2010 saw the return of Shane Meadows and his gang of northern kids in the Channel 4 drama, This Is England ’86. With help in the writing department from Jack Thorne (Skins), the three part mini-series portrayed a dichotomy of kids just trying to have fun in the ongoing storyline of the working class rebels and the more serious elements of life that they are forced to contend with.
Set three years after the drama of the 2006 film, This is England ’86 follows the same Grimsby kids through the smooth and the rough of the 1986 Mexico World Cup. Broken up into 4 one hour episodes the drama mini-series aired in September 2010 on Channel 4, taking Meadows and the cast of the film from the big screen release of the original movie to the small screen showing of its follow up.
While there are plenty of us that probably don’t really remember the Mexico ’86 World Cup too well – 1990 is the one that grabbed our attention – everyone will be aware of is the sense of injustice that overshadowed England’s run at that year. Diego Maradona’s “hand of god” and his lightning dribble finished us off in the end of the quarter finals and suddenly England had a new arch nemesis to add to the might of Germany. It’s this historical backdrop that the short series sets itself in.
It was hard to see from the trailer below what the series would be about other than football and parties, but with Shane Meadows directing once again after the 2006 Bafta-winner, and the same cast as before, This Is England ’86 turned out to be much more than beer and hand balls. The footballing themes of injustice and enduring rivalry are mirrored in the storyline of the drama series.
The complex relationships and lives of the gang are picked up once again by meadows as he introduces the reluctance to grow up, fidelity, betrayal and sexual abuse into the storyline.
The original cast members return with Thomas Thurgoose as Shaun, Vicky McClure as Lol, Joe Gilgun as Woody, Andrew Shim as Milky, Danielle Watson as Trev, Chanel Cresswell as Kelly Jenkins and Rosamund Hanson as Smell. Stephen Graham (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy 2011) returns as Combo, but this time he’s a little less on on the villainous side, while there’s also a number of new faces including Johnny Harris as Lol’s sadistic father Mick and Perry Fitzpatrick as the deranged moped freak, Flip.
For anyone that missed This is England ’86 when it first aired, it was released on DVD on the 11th October 2010 with a subsequent release on Blu-ray on the 14th March 2011. It was also released on DVD and Blu-ray as a combination with its follow-up, This Is England ’88, on the 12th March 2012.