Hodge and the vibe, despite being made for ITV as opposed to She-Devil’s BBC, is very similar. Hodge plays forty something Joanna May who has been living estranged from her wealthy nuclear energy power plant CEO husband Carl (the brilliant Brian Cox), even though both have taken younger lovers (a young James Purefoy for Joanna and the sexy Siri Neal for Carl) they are both still very much obsessed with what the other is doing.

Matters come to a head when Joanna discovers that Carl (using DNA taken from her during a supposed abortion back in the late 1960’s) has been making serious inroads into actually cloning her and that he has created three other versions of her. Whilst Carl has plans to take one of them as his new wife Joanna has plans of her own to claim to take the clones as her own.

A fantastic piece of drama, one that is part humanist drama about relationships and one that equally has as much to say about the dangers of new technologies and their scope for going wrong. The issue of the privatisation of so many public sectors, including nuclear energy was much a political hot potato at the time and really that hasn’t changed at all and prove just how on the mark Weldon was.

production details
UK / ITV – Granada / 2×90 minute episodes / Broadcast 26 January – 2 February 1992

Writer: Ted Whitehead / Novel: Fay Wheldon / Music: Rachel Portman / Executive Producer: Sally Head / Producer: Grub Neal / Director: Phillip Saville

Patricia Hodge as Joanna May
Brian Cox as Carl May
Billie Whitelaw as Mavis
Sarah Badel as Angela
Oliver Ford-Davies as Gerald
Jean Boht as Mrs Love
Siri Neal as Bethany
Peter Guinness as Philip
James Purefoy as Oliver
Peter Capaldi as Isaac
Ian McNeice as Doctor Holly
Emma Hardy as Jane
Helen Adie as Alice
Laura Eddy as Gina