Boys from the Blackstuff DVD

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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. On the DVD: Boys from the Blackstuff is presented in standard 4:3 TV format with a mono soundtrack that often suffers from a muffled quality. There's only one additional feature, but it's a treasure: The Blackstuff, Alan Bleasdale's original 90-minute play, is presented as a prelude to the series with the bonus of an insightful commentary from the author and the director, Jim Goddard. --Piers Ford [show more]

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Released
26 May 2003
Directors
Actors
Format
DVD 
Publisher
BBC 
Classification
Runtime
306 minutes 
Features
PAL 
Barcode
5014503117825 
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All five episodes of Alan Bleasdale's gritty Eighties drama. 'Jobs for the Boys', tells the story of an unofficial building gang being watched by the Department of Employment. Their raid ends in tragedy. In 'Moonlighter', Dixie uncovers things he does not want to know about while he is working illegally at the docks, and his wife is frightened of opening the door because of the Department of Employment. In 'Shop Thy Neighbour', Chrissie has his dole stopped after the moonlighting affair, and times become harder and harder. 'Yosser's Story' features Yosser's struggle to find work and retain custody of his three children, set against his slide into depression and instability. And finally, in 'George's Last Ride' George, the one character left unbroken by adversity, dies, but his legacy is discovered by Chrissie.

Please note this is a region 2 DVD and will require a region 2 (Europe) or region Free DVD Player in order to play. Alan Bleasdale's hugely acclaimed series echoes the misery and despair of long-term unemployment. Set in Liverpool, these profoundly moving human dramas follow in turn the attempts of five working-class heroes to survive. Running Time: 306 minutes + 110 minutes approx. 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.

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