6 items from 2015
This is the end of This Is England - and bringing his powerful working-class saga to a close would seem no mean feat for series mastermind Shane Meadows. Both the original movie and its TV spinoffs have been of a spectacularly high quality, Meadows' truthful scripts and the scarily authentic performances of the cast fostering our deep investment in the characters.
That said, last week's episode was a devastating outpouring of emotion that set the stage superbly for this grand finale, with Milky (Andrew Shim) plotting revenge on Combo (Stephen Graham) - the reformed thug who once viciously assaulted him.
In its final TV outing, This Is England finally addresses that brutal moment from the '03 film - something that until now it's always danced around. There's a feeling of coming full circle that permeates this finale from the off, Meadows opening with one last example of his trademark montage. »
Last week, This Is England '90 served up a comparatively breezy opener - the calm before the storm, as actor Andrew Shim (Milky) remarked of Shane Meadows' work: "There's always going to be a dark day coming at some point."
Episode two again opens with a comic sequence; the charismatic Harvey - now Woody's replacement as the group's de-facto leader - pokes fun at the hapless Gadget, and there's some laugh-out-loud delivery from the show's secret weapon, Michael Socha ("There's a f**king bag within a bag here, dude!").
It's the summer of love, 1990, and rave culture is sweeping the nation - again, Meadows delivers more sunshine and happiness than we're accustomed to, and is still aiming for big, broad laughs with the continued presence of Flip and Higgy (even if Joe Dempsie's underplayed idiocy remains more effective than Perry Fitzpatrick's more excessive antics).
But that sickening »
The first episode surprised fans with its unexpectedly sunny and laugh-out-loud start for the gang - which includes Gadget (Andrew Ellis), Shaun (Thomas Turgoose), Milky (Andrew Shim), Lol (Vicky McClure) and Woody (Joe Gilgun).
But Graham gave us a resounding "no" when we asked if it was going to stay that way.
"It's what Shane [Meadows] does," the Boardwalk Empire star explained. »
"De-de-de-ding-ding / dig-a-dig-a-ding / a-flinky-flonk / wanky-shank ding-dong."
So this is England, 1990 - and Shane Meadows' latest follow-on from his 2006 film appears, on the surface, to be the saga's sunniest outing to date.
Our first reunion with the gang - 2010's This Is England '86 - was perhaps the most bleak. Replete with rape, murder and betrayal, it was to be admired rather than enjoyed.
The following year's '88 didn't spare the heartbreak either, but ended on a more optimistic note - and the beginning of '90 follows through on that, kicking off with a more positive outlook.
First episode 'Spring' - the four episodes being divided into the four seasons - opens with some good-natured larks, as Gadget (Andrew Ellis), Shaun (Thomas Turgoose) and Milky (Andrew Shim) wangle a free school lunch off of dinner lady kitchen boss Lol (Vicky McClure).
Milky's insistence that "the good times will come again" is »
It's 10 years since cameras started rolling on Shane Meadows' seminal This Is England and now the award-winning saga is about to draw to a close, with This Is England '90 launching on Channel 4 this Sunday.
The Berlin Wall and Margaret Thatcher have fallen, tie-dye and bowl cuts are in vogue and there's plenty of sex, drugs and all-night raves - but This Is England's final TV outing also explores how old friends grow apart over time.
"This series, as it unfolds, we start to look at the summer of love - and the drugs become more serious," says Meadows. "Things start to change - for the better for some, and for the worse for others."
For the cast, This Is England '90 brings to an end an epic journey they never expected to embark upon. "I don't think any of us ever thought that we'd do any sort »
This Is England '90 now has an air date.
Two years after the events of This Is England '88, the upcoming four-part outing follows the same group of youths in the north of England including Lol (Vicky McClure), Shaun (Thomas Turgoose) and Woody (Joe Gilgun).
Flip (Perry Fitzpatrick), Higgy (Joe Dempsie), Smell (Rosamund Hanson), Kelly (Chanel Cresswell), Harvey (Michael Socha), Trev (Danielle Watson), Gadget (Andrew Ellis) and Milky (Andrew Shim) are back as well.
The miniseries will premiere its first episode at the Edinburgh International Television Festival later this month. »
6 items from 2015
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