This Is England 88 at BAFTA

Engrossing, humorous and darkly disturbing, Shane Meadow’s This Is England has been one of the best British TV Series for many a year. In it he created a group of characters who the British public instantly related to. These were not the typical two dimensional superficial character’s which usually grace our screens, but protagonists which the viewers grew to love and know well.

To celebrate the release of the latest segment of the story Shane Meadows presented a preview of This Is England 88 at BAFTA. 88 occurs two years after the last outing, focussing on the characters at Christmas time and how they have dealt with the fallout since 86. The original film centred around Meadow’s memories surrounding the skinhead movement whilst 86 was about the World Cup. 88 however does not focus on a specific event and is all the better for it, giving a chance for the characters to breath and examine how they have progressed since the last series.

88  may make the Eastenders Christmas special look like The Waltons, but all the doom and gloom are interjecting with moments of humour. This is what really makes the series stand apart from the grubby kitchen sink dramas that Britain is known for, creating a sense of realism without resorting to a depressing slant on the word. Therefore whilst being confronted with Lol’s grim predicament we are also shown Woody’s awkward adjustment to working a 9 to 5 job and Shaun’s first foray into acting. Naturally all these story lines cross and become more complex as they progress.

Meadows is certainly a director in tune with the content of his work and all the This Is England series is based upon his experiences and people he once knew. Therefore it’s no surprise that the performances he gets out of the actors are so powerful and true to life. On set he ensured that Vicky McClure and Joseph Gilgun were kept apart on set so when they were reunited onscreen it was more convincing. Scenes like this reconciliation are moving without being over sentimental, with Meadows being able to pull the viewer in through well composed shots and dialogue which rings true. This is not to mention the select of music which is always dead on suiting every scene’s distinct emotional state without feeling forced.

This Is England 90 is certainly in its way and take a new direction focussing on the emerging rave culture of the nineties. It will also see the return of Combo who will try to give back to his community after serving his sentence in prison. The show has itself has certainly made sara of its lead actors. Joseph Gilgun aka Woody will next be seen in MS One: Maximum Security an action thriller co-starring Guy Pierce and Maggie Grace. Vicky McClure who took the BAFTA for best performance will next be seen in the exciting new TV series Love Life along side David Tenant. As for Meadows himself he may next be working on a documentary about The Stones Roses, examining a band which is close to his heart.

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