Archive for June 14th, 2018

by Adam Ferenz

This epic of northern English life, set between 1964 and 1995, focuses on the lives, loves and losses of a group of four friends as they experience the shifting tides of late twentieth century existence. While the cast is outstanding, each part perfectly matched with the correct actor, the scripts and direction are what will keep you coming back, for the characters are so well defined that once it is over, a viewer may well feel they have been forced to say goodbye to family.

British television has always excelled at the epic, short form serial. Examples, among others include Jewel in the Crown, The Forsyte Saga, Brideshead Revisited, GBH, and I, Claudius and while there have been others, before and since, few have ever had the cast, the vision, and the scope, of Our Friends in the North. In this cast were a young Gina McKee, Mark Strong, Christopher Eccleston and Daniel Craig. They were joined by Peter Vaughn, Malcolm McDowell, Alun Armstrong and David Bradley, among many others. Simon Cellan Jones, Pedr James and Stuart Urban provided the concise direction, while Peter Flannery delivered nine nearly perfect, thought provoking and absorbing scripts.

These are not characters you will always be rooting for, because each of them are nearly tragically flawed, perhaps none more so than Craig’s George Peacock, who goes from aspiring musician, to low level gangster to something else entirely, something this author will not spoil for those who have not seen it. Indeed, while there are elements of soap-Eccleston’s Nicky loses McKee’s Mary to Strong’s Terry in a rather sudden and stupid manner, which then begins decades of near misses-the series is largely focused on how the events of their lives and the decisions they make affect not only each individual but their families, and how the changing tides of social and political upheaval affect the decisions they make. Nicky,  for instance, becomes a journalist, while Mary eventually finds herself entering politics and Terry never quite keeps any of his many business ventures afloat long enough to feel secure. (more…)

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