Unbelievably, it’s taken me almost exactly twelve months since watching Shane Meadows’ “This Is England ’86” to get around to viewing the third instalment in the series, 2011’s “This Is England ’88”. Set during Christmas 1988 this, naturally, made perfect viewing for a hot and sunny July afternoon!
Shaun (Thomas Turgoose – “The Hatching”, “Eden Lake”) is now at drama school but struggling for confidence, feeling that he has no talent. His relationship with Smell (Rosamund Hanson – “Switch”, “Life’s Too Short” is feeling the strain, especially when Shaun begins to get close to his Christmas play co-star Fay (Charlotte Tyree – “First Love Last Love”).
Lol (Vicky McClure – “Line Of Duty”, “Broadchurch”) is having a very hard time in life. Still haunted by the horrible events at the end of “This Is England ’86” and finding being a single mother to her daughter very demanding and tiring.
Lol’s ex Woody (Joseph Gilgun – “The Last Witch Hunter”, “The Infiltrator”, meanwhile, has a new girlfriend in Jennifer (Stacey Sampson – “Doctors”, “Holby City”) and is offered a promotion at work. As part of his rebuilding of his personal life Woody has put some distance between himself and his former friends.
It transpires that Woody was unaware of Lol’s brief affair with Milky (Andrew Shim – “Anti-Social”, “Airborne) until Lol’s daughter – the result of that affair – was born, so feelings are still very raw.
Over the course of three days (23 – 25 December) events unfold that leave Shaun devastated but also sees a reunion of sorts for Woody and Lol…
I have mentioned previously that watching this series is a case of “following these characters on a journey – taking in adolescence, sexuality, bullying, dysfunctional families and friendships – through part of their lives that was portrayed with a sense of realism that made this a fantastic viewing experience” and that remains true of “…’88” but in this instance it is the characters played by Gilgun and McClure that really take centre stage and the performances of both are persuasive and moving. Another excellent chapter in the story…