Premiering 24 September 2002, River City is the first British soap based in Scotland for quite a while. The show is set around Montego Street, in the fictitious Glasgow district of Sheildinch. Within this, there are a flux of principal characters, many of whom operate shops or businesses within Montego Street and the action focuses on them, their families and associates.
The opening episode showed promise, with the wedding of Tommy Donachie (Eric Barlow) to Eileen (Deirdre Davis), with Eileen's bitter ex-husband, Raymond (Paul Samson), looking on, vowing vengeance showed potential. Sadly, it was let down by some slightly poor scripting. Two and half years later "River City" his hit it's stride and in Scotland it's now more popular than the similar, London-based "Eastenders".
The recent revamp of the theme tune has helped. It now has a hard Celtic beat to it that resonates with many of the urban Scottish themes now explored within the show.
There have been some terrific entertaining story lines particularly over the last year or so, with drug addiction, obsession, rape and child abuse giving episodes an often powerful dramatic weight. With the double act of brassy Roisin (Joyce Falconer) and hapless Raymond (Paul Samson), there's been a fair share of comedy as well.
Tam Dean Burn is excellent as the creepy homosexual Godfather of Shieldinch. He has recently left the show for a bit, but here's hoping we haven't seen the last of him. Sally Howitt is on fine form as the steely, sexy Scarlett and Gray O'Brien isn't too bad as gambling, womanizing Billy Davies.
It was a mistake to get rid of Lewis Cope (Duncan Duff) just when he was getting interesting, but his recent return was a masterstroke and he's now back to his scheming, villainous best. Also of note are Carmen Pieraccini as the sassy Kelly-Marie, Jade Lezar as Roisin's wayward daughter Alanna, Gilly Gilchrist's womanizing lawyer Archie Buchanan and Carter Ferguson as charming bobby-on-the-beat Harry Black. In addition former "Deacon Blue" singer Lorraine MacIntosh is also very good as recovering alcoholic Alice.
"River City" has come a very long way since it's 2002 premiere, and things can only improve from here.
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