In 2006, one of the best British films ever was released. This is England was (and remains to this day) a timeless drama depicting young boy Shaun being indoctrinated into a culture of skinheads in the early 1980s. Its drama was striking and its performances were nothing short of excellent. Last year, This is England ’86 picked up the drama three years later and was nothing short of a masterpiece in television. It moved away from the racial subject of the film and instead focused on the difficult lives of the characters.
Yet again, we see a subtle change of focus in the new series; Lol (Vicky McClure) is now a mother trying to deal with the past that keeps coming back to haunt her, Woody (Joseph Gilgun) has become an outcast from the group he was once the leader of and Shaun (Thomas Turgoose) questions his relationship with Smell (Rosamund Hanson).
The thing with This is England is that whilst the first episode might have very little in terms of actual plot it hardly matters. The characters areso well realised that it is impossible not to be drawn into their world. I think this may be why the fantastic actors in it aren’t really in many other shows/films, it’s so hard to think of them as anything else.
The drama is nothing short of transcendent. Every single word of every single phrase is written and performed with such precision that it just feels right. The awkward conversations between friends who haven’t spoken in a long time, the questions between friends who know there is something wrong but won’t tell one another, they are simply perfect. Even though no single catastrophic event (such as the infamous scene in the film) has happened yet, there is an inbuilt anticipation, the viewers know something is going to happen and it is very hard to establish what yet, but there is a feeling that everything will fall together. I can guarantee you – despite having only seen the first two – that this three part series is one to watch and will be one to treasure.
This is England ’88 is on 4od and on Channel 4 tonight at 10 PM