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2 items from 2011

Box Set Club: The Lakes

27 September 2011 8:21 AM, PDT | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

Twentysomething sex, drink and drugs collides with harsh reality in Jimmy McGovern's Cumbria-set morality tale

Current Spooks scheduling aside, we all know what Sunday evening television on the BBC is supposed to be: rolling hills, gentle plotlines, the occasional priest ambling politely into view. It's Hamish Macbeth, Ballykissangel, Monarch of the Glen. But for four weeks in 1997, Sunday evening on BBC1 was Jimmy McGovern's The Lakes – and while the priest and rolling hills were still in place, the plotlines were a long way from gentle.

A Cumbria-set tale of Liverpudlian likely lad Danny Kavanagh (John Simm), The Lakes is a hard-bitten riot of a show. Set in the dog days of the last century, it tackles everything from gambling addiction to how it feels to be the outsider in a small community when tragedy hits.

Rewatching it now the most notable (and in some ways shocking) thing is how little has changed. »

- Sarah Hughes

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Paul Abbott's Exile: The prodigal returns

18 April 2011 11:46 PM, PDT | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

Shameless sent him to the States – but now Paul Abbott is back with Exile. On set, Amy Raphael hears about Alzheimer's, how to get an all-star cast, and where British TV should head next

When Paul Abbott was in his early 20s, he would regularly do a 10-hour day as a scriptwriter on Coronation Street, spend 90 minutes driving home, and then visit his grandmother. She was in a nursing home and suffering from Alzheimer's; he was, by his own admission, exhausted and bored. "I used to lay different objects down in front of her and see how many sentences I could get out of her. The smell of lavender, for example, would stimulate an anecdote. I wanted to see if something like a clothes peg would force her to make sense. Otherwise our conversations were dominated by her random amnesia."

Abbott is playful, but not without compassion – this we know, »

- Amy Raphael

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