Wednesday, 25 March 2015

don't look back in anger, i hear you say

The BBC really ought to re-screen 'Our Friends in the North' what with that there election coming along.

Maybe it's too complicated, from a contractual standpoint, with so many of the then fresh faces now as big names in their own rights. Christopher Eccleston, Mark Strong, Daniel Craig and Gina McKee in the starring roles. Malcolm McDowell, David Bradley, Peter Vaughn - even Julian Fellowes as a multi-jobbed politician.

And there's the point. The storyline, which spans 1964 to 1996, tells of four main characters and their intertwined lives around Newcastle and partly London's Soho, in situations that start with a story involving inadequate and poorly built housing but which leads to corruption, sleaze, drive-by politicians, tabloid press tactics - the list goes on and on. And although it starts in 1964, the themes still seem very topical today as well as against their original backdrop of Macmillan, Douglas-Home, Wilson, Heath, Callaghan and Thatcher.

The BBC series was originally made in the 1990s, and it's interesting to look back on the older 60s parts and marvel at the access to the locations and the items needed to make it look authentic. Thirty years after the earliest events, most things required were still available, and it adds a kind of haphazard authenticity which is harder to recreate another twenty or so years on. The London scenes are similarly well painted and it's fascinating to see the action on location outside the Old Palace Yard of Parliament in a way that security has long since banned.

I've still a couple more episodes to re-watch. Right now I'm still in the power cuts of Heath's three day working week. Swan Hunter has just closed. Even by the end the rejuvenation of the Quayside won't have occurred. There's no Sage or Hilton looking down from across the river in Gateshead. Of course there's no Gateshead Millennium Bridge. The south side of the Tyne Bridge looks empty. Some things change, whilst the series shows that others remain just the same.

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