Got to be one of the best program drama's on TV ever. Remember Yosser Hughes!
"Gis a job!"
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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 sympathy.
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 unextinguished.
The blackstuff--the tarmac--of the title becomes increasingly ironic. There is none. The boys have no work. The dole office scenes have a grimly nostalgic, documentary quality. Each second drips another droplet of disillusionment on people whose expectations are crushed by every effort to haul themselves up. Thatcher's Britain was a cruel place for many people. The unspoken question that hangs in the air after watching Bleasdale's poetic dissection of ruined lives is, have things really changed that much? Television drama doesn't come any more powerful or honest than this.