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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 31 March 2016

This is a tale of the horror and misery of life in the 1980's for those unfortunate enough to be unemployed (of which there were many millions) in Thatcher's Britain.

The story focuses on several men who are desperate to find work, based in Liverpool. Things rarely go well for these men, and they - and their families - constantly suffer from poverty and deprivation.

Liverpool in the 1980's was a destitute place, largely abandoned by the government. And this TV series conveys the hellish state of affairs that existed.

Each episode focuses on a particular character. It's amazing that, for most (not all), these characters still retain some joy in their lives.

This DVD set contains the full series. It also has the one-shot TV movie that preceded the series - called "The Blackstuff". This one-shot had most of the same characters in it, as they worked laying roads ('blackstuff'). Hence the TV series is about "the boys" from "The Blackstuff".

Excellent stuff. If you want to know what the 1980's was like for millions of working class people, watch this.
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on 26 October 2013
The opening 2 hour 'Play for Today' TV film that lead to the 5 part mini-series isn't all that strong.
But the 5 remaining parts (ranging from 43 to 68 minutes) are often powerful stuff indeed. A
rueful, depressing and cutting look at unemployment and personal and economic depression
in the Thatcher years. The opening film isn't really needed, as one could pick up much of what
happened from the 5 part mini-series, but it does serve as a good basic set up for the characters
and their relationships, as a group of workers on the dole take an off-the- books job laying down
tarmac (the black stuff) at a new apartment complex. But in the original film the characters stay
frustratingly close to caricatures, and the story twists are largely unsurprising.

But in the 5 part mini-series, made 2 years later, that all changes. Each hour investigates one of
the character's lives in great depth and detail, The performances are very strong, and the stories
are almost all heartbreaking as we see what being unemployed and unwanted by society does to
these men; their families, their self-esteem, even their sanity. There are occasional darkly funny
moments, but this is grim, uncompromising stuff, with one episode in particular "Yosser's story"
as harrowing and disturbing and honest a piece of film- making as I've seen in a long while. It's
interesting (if depressing) to see how much of what was going on in England in 1982, could just
as well be America in 2013.
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#1 HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERon 14 May 2012
I was 12 when this aired on tv and didn't really understand what it was all about. I wasn't aware of the decrepit Liverpool whilst playing footy on the school fields in Kirkby.

TBFTBS starts as the story (originally written by Alan Bleasdale as a BBC play for today) of a gang of scouse tarmac layers on a job in Middlesbourough. The job goes wrong and they're all sacked!

Bleasdale then made a further five episodes for tv dedicated more or less to each character and how their lives changed from that day. This dvd doesn't include the muscle market which stared Pete Postlethwaite as a building site contractor who employs cheap labourers who are also collecting social security on the side.

The five episodes are. . .
Jobs for the boys.
Shop thy neighbour.
Yosser's story.
Georges last ride.

The boys from the Blackstuff introduces us to the characters therefore setting the scene for the following episodes. I found it interesting in that some of the rants/social statements made by the characters throughout the episodes are relavant to today's economic climate (in my opinion of course) Especially the mini lecture given by Snowy Malone in the back of the transit van on the way to a job where he subsequently dies and as he's laying there dead, a social security officer or snoop as they were known, reads an arresting statement out to the other lads. No matter what, they'll get their man!

This is a brilliant insight into the working class early eighties economy. It's desperate, funny, powerful, sad and tragic all rolled into one. It's a downward spiral with no happy ending in sight. Much like today? :)

It's one of those things I think all teenagers should watch and discuss in school or at home maybe to frighten them into studying harder. Mind you, I know people with good degrees who can't find jobs today!

Filmed in Liverpool the backdrops of the derelict dock and surrounding areas are a stark contrast to how the rejuvinated Liverpool looks today.

Anybody who has read Robert Tressell's The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, I would imagine would like this.

Brilliant indeed.
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on 23 February 2018
the 1980s were very bleak. This is thatchers Britain at its lowest. Highly recommended by those who were there, knew people who were or who now live in the spoilt surroundings we now find ourselves.

Very relevant as then now as with the food bank crisis sadly we have slipped back down the well
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on 19 April 2015
One of the most emotive yet genuinely realistic portrayals of life in the days of Thatcherism I have ever encountered. Bleasdale's deep and penetrative understanding of human struggle is readily provided in this dark humorous, somewhat epic brilliance that will affectionately scar the captivated audience for years to come. This 'play for today' dramatization occurred well before my own adolescence but easily related to the anguished characters; engulfed with personal indecision and self confession of their invariably challenged lives. It is a must have box-set that excites the insatiable inquiring mind and hugely fulfils that entirely.
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on 3 July 2013
an alternative title for this masterpiece of televisual production could so easily be "the tragic (and futile) pursuit of dignity in Thatcher`s Britain".
over 30 years ago Alan Bleasedale constructed this mini epic which still today never fails to strike poignantly at even the most cynical of persons. the opening episode reveals optimism in the minds of Loggo, Chrissie and Yosser as they seek to "get one over" on a pair of Irish schemers but backfires miserably so much so that they and 3 others lose out permanently on secured employment.
the 5 subsequent episodes then address the anguish of separate families as breadwinners struggle to overcome the hardships of unemployment coupled with the nagging and persistent pursuit of officers giving chase to expose those trying to `sign on` as they concurrently seek to work illegally. mixed in with typical Bleasedale cutting gallows humour are compelling scenes of illness, sadness, despair and mental frailty.
the bleakness of an out of work Merseyside is richly exposed as fantastic outdoors camera work captures so succinctly the abject desolation of a once thriving and proud dockland city. the production, direction, storylines and acting is superb, with particular plaudits for the thoroughly convincing character portrayals by Peter Kerrigan, Michael Angelis and Bernard Hill.
if you have yet to watch this drama then I would unhesitatingly recommend you do so, but with the caveat that you may feel at the end thoroughly dispirited, disheartened, shocked and emotionally shattered.
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on 29 March 2017
amazing acting, now i understand what it was like to try and support your family when you have nothing. you can feel the characters pain and emotion .
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on 25 March 2016
Excellent series. Only vaguely remember it from the 1980s as I was in my early teens at the time but really enjoying it. Many of the themes are still relevant, albeit it perhaps less visible in society today, although that might change with Mr Corbyn at the helm of the Labour Party?

Anyway, strongly recommend this series.
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on 26 April 2016
Boys from the Blackstuff is a part of my formative years, I preferred GBH but, coming from Merseyside this is the series that I remember more, "gizza job" was a rallying cry for quite a while around these parts. Everyone knew a Yozzer! I would recommend everyone should revisit this gem of a series :)
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on 2 August 2017
This drama says it like it was art the time in the 80s and shows how tougth life really was. Yosser is a legend lol
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