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From The Socialist newspaper, 23 September 2015

TV Review

This is England '90

Rudi Abdallah, Waltham Forest Socialist Party, reviews the first episode of This is England '90.

Shane Meadows has produced the final instalment of the riveting drama spin-off from 2006's big screen hit This is England. The euphoria coursing through this episode is epitomised by a heady mix of drugs, friendship, political upheaval and music, especially the Stone Roses.


It's the most optimistic offering of the three mini-series. 2010's This is England '86 kept exploring its big screen cousin's harrowing themes. It showed disaffected kids in a monochrome, hope-starved world of a northern, working-class town. This segued into 2011's equally bleak This is England '88, which saw the gang torn apart by treachery and depression.

Now, the scooter boys and skinheads of the previous two series have morphed into (Stone Roses singer) Ian Brown clones clad in baggy regalia and technicolour tops that could give you tinnitus.

Clips of a swaggering Shaun Ryder sit comfortably next to the anti-poll tax riots, embodying perfectly the sense that young people felt empowered, in part by music, to break the Thatcherite shackles of the previous eleven years.

The acting is still impeccable. The impressive Lol (Vicky McClure) jokes alongside fellow dinner lady Kelly (Chanel Cresswell); Gadget (Andrew Ellis) is the same endearing scruff-bag thinking only of his belly ('everybody loves chips!').

Woody (Joe Gilgun), is more relaxed than ever. Only Shaun (Thomas Turgoose) drifts unhappily, making him a lone dark cloud in an otherwise opal sky.

Meadows is a master of conveying mood. The unfamiliar optimism of his new world stems from wider political change, notably Margaret Thatcher's political demise in 1990. Even though the Conservatives retained power until 1997, Meadows wants to show that Thatcher's departure caused a volcanic eruption of joy across northern working-class communities, which sang of new opportunities.

Thatcher resigns

When the gang dance deliriously to 'Fool's Gold' at the Madchester disco, the music opens up a world they feel they can own, whatever it throws at them.

As in 1990, we now have a Conservative government. Seismic political change has occurred which has energised young people, mainly those on the left. Unlike 1990, there is no evident musical movement absorbing and articulating the fountain of hope.

The episode's success lies primarily in the evergreen attraction of rebelling against the establishment. This includes aggravating your parents with a love of long-haired frontmen, drug taking and, most importantly, jumping about to some of the greatest music ever written with your friends.

Thanks to the consistently phenomenal acting, these attractions are presented in a completely natural and sympathetic way.

The three remaining episodes of This is England '90 are shown on Channel 4 at 9pm on Sunday 20 and 27 September and 4 October

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In The Socialist 23 September 2015:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Corbyn under fire .... Organise to fight cuts!

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Refugees brutalised by thug EU governments

Liverpool's Labour mayor took pay for job he no longer did

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Them & Us

What we saw

Socialist Party feature

Fight for a real living wage for all!

International socialist news and analysis

Greece: Widespread abstention dominates election

Australia: Turnbull deposes Abbot to become PM

International news in brief

Workplace news and analysis

TUC debates action to defeat anti-trade union bill

Nominate Roger Bannister for Unison general secretary

Traffic wardens strike for better pay

Workplace news in brief

Socialist Party review

TV review: This is England '90

Socialist history

1985: police murder sparks Brixton riot

Socialist Party youth and students

Organise the student fightback!

Good response to Nottingham Socialist Students

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

London protesters demand affordable housing

Socialism back on the agenda in Wolverhampton

Tower Hamlets housing campaign lobbies council

North Kent TUSC meeting


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