on 29 September 2010
For years now we have been force fed bland television, programme after programme of 'reality TV' and countless 'lazy' buckets of tripe viewing.
When I heard that Shane Meadows was to head up a series sequel to the film 'This is England' I could see a glimmering spec of light at the end of the tunnel of TV crassness.
And thankfully Meadows delivers in spade loads. I'll be up front and say I've always been a fan of Meadows so this review although as objective as I can make it, will I'm sure be tainted a little with my admiration for Shane's work.
This is England (86) carries on from the film of the same name which largely centred around a lad (Shaun) played by Thomas Turgoose who lost his father in The Falklands War and who is being brought up by his mother. Very basically the film centres on how Shaun makes friends with a group loveable skinheads but then is also influenced by a more menacing right wing skinhead called Combo (played by Stephen Graham).
The television series moves the story on four years and although Turgoose is still one of the main players the story centres around Lol (played by Vicky Mc Clure) and the conflicting relationships she has with both Woody (played by Joe Gilgun) and Milky (Andrew Shim) together with her estranged relation ship with her mother and menacing father played by Kathren Dow Blyton and Johnny Harris respectively.
If your looking for drama you feel you can touch, together with characters and story lines you can empathise with then this has to be on your 'to buy'list. As always Meadows manages to make the ordinary very compelling and mixes both gentle humour and non compromising drama that will effect you emotinally in many ways.
Both Meadows writing and directing seem to bring out the most extrodinary performances from the casts he works with.
This is England 86 is no exception to this rule with wonderful performances from all of the cast particulary Danielle Watson, Vicky Mc Clure and Johnny Harris who have very challenging scenes to play in the series and who deliver them perfectly.
Meadows also seems to know when to hold the camera on a scene or an expression, keeping the dialogue to a minimum and letting the visuals deliver the emotion in certain scenes, Combo returning to his Mum's being a typical example of this.
I purposely haven't given too much away but it would be negligent of Me not to much that there are a number of scenes of a sexual nature that are very disturbing in the series particularly at the end of episode three.
Acknowledgements have also got to go out to co-writer Jack Thorne , co-director Tom Harper and Composer Ludovico Einaudi whose contributions all went towards making a wonderfully realised piece of drama.
I found myself laughing out loud, moved to tears and stunned into silence by 'This is England 86'. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
on 5 November 2011
This is easily the most powerful thing ever made for British television with the performances of Vicky McClure, Johnny Harris and Stephen Graham particularly compelling. In fact the crucial scenes around which these three interact are excruciating to watch. The tension is beyond palpable and indeed it is incredible to imagine how the actors were able to interact with each other off camera, so hard hitting are their scenes together. That said, there is more to this series than simply graphic depictions of violence: the juxtaposition of the violence with the numerous comic characters herein is brilliant and, as ever, Meadows remains resolute in sticking to his midlands roots. I've never seen anything homemade on British screens that comes even vaguely close. Easily the best thing made for British television, in my view.
on 27 December 2011
It was interesting to see the move from film to television for Shane Meadow's second trip to visit the cast of This is England. The majority of Meadows' material comes from his past experiences of growing up in Uttoxeter, and those of you who know his material well, may know that the character of Shaun was loosely based on Meadows when he was a kid, and his move into the Skinhead fashion, and even his ordeal with a severe beating played out right in front of his eyes. So it is interesting to see things from anothers perspective in the This is England gang.
The reason This Is England 86 is so interesting is because for the first time, Meadows' lead role is a female character, and a strong and independant one at that. The majority of his films focus on males and their dominance over small town communities, and the females are often only seen for a few moments, and take either a maternal or sexual role. However, in this instance, Lol is the strongest character in front of us, and Vicky Mcclure plays her to perfection. The characters have all visibly grown and the divisions in the group do not last for long.
Meadows' use of slow motion is also pretty special, the cinematographer really does have a special gift, and this series really is spectacular to watch, the realism is phenomenal and every scene just works to perfection.
Like any of Meadows' work it doesn't stay happy for long, and we learn about Lols dark past with her father, and we see her unlucky time with Woody and the flat and growing up. She doesn't ask for much as a character, but things manage to push her over the edge. I don't want to give away too much of the plot, although undoubtedly a lot of people looking at this review may already know what happens throughout the series. But hey! You might not.
I would say buy this, Meadows created a series instead of a second film to give all the characters more screen time. If you are already a fan of the film, get to know the characters you loved in more depth. If you are new to This is England, i'd advise buying the film as well, only so you understand a lot of why the group are how they are, especially in the first episode, but it isn't integral. Enjoy!
on 13 March 2012
I absolutely adore this. unmissable but on times unwatchable, it reaches to the core of who we are. if you don't find parts of this hard to watch your not human. but on times it can be the funniest and most up lifting experience, with some fantastic tracks and beautiful piano solos by Ludovico Einaudi.
The best part of the whole idea of This is England is the full range the actors are given to portray their characters. there are no script constraints that stick out, everything appears to be off the wall, with very little scripted acting. It reminds me so much of people and times when i was growing up.
The thug on the bike is an amazing character. I love the confrontation between the biker boys and the skin heads during the football match. to prove its unscripted, look at the lead thugs right hand man.......you can see how hard he is trying not to laugh at what the guy says.........i couldn't stop laughing!.....this guy reminds me so much of some of the complete numpties i went to school with. amazing performances
I also like the way that the story line is more diverse around the other characters, that it is less about Shaun and more about the group as a whole. Every council estate has these people on it. And the main story line!... and what happens to Trev...a lot more graphic than most people would find comfortable, but an essential portrayal. TV should be about challenging what you watch, and therefore challenging how you view the world.
I love this, and although i found 1988 to be a but disappointing after this, i can see that there are some fantastic story lines that could be taken into the 90's hear. Shaun has said himself, that this is a time he wants to explore, i would love to see how these people get on through that decade, and see how many of them come out the other end still standing!. beautiful, thought provoking, hard hitting, funny and fantastically acted. British TV at its best!
on 29 September 2010
Probably one of the best pieces of TV I've ever seen. I'm quite prepared to be told by someone that it is indeed THE best and I won't disagree. The other reviews say it all about the detail, so I won't ramble on beyond the point I made.
on 3 October 2010
Simply the best drama to hit our screens for a very long time - if this is passed up at the Baftas it will be a crying shame - a must view
This must be one of the best British TV series of the last twenty years. It was a bit kitchen sinky in as much as it wasn't always an easy watch, too near the unpleasant truth of how things were at the time rather than the often rosy specs view of nostalgia TV. I thought all the acting was of a very high standard, but Woody and Lol stand out for me as showing exceptional talents. Hurrah for Shane Meadows.
on 20 January 2012
I ordered this from Amazon before Christmas. It was a present for my husband (we both loved the film 'This is England') and what a fantastic viewing experience it is! I have long been an admirer of Shane Meadows' films - he seems to capture the way people talk and act so realistically it is mind blowing at times - so be aware of my bias.
The actors are all so good in a series which makes you laugh one minute while causing you to want to look away the next.
Beautifully filmed and incredibly moving.
In an age where working class English people are routinely represented as complete morons, this provides a welcome and three dimensional interpretation of working class experiences (plural - not singular).
Thank you Mr. Meadows.
Following the success of Shane Meadows' excellent movie 'This Is England' 2006, the master film maker was called up by Channel 4 to write more scripts for these wonderful characters, all of which reappear in this with the same actors behind them, as part of a four part mini-series called 'This Is England '86'. Here, Meadows was making his television debut, and he did it with class.
Set amongst the mod revival in 1986, three years after the events of the movie took place, 'This Is England '86', a social commentary of the time, is as much hard-hitting as it is hilarious. You'll certainly feel a combination of mixed emotions if you watch the entire series through. There were moments which I struggled to watch due to their unpleasant nature, none more so than the graphic rape scene which took place in the third episode. This is ultimately a programme which moves and teaches, as well as making for good, realistic entertainment.
I watched this series on it's first transmission, and I'm glad to be able to watch them again on this DVD. As with 'This Is England', I instantly become engrossed in the colourful lives of working class kids Shaun (Thomas Turgoose), 'Lol' (Vicky McClure), 'Woody' (Joe Gilgun), and 'Combo' (Stephen Graham), each of them very much their own individual, and beautifully played the stellar cast. Actress Hannah Walters, who only briefly popped up in the film as the assistant in the shoe shop, is given much more airtime, the character name of Trudy, and she plays the saucy part to perfection.
I highly recommend 'This Is England '86' for fans of a good drama, as I do it's sequels: 'This Is England '88', and 'This Is England '88'. The direction by Tom Harper (eps one and two), and Meadows (three and four) is perfect, and the soundtrack of classic '80s hits is super.
This is a two disc set, with the first DVD containing the first three episodes, and the second featuring the final, as well as a batch of special features including audio commentaries (with Shane Meadows featuring over the third episode), behind-the-scenes footage, out-takes, and deleted scenes.
on 27 April 2014
The story of a group of friends, depicting their social lives and relationships with one another during the summer of 1986. Whilst some are about to embark on new journeys, others are haunted by individuals returning from their past, unable to move forward, unless they put the ghosts to rest...
TV series follow up to Meadows' 2006 film. With the audience reunited with the protagonists of the feature film, including one or two new characters thrown in for good measure. The main story lines (without spoiling everything of course) are infidelity, joblessness, unfolding relationships, rape, friendship and betrayal. All to the backdrop of the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.
First some stuff I liked... Really good to see the characters return, only in a more fleshed out way. The introduction of some new characters gave it something interesting and fresh, with a particularly good performance from Harris as Lol's horrible father.
The overall standard of the production is excellent, with some great acting and engrossing moments as the story unfolds..
The things I think let it down at times were... Far too many silly scenes of humour that just didn't work, or I didn't care about, which in short made the cast less endearing and more annoying.
Where the film really captured the feel and times of it's setting throughout the film, this didn't. With a complete lack of any of the film's feelings of desolation and worthlessness, not to mention a somewhat perfunctory note as far as the football is concerned!
Except for one, or maybe two characters and the scenes they're involved in, a complete lack of the unpredictable and dark edge that the film had.
A music score which wasn't as vibrant as it could have been.
Overall Meadows and the gang have made a reasonably entertaining 4 part drama series, with all of the cast delivering some fine performances. Ultimately though, as a story it somehow feels a little rushed, and suffers from an overwhelming feeling of a lack of direction, on more levels than one, possibly caused by too much improvisation, I don't know. And although some will no doubt be disturbed by a rape in episode 3, I would also say this feels a little watered down when compared to the mindset of the original film.. Having said that, I watched the whole lot back to back, so it certainly held my interest.
The extras on the Blu ray include, Commentaries (Ep's 1 and 3), out takes, deleted scenes, behind the scenes interviews and tomfoolery, and some gallery stuff.