If I cast a bit of a personal eye over all the TV drama series I’ve seen since I can really remember, I can only come up with four to which I would unreservedly give Five Stars in my personal list of “Really Great Programmes”.
The most recent is “The West Wing”, which has just played out its final episode, and I still have it recorded to watch. When I’ve seen it, I am sure fingers will be put to keyboard to record what’s so good about it – all 7 years and 156 episodes!
The one previous to that was “This Life”, a fly on the wall style of drama centred on 6 lawyer types and their friends and work colleagues, which caught brilliantly the pace, pressure, tensions and way of life of them all. Jack Davenport and Daniella Nardini, who showed very graphically and frantically in one episode why Canon needed to strengthen the glass plattens of their Photocopiers, head a cast which has become much more well known, since it came out in 1992. Hand held camera techniques, good acting, true to life issues and a really cracking script, pushed it along at a tremendous pace. It was an truly authentic taste of early 90s angst and pressure among the upwardly mobile 25 year olds.
The last two were broadcast in the Eighties – the first being “Edge of Darkness” (1985), a top class thriller which addressed the interaction of the increasing power of global high-tech companies and governments, the police and addressing the long term issues surrounding the ethics of nuclear power and waste disposal. Great cast, great screenplay, the best music soundtrack I’ve ever heard (played very evocatively by Eric Clapton), and a really spooky atmosphere throughout the 6 episodes.
At the time in 1987, you might be forgiven for not knowing quite who the main members of the cast were, but time has changed that a bit. The lead singer of the Band was one, Robbie Coltrane, his girlfriend was Emma Thompson, and the group’s Manager was a very Victor Meldrew-like Richard Wilson.
I’ve written in the past to the BBC, gently imploring them to release this on a DVD, but, in true Public Servant style, they are still composing their reply. The reason this scribble appears today is that John Byrne, the author, has just finished a Musical of the series, which debuts in Aberdeen next week. Rumours, unsubstantiated at present, (but as they say, we’re on the case) are that the problems which have prevented this truly excellent series from being made available to a whole new generation who will enjoy it immensely, have been finally resolved. Hopefully, 2007 will see this masterpiece issued onto a very deserving public.
In the meantime, my precious video copy of two episodes of it is sitting in the player, and I’m just off to live a couple of magical hours with the Majestics.
Rock on, Tommy!