Saturday, March 25, 2006

Nosotros amigos en el norte

Last night, the Dr finished watched the last of Our Friends In The North, which she'd not ever seen. This time 10 years ago, she might have been at a proper red-brick university, but my scabby ex-poly at least had televisions.

The nine-part series follows four friends over 31 years, each hour-and-a-bit episode set in just one year. The story covers the corruption of the Metropolitain police, the self-destruction of the Labour party, sex, drugs, violence, sex, pub bands and shagging.

It's odd to see James Bond, Dr Who, the Queen of Shadows and the one good thing in Revolver all in one place, like some special Marvel/DC universe cross-over. The performances are all very striking, and the leads especially show no fear at uglying themselves up - though Eccleston's hairpieces are a tad distracting. I'd also not realised watching it originally what sods the characters are pretty much all of the time.

The Dr was less excited by the last three episodes, set in the 80s and 90s, which she felt lost the anger and power of the first six. I still found Peter Vaughn's brilliant, awful descent into Alzhiemer's mortifying, - it's really just awful to watch. The Dr also found the whole thing too worthy and hard-going, and we put on an episode of the Muppet Show afterwards to cheer her up. I will speak of Muppets another time, but it is clearly the greatest TV show ever made.

OFitN does have flashes of wit and levity - some of them genuinely brilliant - but they're rather well-spaced apart. This is probably the point; there's a sentiment in the final episode about making a stand against life continually pulling you down. It seems the last gap of the angry, working-class writing so prevalent in "serious" telly of the past.

At the same time, it does have important things to say about the complex inter-linkings of people and politics, and how history is shaped and affects us. And I wonder what Nicky, Mary, Tosker and Geordie are up to now...

Up at six this morning for getting to Invasion on time - my first convention as a proper, named guest. Right at the bottom of the bill, of course, but got to see lots of good chums and had a lovely lunch with Richard Briers. He made us laugh a lot telling stories about drunk actors he'd known.

Also met Alan Ruscoe, who played monsters in both Droo and Star Wars, and also a small role in The Settling. He said nice things about the few pages of script he'd seen.

The panel itself was a bit nerve-wracking (never been keen on having to speak in front of people), and I'm glad I had colleagues with me. Think I survived the thing by just not shutting up. We announced the titles and authors of the year's forthcoming Benny plays, and discussed how New Show has got us all thinking.

Then an hour or two's signing, which was all rather friendly. I did, though, manage to make a boob of scribbling something for Millennium Elephant and his daddies. This is because I am rubbish.

Snuck out early as have a 30th birthday bash tonight. Off now to make myself pretty.

Oh, and this is, incidentally, my 200th post. Corks.


Alex Wilcock said...

Happy 200th! You look all right on it ;-)

I have to agree on what sods Our Friends all were - the only one I ever warmed to was Geordie, and he was the one who became a gangster... I remember it being exhibit A in the worry cured, gosh, a year ago today, that Chris had been a terribly good actor in lots of things I'd seen but I'd never found him likeable in any of them.

Still, I managed to find a few trailers I'd kept from the original BBC2 showings as 'extras' for our home-made DVDs of the 2005 show, along with that Irn Bru ad with Mr Barrowman as Prince Not-Very-Charming (no, I don't know what I had that on tape, either).

Lovely to see you again at Invasion, and, awwhh, you're not at all rubbish. Besides, there was a sort of zen thing going on where you and Richard were both embarrassed by the other, which was sweet.

Anonymous said...

"Oh, and this is, incidentally, my 200th post. Corks."


Anonymous said...

The worthiness and length of OFITN has always put me off watching it - plus the trailers made the characters look less than likeable.

0tralala said...

The worthiness and length of OFITN has always put me off watching it...
Oh, I definitely recommend it, especially if you're into telly and politics and the ninth Dr Who. It is very good, just a bit hard going.

Or maybe it's hypergraphia.

Besides, there was a sort of zen thing going on...
Oh, well that's all right then. I did also meet a bloke who made a point of not-being-Derek, as my boss had once signed something to him. So at least it's not just me...