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In 1970's England, cultures start to mix and cross with different experiences. Archie is contemplating suicide until he meets Clara, who is fleeing an oppressive Jehovah's Witness mother. Meanwhile Samad has arrived in England to meet with his old war-friend Archie and to complete his arranged marriage. The two couples have different experiences of multi-cultural Britain and this differs from their children as the story follows the two generations across the years. Written by
Did the whole of your life flash before your eyes, like dey say, Archie?
It did, yeah. Thing is, I wasn't really in it.
You a good man, Archie. Not excitin' - but good. I glad you don kill yourself.
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Plenty of energy but parts one and four don't work as well as they should
In 1960's England, cultures start to mix and cross with different experiences. Archie is contemplating suicide until he meets Clara, who is fleeing an oppressive Jehovah's Witness mother. Meanwhile Samad has arrived in England to meet with his old war-friend Archie and to complete his arranged marriage. The two couples have different experiences of multi-cultural Britain and this differs from their children as the story follows the two generations across the years.
I have never read the book and probably won't bother, but I have seen all four episodes oft his miniseries that adapted it for the screen. The plot sees us follow the two multicultural families from the moment the parents meet and marry in the sixties through the main stages of their children's lives. It's a little difficult to put a finger on one narrative strand running through the series as it manages to be both a very simplified version of 30 years of time and a bundle of energy with little direction or focus.
The programme was strongest when focusing on the Asian father and the white father. They were the focus of the first two episodes. However the final two shows were also good character wise as I was very interested in the conflicting characters of the shy mixed race daughter Irie and the very urban/western son Millat. The central theme of race and the multicultural experience in Britain is layered through at all times but is not used well at all times, instead it is merely a backdrop and the series didn't seem to make any points that weren't obvious. For example the fact that Archie (traditional England) finds rejuvenation and new life in Samad and Clara (new England) is obvious but not forced in your face. I had a problem with the free flowing nature of the first three shows - or rather a problem with the way this was lost in the final show. The fourth part brought everything neatly together in a series of events that were implausible and felt like the series had suddenly realised that it needed a firm `plot' to finish with. I preferred the first three parts that were more about the characters than events or plot.
The acting is quite good. Om Puri powers over everyone as Samad and is well used. He brings out his mixed emotions towards the west well and is a man in conflict with all he knows around him. Phil Daniels is a little unmemorable but in the first show is good. In his marriage he turns into a quiet little man behind his Jamaican wife so that explains why he is like that, he is necessarily understated. Newcomer Harris is not used well in later parts but is excellent as Clara in parts one and two. Panjabi (Goodness Gracious Me) is average as Alsana, only really shining in the final part when she is given more of a role. The problem with her is that she doesn't seem to age as well as those around her. Simpson is good in dual roles and it's not his fault that the characters are forced so obviously to extremes.
I enjoyed the series despite the fact I found the fourth part to be less enjoyable because it suddenly seemed to feel like it needed `a plot' to get by. The only other thing I disliked about it was the `trainspotting' feel that is given to too many of channel 4's drama series. What I mean is the overuse of music in an attempt to make it cool and fell like it's brimming with energy. This was particularly evident in part one which was wallpapered with music from the period. The music is cool but it just started to feel like a gimmick rather than a soundtrack - happily this was toned down for later parts.
Overall the series is well worth checking out. I don't know what those who have read the book thought of it but I enjoyed it. The main characters are well brought out despite the fact that it doesn't quite feel like a tapestry
more that bits of each part are given over to each character. May not
as brought in as many viewers as channel 4 had hoped given the £35 million budget, but it is still a really good mini-series.
5 of 7 people found this review helpful.
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