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"1990" Non-Citizen (1977)

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When a man ceases to exist

Author: ShadeGrenade from Ambrosia
15 October 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Wilfred Greatorex's '1990' was a dull, preachy B.B.C.-2 drama series that starred Edward Woodward and was set in Britain's totalitarian future. Towards the end of Season 1, however, a remarkable thing happened. The corpse started showing signs of life.

'Witness' tied up a sub-plot begun in the opening episodes concerning a doctor, Alan Vickers ( Donald Gee ), who wishes to take up a new job in Arizona, only to be refused an Exit Visa by the P.C.D. ( Public Control Department ). Desperate, he became an illegal emigrant, leaving his wife and asthmatic daughter behind. Vickers agrees to return to Britain to testify at Jim Kyle's trial, only to then ingeniously turn the tables on the P.C.D. ( he'd secretly become an American citizen ). The episode had more plot than the others put together.

The final story sees Kyle stripped of his right to be a Citizen; his credit card is revoked, as are his Identity Card, Union card ( making it impossible for him to work ), his bank assets are frozen, and he is evicted from his home. Destitute, he is forced to throw in his lot with some vagrants, one of whom is played by the late Edward Judd. Woodward gets a chance to do some real acting, as opposed to merely wandering about smart offices in a sheepskin coat. With I.D. cards having been in the news for some time now, it is interesting to see just how '70's television treated the idea - with undisguised hostility. I share the sentiment, and am glad that it has been ruled out by the present Government - for the time being anyway.

Barbara Kellermann makes her final appearance as 'Delly Lomas', the P.C.D.'s Deputy Controller. I am not surprised she decided not to come back; the show gave her little to do other than look haughty. Kyle did not even get her into bed! Her replacement, the Australian actress Lisa Harrow ( as 'Lynn Blake' ) seemed more at ease than her predecessor.

With the help of his mysterious contact 'Faceless' ( Paul Hardwick ), Kyle gains access to some new 'Privilege' Cards, copies them, and brings about such chaos in the system that he is able to force the P.C.D. to restore his citizenship. This personal victory ended the depressing first series on an upbeat note.

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