Lady Boss: The Jackie Collins Story

Rating 7.7
Streamer BBC iPlayer
Seasons 1
Episodes 1 x 90 mins

They may be the type of books that you skim past in the bookshop, all too accustomed to the scandalously sleazy, pornstar martini fuelled holiday romances which fill their pages. But even if chick-lits aren’t your thing, the story of their author might be. This is Jackie Collins, the younger sister to a star, who ended up giving a sexually liberated voice to the modern woman, making millions along the way. But all is not as it seems – you should never judge a book by its cover, remember?

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When you picture Collins, it’s likely the big bushy hair, harsh bronzer, and heavy gold earrings that spring to mind. Domestic abuse, plastic surgery and empowering feminist ideals perhaps come as an afterthought, although bookworms with the ability to read between the lines perhaps picked up on these themes within the pages of her books. Lady Boss: The Jackie Collins Story is a fun and divulging romp into the writer’s life, switching between gossipy anecdotes and serious segments, shining a light on the internal and external turmoil Collins faced behind closed doors. 

+ For another documentary which looks beyond the façade, try Hawking: Can You Hear Me

Jeannette Catsoulis, writer for The New York Times calls the documentary a “dishy, affectionate portrait of the famous writer [which] finds grit beneath the glitz”. Catsoulis goes on to say “the dishiness is fun, but Lady Bossis most penetrating when it lifts the carapace of glamour Collins had constructed”, and what a carapace it was. In The Times, Kevin Maher agrees, promising that “some epic themes bubble beneath the surface of this fascinating biographical documentary”, with some “huge issues of identity explored”. 

However, the documentary refrains from going any further than this, likely why The Guardian’s Peter Bradshawcalls it “weirdly incurious but watchable”. Its incuriosity prohibits it from being a wider, more contextualised observation of feminism and literature. Instead, this is the Jackie Collins show, glittering and glamorous, with just enough grit to keep you entertained.

This is the lady boss who had control over hundreds of characters’ lives, just not her own.

First shown October 2021. 

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