Our Friends in the North: Complete Series DVD
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Directed by Simon Cellan Jones, Pedr James
Produced in 1996
Main Language - English
Countries & Regions - British Film
In 1982, producer Michael Wearing approached playwright Peter Flannery with a view to adapting Flannery’s epic play Our Friends in the North for the BBC. The resulting project took well over a decade to reach the screen - the 14-year hiatus is a story of legal tussles, artistic differences and political manoeuvring worthy of an epic play itself - but the results were worth the wait. The nine-episode serial broadcast in early 1996 was to become - and remains - perhaps the finest example of accessible socio-political drama in the history of British television.
Charting 31 years in the lives of four friends from Newcastle - Nicky (Christopher Eccleston), Mary (Gina McKee), Geordie (Daniel Craig) and Tosker (Mark Strong) - from their unsteady but fiery steps into adulthood to their rueful, conciliatory middle age, Our Friends balances compelling human drama with a penetrating chronicle of the breakdown of the post-war consensus. To varying degrees, all the friends are affected by events and crises that shape the changing political landscape: local government malpractice, Metropolitan police corruption, the Miners’ Strike, the Stock Market crash. Along the way, Nicky struggles with a dying vision of a socialist Britain, while Tosker begins to reap the rewards of laissez-faire Thatcherism.
But this is much more than a contrast of left- and right-wing agendas. Our Friends brilliantly captures each of its years of focus - 1964, 1966, 1967, 1970, 1974, 1979, 1984, 1987 and 1995 - with an attention to detail in mood, dialogue and design that is usually reserved for the big screen. Most potent today, though, is its political prescience. As the naively idealistic Nicky clashes with his embittered father (an excellent Peter Vaughan) over the promises of a modernised Labour Party, only to witness them drain away, it is difficult now not to see unnerving parallels with the legacy of Tony Blair’s New Labour - a concept in its infancy when the drama first aired.
It’s unlikely that the BBC, much less any other broadcaster, would attempt a project like Our Friends in the North today; that they did so in 1996 was surprising enough. We should therefore cherish it: it is the closest thing Britain has to Heimat.
Julian Upton on 26th August 2010
Author of 150 reviews
The BAFTA-winning drama (for Best Drama Serial and Best Actress - Gina McKee), Our Friends in the North was perhaps the most ambitious drama on British TV in the 90s - and certainly one of the most compelling. An overtly political view of British social history in the second half of the 20th century, played out through the contrasting fortunes of four Geordie friends.
Christopher Eccleston, Mark Strong, Gina McKee and Daniel Craig star in this epic nine part series following the lives of four friends from Newcastle across four decades from 1963 to 1995.
Newcastle, 1963. Nicky (Christopher Eccleston) returns from America where he has been involved in the Civil Rights movement. His political dreams and ambitions threaten to part him from Mary (Gina McKee), the woman he loves. Nicky’s devotion to the Labour cause drives Mary into the arms of their friend Tosker (Mark Strong), while a fourth friend, Geordie (Daniel Craig), gets his girlfriend pregnant and heads down to London. Throughout the decades, against the background of an ever-changing Britain, the lives of these four very different friends will become progressively more entangled. The forces shaping the nation are also changing and shaping them, devastating lives, tearing couples apart and challenging the boundries of even the firmest friendships…
Winner of many awards, including BAFTAs Our Friends In The North is a powerful and unforgettable drama and one of the great television milestones of the 1990s.
Publisher: Simply Media
Length: 623 mins
Cat No: 132331
Format: DVD Colour
- 3 discs