"Thatcher's Britain was a cruel place for many people"
"Television drama doesn't come any more powerful or
honest than this"
Boys from the Blackstuff
All five of Alan Bleasdale's acclaimed series of
Alan Bleasdale's Boys from the Blackstuff gripped
television audiences in 1982 with its bleak, fiercely funny exploration of
the effect of the UK's economic depression on a group of Merseyside
characters, originally introduced in his 1978 play, The Blackstuff.
Bleasdale's writing is unsparing in both its pain and its unconditional
affection for characters being pushed to the very limit of civilisation.
Yosser Hughes (the outstanding Bernard Hill) is still, and rightly,
recognised as one of the great creations of modern television drama: a man
on the brink of madness, unlikeable, ostracised, digging a deeper hole
with every desperate act, but ultimately a human being deserving our
The performances are wonderful throughout: particularly Peter Kerrigan
as Malone, the once giant union leader reduced to a shadow but still with
the spark that commands love and respect; Michael Angelis as Chrissie and,
in a typically sharp cameo, Julie Walters as his wife. "My dreams still
give me hope and faith in my class. I can't believe there's no hope," says
Chrissie towards the end. And it's testament to Bleasdale's skill and the
resilience of his characters that somehow, that flicker of hope remains
On the DVD: Boys from the Blackstuff is presented in
standard 4:3 TV format with a mono soundtrack that often suffers from a
muffled quality. There's only one additional feature, but it's a treasure:
The Blackstuff, Alan Bleasdale's original 90-minute play, is
presented as a prelude to the series with the bonus of an insightful
commentary from the author and the director, Jim Goddard.
"The unspoken question that hangs in the air after watching
Bleasdale's poetic dissection of ruined lives is, have things really
changed that much"?
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