I can't wait for This Is England '86 to start tonight. This Is England is one of my favourite films from the last few years and when I heard that Channel 4 had persuaded Shane Meadows, and others, to try taking the characters to the small screen I began anticipating something brilliant. The format is four hour-long episodes over four weeks rather than a traditional series of six or more episodes which is perfect because there's much more time to develop the characters and plot.
The story picks up roughly where the film left off, albeit we're in 1986 now rather than 1983, with the World Cup in Mexico as the backdrop. The gang are still knocking around together on the same estate, although Combo doesn't appear until later in the series, and the early episodes focus on Woody and Lol's wedding with Lol being the lead character rather than Thomas Turgoose's Shaun, who is sitting his exams and about to leave school.
The newspapers and blogosphere reports that there are some pretty harrowing moments during the series that even Meadows has said were "some of the most challenging scenes of his career" so I'm expecting it, in parts, to be as heartfelt and as brutal as the film but isn't that what makes a great television drama? Channel 4 should be applauded for going back to their roots and doing something brave and challenging, it'll certainly be more thought provoking than Big Brother.