I recently moved to Birmingham, where this series was filmed so watching it over the course of several evenings was great fun - specially when I spotted a location at the end of my street. Years ahead of its time, the series span off a Play for Today. The Play for Today, which opens the DVD set, is a gritty drama concerning the Birmingham underworld and the attempts by ex con John Kline to cash in his business interests and leave the 'second city' for new ventures in London. The series spins out the attempts by criminal interests to dispose of Kline, once and for all. Various deals and betrayals take place, with alliances shifting all the time. One aspect may be controversial to the politically correct. There's several scenes set in a nightclub, with comedians telling racist jokes. This is not gratuitous, in the way that, say, a Tarantino film using the N word is. It challenges the viewer to consider their response - do you laugh? If so, at what? The joke itself, or the racist ideologies underlining it? The situation is complicated by one of the comedians, and several members of the audience, being black or Asian. The series highlights how the Black and Asian gangster bosses have taken on the subject positions, the positions of power, of their white counterparts. The programme plays with racial stereotyping in a reflexive way, a way which brings about an awareness in the audience. This is done through excessive acting, costume and also the title sequence of the second series, which references martial arts and Bond films. The series becomes increasingly abstract and self referential and put me in mind of The Prisoner at its conclusion. The writer, Philip Martin, props up in several cameos including the bizarre 'white devil.' I d be interested to read other peoples comments on this series which I can highly recommend. Forget Life On Mars, this is the real thing.
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