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The Lakes (Series 1 and Series 2)

superb, critically acclaimed TV series

excellent actor from the "new" actor to watch, John Simm

The Lakes (Series 1) with John Simm and Emma Cunliffe

Danny Kavanagh moves from Liverpool's dole queues to work in a Lake District hotel and finds that it's not just the scenery that is pretty and available. When he falls in love and has to marry he still thinks that things could be worse. A tragedy, however, sees Danny as a scapegoat. Written by Jimmy McGovern. The Lakes brought writer Jimmy McGovern and actor John Simm a great deal of critical praise in 1997. Following a particularly dry period for British TV drama, the show's realistic characterisations and their painfully honest decisions hit audiences hard. Simm is a twenty-something trapped in a life of compulsive gambling, theft and being on the dole in Liverpool. On a whim he heads north to the Lake District. He expects to find the countryside quietude where his hidden poetical leanings might find a home, but instead gets caught up in a community like any other. Lies, temptation and tragedy beset every household just as much as the big city.
The focus of Series 1 is Danny's relationship with Emma (Emma Cunliffe) and the consequences of having a child. As time races by, his link to the Lakes becomes an exercise in torment when the eyes of blame fall easily upon him after the accidental deaths of four schoolgirls. Stoking the flames of a series of secondary explosions in waiting are a pair of affairs, one adulterous, the other complicated by religion.

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As good if not better than the first series

The Lakes (Series 2) with John Simm, Emma Cunliffe et al

The second series of Jimmy McGovern's dark and controversial drama of rural community life. In the second series, far longer than the first, an exploration of Danny's tortured soul might have been the obvious continuation to the story; instead an almost Hitchcockian murder scenario occupies far more screen time. But by stretching things out, this second series does not have the same self-contained impact of the original. Additional writers only served to drag out Danny's boy-to-man journey. Ultimately, lessons are learned, including the realistic conclusion that life is without a poetical status quo. Despite the tail-off in overall quality, you'd be hard pressed to identify a better British drama in the years since.

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