G.B.H. (1991– )
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The story is truly mesmerising, on the face of it a plain story of extreme left-wing politics in local government. So very typical of the late 70's and early 80's Britain and led to the phrase "Loony Left".
As the story progresses we learn that not all is quite what it seems. Michael Murray (Robert Linsay) is shown to be just as much of a pawn of the system, as the wretched Jim Nelson (Michael Palin) who he tries to take down in the first few episodes.
The acting is powerful, and way beyond what is expected of a TV drama. Look out for many of Bleasedale's favourite actors throughout the story.
Sadly this was one of the last real dramas produced and funded by UK Channel 4 before they were forced by the UK government to produce more 'popular' programming. A move that eventually forced C4 from becoming the major source of funding for British film, into nothing more than a proud sponsor.
My favourite was GBH, it is so substantially long that all characters receive the fleshing out they deserve, some episodes are hard hitting drama, others are on a smaller more personal level and others are out and out hilarious (one commentator mentions the daleks scene which was verging on slapstick in the midst of high drama and yet it worked perfectly).
Simple to follow yet complicated plot, great all round performances cemented by towering contributions from Robert Lynsey and Michael Palin, while the script wears its heart on its sleeve it does not become too sentimental, nor does it lecture.
Perfect television, and criminally unreleased on dvd, Channel 4 would make a packet if they repeated it then released a spec edition.
GBH is a very analytical and well observed view of politics, power, and how it affects the people involved.
It's first class - I wish that more TV drama was as good as this!
In part it's a story about how The Left can be manipulated by the Far Right; in other ways it is a character study, particularly of Palin's character - even if occasionally the comedy sits just a little uneasily with the drama. Given the series' intensity though, it's faintly amazing that they were able to get with some scenes at all.
I do have a few criticisms of GBH. At times it can be painfully slow, with some scenes which are stretched out for minutes, to no real purpose. Also, the eccentric, obnoxious hotel owner is obviously inspired by Basil Fawlty, and his antics get just a little distracting.
I would give GBH about 8.5, but to quote a record review I remember reading (actually it was of an Elvis Costello album, and Costello provides background music to the series), "by the standards of mortal craftsmanship, this is a wondrous thing indeed."
The script is intelligent, thought-provoking, and also has a dark comical edge to it. I can't think of many dramas that have delivered such an entertaining roller coaster of emotions.
G.B.H. is a brilliant creation, that fully deserves its 'classic' status.
The situation is viewed through the eyes of the elected local government official who is played like a puppet by the would-be power-mongers of the day (pseudo-socialists trying to hijack every situation to make the tory government of the day look ridiculous) regardless of the casualties caused by their actions.
The elected official starts out as a hard character, whose weak spots are exposed by the puppeteers through a relentless barrage of political and psychological attacks, gradually exposing the child within the hard exterior - and ultimately concluding with the deposition of said character - who departs with most of (if not all) of the audience's sympathy.
This is a riot of a screenplay, placing first our hatred, and then our sympathy with main character - often with bizarre & humorous consequences.