Telstar (Telstar: The Joe Meek Story)


Telstar (Telstar: The Joe Meek Story)

Critics Consensus

Nick Moran's excellent portrait of an often forgotten pop legend is as eccentric and chaotic as its subject.



Reviews Counted: 27

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Audience Score

User Ratings: 557


All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 3.6/5

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Telstar (Telstar: The Joe Meek Story) Photos

Movie Info

Adapted from Nick Moran and James Hicks' critically-lauded stage play, Telstar tells the remarkable tale of eccentric, London-based songwriter/producer Joe Meek (Con O'Neill), whose innovative recording techniques ushered in a bold new era of rock 'n' roll in the late 1950s. Tone deaf and musically illiterate, Meek nevertheless had a lifelong obsession with music and a knack for producing. Though Meek's tireless work ethic ensured a tumultuous relationship with his band, his ramshackle, apartment recording studio provided just enough space to record, and experiment with such cutting-edge techniques as sampling and distortion. Meanwhile, his landlady Mrs. Shenton does her best to put up with the racket, and his main backer Major Wilfred Banks (Kevin Spacey) provides the cash to produce such hits as "Be-Bop-A-Lula", " Johnny Remember Me", and, of course, "Telstar".

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Con O'Neill
as Joe Meek
Kevin Spacey
as Major Banks
Pam Ferris
as Violet Shenton
J.J. Feild
as Heinz Burt
James Corden
as Clem Cattini
Tom Burke
as Geoff Goddard
Ralf Little
as Chas Hodges
Sid Mitchell
as Patrick Pink
Mathew Baynton
as Ritchie Blackmore
Shaun Evans
as Billy Kuy
Callum Dixon
as John Leyton
Tom Harper
as Alan Caddy
Jon Lee
as Billy Fury
Nigel Harman
as Jess Conrad
Jimmy Carr
as Gentleman
Carl Barat
as Gene Vincent
Justin Hawkins
as Screaming Lord Sutch
Clem Cattini
as Chauffeur
Jess Conrad
as Larry Parnes
Chas Hodges
as Mr. Brolin
John Leyton
as Sir Edward
Joan Hodges
as Biddy Meek
John Hayter
as John Peel
Craig Vye
as Mitch Mitchell
Gary Whelan
as Detective
Liam Smith
as Desk Sergeant
Jake Arnott
as Board of Trade Man 1
Jon Ivay
as Board of Trade Man 2
Anthony Milner
as Board of Trade Officer
Rita Tushingham
as Essex Medium
Gareth Corke
as Accountant
Mike Sarne
as Front of House Manager
Alicia Davies
as Lady Victim
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Critic Reviews for Telstar (Telstar: The Joe Meek Story)

All Critics (27) | Top Critics (3)

  • Even if 'Telstar' can't quite get the measure of its fascinating material, its pluck and ambition prove infectious enough to outweigh its flaws.

    Jun 19, 2009 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • Nick Moran's film, based on the stage-play he wrote with James Hicks, is an eccentric, sometimes underpowered but always watchable story about the early-60s prehistory of pop culture.

    Jun 19, 2009 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • Fairly crackles with character and period flavor for its first 90 minutes but is let down by a repetitive and tiresomely maudlin final half-hour.

    Nov 6, 2008 | Full Review…

    Derek Elley

    Top Critic
  • You know, this isn't an unenjoyable movie and, if you are desperate to see a movie, it'll do, but it's never fully satisfying because it never fully decides what sort of film it wants to be.

    Aug 29, 2018 | Full Review…
  • An overlong but fascinating look at the life of a forgotten innovator of early rock'n roll

    Jan 24, 2013 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • Nick Moran definitely emphasizes certain characteristics of the idiosyncratic producer over others for affect, but this is still as fascinating portraits in parts.

    Jun 19, 2009 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Telstar (Telstar: The Joe Meek Story)

This film has so much energy, helped in part by a towering central performance. Unmissable.

Marcus Woolcott
Marcus Woolcott

Super Reviewer


In "Telstar," Geoff Goddard(Tom Burke) gets a rude awakening to the music business in 1961 as Major Banks(Kevin Spacey) has little idea that he is a writer when he shows up to work at a chaotic music studio in London. Joe Meek(Con O'Neill) has more important things on his mind like the ambient sound in the bathroom. And then there is Mrs. Shenton(Pam Ferris), his landlady, who wants to know what the black spots in her ceiling are. Meek tells her that it is only rubber cement; so that's alright, then. With its cool period music, injections of visual panache and intriguing subject, "Telstar" clearly should have been better, but never truly escapes its stage origins, especially in an introductory scene that goes on forever. And the movie lacks any serious point of view, as Goddard comes and goes as he pleases. As far as Meek goes, the movie cannot make up its mind about him. On the one hand, we have somebody who had one, maybe two good ideas(if that), and apparently passed on every band who hit it big in the 60's. But then hindsight is always 20/20. After which, the movie tries to go in the completely opposite direction in the postscript by mentioning how much an innovator he was. So, which was it?

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

A brilliant exploration of the British music scene in the early 60's and the revolutionary producer Joe Meek. O'Meill is fearless in the role and is the main reason to watch this but he is also supported by the cream of British talent...and Kevin Spacey! The film moves from comic fun to dark tragedy and it helps if you're familiar with the music or some of the great artists the actors are portraying but since this is an era I've always loved I thought the whole thing was great.

David Sayers
David Sayers

Super Reviewer

It took Nick Moran the best part of 12 years to get this made. And the end result's screamingly energetic, wildly uneven, gay as a goose and at times, utter genius. As a Joe Meek biopic, it's perfect.

Roy Gutteridge
Roy Gutteridge

Super Reviewer

Telstar (Telstar: The Joe Meek Story) Quotes

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