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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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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.
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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.
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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.

Totally amazing.
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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
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VINE VOICEon 12 February 2012
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.
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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!
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on 2 May 2016
Brilliant storytelling, superbly directed and acted. Set against the harsh backdrop of rundown council estates that evokes the mid eighties era of Thatcher`s Britain. This doesn`t always make for comfortable viewing especially the rape scene at the end of episode three but I do believe these subjects should be confronted instead of burying our heads in the sand. There is some great humour to relieve the starkness though, I loved the wheelchair race in the hospital and the on off relationship between Gadget and the older Trudy. Highly entertaining stuff, well done to all concerned. Can`t wait for This Is England 88.
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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 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!
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on 21 February 2014
We were desperate to see this after the film which we enjoyed so much.
Although this is considerably darker in many ways, exploring issues of abuse and rape, it still has some elements of fun and reflects events happening in the 80's.
Most of the gang come back together in this series and make it almost as good as the original film.
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on 9 October 2010
I'll not waffle on as I don't need to - the first reviewer gives more than enough detail. It is easily the best thing that's been on our TV screens, made by us, for a decade. No doubt about it. It's the kind of TV that lingers with you long after the closing credits have finished. The characters are complex, flawed, loveable and in one particular case, so easy to hate.
Shane Meadow's touch is evident in the last 2 episodes which provoke the full spectrum of emotions as you watch it (the last scene of episode 3, be warned, is just traumatic to watch as is one of the later scenes in episode 4).

The journey Meadows takes us on is worthwhile, brillant, traumatic and astonishing. Watch it.
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