Being holed up in hospital has few advantages, but the opportunity to re visit some classic TV drama serials via box sets got me thinking. These are my top 15. Boardwalk Empire has potential, but I have only included completed runs.
01)The Sopranos.…. Nothing consistently touches this examination of the human condition, and what motivates our morality and us. Every scene, every piece of dialogue in all 82 episodes is made to count. Season Six’s “The Second Coming” is the only time you will see the issue of suicide tackled in a totally honest way
02)Boys From The Blackstuff…. Alan Bleasdale captures, through the real lives of his characters in 1980’s Liverpool that Neil Kinnock was right when he said about Thatcherism; “Poverty is the worst form of violence“. Memorable for Yosser Hughes’ exhortation, “Gizza job!” But the saddest, blackly comical exchange takes place in the confessional; “I’m desperate, Father”. Priest: “Call me Dan”. Yosser: “I’m desperate, Dan”.
03)Edge of Darkness… Absolutely brilliant condemnation of the nuclear industry and the culture of cover up worked into a chilling thriller.
04. Secret Army….. Darkly atmospheric story of a group of Belgians smuggling downed Allied airmen against the most appalling dangers.
05. Cracker…. Jimmy McGovern’s criminal psychologist Fitz (Robbie Coltrane) tells it how it is in 1990’s Post Thatcher Britain. I loved it at the time, and am enjoying its ITV3 re run. “To be a Somebody” (about Hillsborough) is its best story.
06. Our Friends in the North…. Again another personal favourite proving you can do politics and entertainment as we follow four friends through the trails and tribulations of post war Britain.
07. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy…. A brilliant capturing of the flavour of the hidden world of the Cold War that affected us all by default. 2011 film is a bit disappointing for me.
08. I, Claudius…. Roman based drama about which Brian Blessed recently said that once the actors played it like a Mafia drama, they never looked back. Read the book first and the TV drama is more shocking. Revolutionary for it’s time (1976).
09. Das Boot… It is a brilliant condemnation of war whilst showing us Brits that we don’t have the monopoly of suffering. You can watch the whole thing on YouTube.
10. Hill Street Blues…. Was repeated in my second year at University and was THE must see TV in our student house. US cop drama at it’s best.
11 Doctor Who….. Anyone who doesn’t love this, especially since it’s 2005 return, needs locking up.
12 The Singing Detective… Denis Potter’s Masterpiece, and why he was consistently the greatest UK TV writer of the 20th Century
13 Auf Wiedersehen Pet… Comradeship amongst the Thatcherite wreckage. Great scripts, great gags and great actors. Everything for the perfect comedy.
14Talking Heads….. Alan Bennett’s monologues for which the word “Pathos” might well have been invented.
15Band of Brothers……. The end of the WW2 from Normandy to Berlin through the eyes of the ordinary US foot soldiers. The episode where they liberate a Death Camp should be compulsory viewing in Schools.