We have to pay our TV license fees or go to jail. And I happen to think that the license fee is a tiresome bother to pay, especially as I rarely watch BBC 1 or BBC 2 (I do watch BBC 3 and BBC 4 and listen to Radio 2 and Radio 4 so I suppose I can’t really bitch about it). For our hard earned money, we deserve some mighty good entertainment and thankfully, the BBC has delivered the goods over the years.
The series that I discuss in this article were mainly created before the boom in satellite television channels and our options were limited to watching hours of Pages From Ceefax (RIP) and the test card girl or watching what was going on Auntie Beeb in the evenings. Classic drama was produced in this fashion and the BBC earned their worth.
I’m not sure if the BBC still produce quality drama. If they do, please inform me below.
6. Boys From The Black Stuff (1982)
From the pen of Alan Bleasdale, Boys From the Black Stuff is set in Bleasdale’s native Liverpool and follows the struggles of five men who become unemployed – each man has his own episode. The series was praised by many for its gritty social realism and accurate portrayal of the high unemployment rate at the time.
The most fondly remembered part of Boys From the Black Stuff deals with the plight of Yosser Hughes. It tackles the loss of his job, his wife, the authorities’ constant attempts to take his children away from him. Yosser becomes half demented by these traumas and they deliver a real blow to his masculinity. Yosser’s catchphrase “Gizza job” became part of the 1980s zeitgeist when unemployment figures were stuck at shockingly high levels.
Unapologetically using Scouse lingo as the five men live out their dramas, this dialect made Boys From the Blackstuff an authentic snapshot of Britain in the early 1980s. The episode featuring Yosser’s struggles is nearly like a male version of Cathy Come Home (directed by Ken ‘King of Misery’ Loach). The series is desperately poignant and bitter to swallow at times. It helped to inflate the career of Julie Walter. A perfect shot in time of Thatcher’s Britain.
This article was first posted on July 15, 2013