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*** Series one only ***
The BBC are capable of producing some brilliant series, and I'd like to say that this is no exception. However, there are certain aspects that make this simply a good series. Of course, I'm only talking here about series one, and it's quite possible that the later ones are much better. Certainly, the one episode I saw of series 3, starring Bob Hoskins, was excellent.
The premise is a great one: the first series consists of six episodes, each an hour long, and each episode is set on the same street in Manchester, but focuses on a different set of characters living there.
It addresses issues which are obviously seen to either be particularly relevant to this area of England, or are generally contemporary issues. So, one episode is about an illegal immigrant, one features a man who becomes depressed after being forced to retire, another is about a school teacher whose career is put on the line after a serious misunderstanding, and yet another focuses on domestic abuse.
While these are interesting ideas, I didn't feel that most of the episodes were pulled off quite as well as they could have been. In two of the episodes in particular, I felt that a quick 5 minute ending had been hastily tacked onto the end to create a happy ending for a story that would otherwise by no means have been resolved, which was disappointing.
The other criticism I have is that although this is supposed to be a drama series, it often came across as more of a soap opera. I found many of the situations unrealistic and the reactions of some of the characters frustratingly unconvincing. This would be fine if I had been watching a Hollywood film, for example, but I had expected more of a series whose agenda is to portray the ordinary, everyday lives of ordinary people. This is where I feel the series fails.
Having said this, the episode called 'Stan', which, as I mentioned, centres on a man forced into retirement, did seem convincing, and was characterised very well. This was the one episode where the characters seemed capable of thinking in shades of grey, rather than everything being clearly black and white, and I thoroughly enjoyed it as a result.
In fact, Jim Broadbent, who plays Stan, won an Emmy for 'Best Performance by an Actor' for this episode, in 2007, and the series also won 'Best Drama Series' at the BAFTAs in the same year.
I was very surprised to see four of the lead actors from Life On Mars appearing in this series, which was made in 2006, the same year as Life On Mars : Lee Ingleby, Marshall Lancaster, Liz White and Jennifer Frogatt . There were also a number of big names who appeared, including Jane Horrocks, Timothy Spall and Jim Broadbent (as previously mentioned). I certainly couldn't fault the acting in this series. It is exactly of the standard I would expect of the BBC. It's just a shame the script lets it down.
The Street is a drama series written by the acclaimed writer Jimmy McGovern which was recently shown on Monday evenings on BBC1. The series was critically acclaimed and rightly so as it was head and shoulders above most television we watch, the idea is that it contains episodes about different inhabitants of one street in Manchester, I didn't catch them all but the ones I saw included Timothy Spall as a lonely man whose wife had left to care for her mother, who developed a relationship with a fellow worker (Ruth Jones), a fantastic episode with Anna Friel as a struggling young mum trying to bring up her son, and doing anything necessary to do it.
The episode I am focussing on is the opener, which starred Bob Hoskins as Paddy the local pub owner. It was a story about principles and ideals, the pub owner had been advised by a punter (Spall) that someone was smoking in the toilets, Hoskins finds the smoker and asks him to leave, the only thing is the boy smoking is the son of the local villain and hardman who doesn't want to lose face and tells Hoskins that he and his son will return tomorrow to be served and if they aren't Paddy will take a beating.
The story then follows Paddy as he questions his ethics, should he back down or not, as he banned a fellow regular for something similar the previous week, should he stand up to the bully, should he ask for help, he doesn't back down but asks for help believing that as the pub is the fulcrum of the community and he has done so much for others they will back him, unfortunately in his time of need the only people he can rely on are his family.
Whilst we see some weak behaviour McGovern makes it clear why people won't help and many of their concerns are valid, if Paddy won't allow his own son to stand up to the villain for fear he'll get hurt why should they?
The story ends brilliantly, I won't explain how but it is a rightful ending, the whole thing has the feel of a western, its tense, builds up brilliantly and is wonderfully written with gritty real performances. I understand there may be no further series of this due to costs, this is a shame as its just brilliant, one of the best drama series to be shown on tv in years.
The thing I liked about the show and its varying episodes was that it didn't show people as one dimensional, Paddy does a brave thing but is terrified, in later episodes, Anna Friels character works illegally but only to get her son into a decent school, people are all shades, they are good and bad and we see it all and this is more realistic than most dramas i've seen recently.
It attracts big name actors and really gives them a chance to get their teeth into well written well thought out parts, the first episode was emotive, touching and really clever, questioning peoples behaviour and the mentality of people who won't stand up to bullies and those who will even though it may cause pain to them and their families. This drama series gets 5 out of 5 from me as it was simply one of the best things I saw on tv this year.
The Street is a BBC drama that has just finished its third season. Each series is made up of 6 one hour episodes. It is set on a fictional street in Manchester and each program deals with a family that lives or works on this street. I hadn't watched series 1 & 2 thinking that it wouldn't be to by tastes as generally I prefer a good comedy. However, after catching episode 6 I rushed to my computer and, thanks to the genius that is BBC iplayer and its catch-up service, I sat down to watch the other 5 episodes. It is now safe to say that I am a convert and am keeping my fingers crossed for a fourth series.
Unusually the episodes tend not to follow on from one another and each can be viewed in isolation with no prior knowledge of the show. I think this is an excellent idea as you can be sure of watching and interesting drama every week that has an original storyline. It also prevents the program becoming like a soap opera in format and keeps it feeling very fresh.
Another notable factor about The Street is the all star cast that have appeared on it. This includes everyone from Jim Broadbent to Anna Friel to Bob Hoskins to Ruth Jones to Timothy Spall and beyond. Every week we are treated to a new and impressive cast with characters' rarely appearing in more than one or two episodes. I enjoy this as it ensures the show is never repetitive and that we get to see a host of British talent paraded across our screens. Without a doubt the actors are top notch and despite having Hollywood credentials amongst them it is easy to believe they live on a typical street in Manchester. However, I can understand that this might be seen as a negative point for people who prefer recurring characters that they can get to know.
The variety of storylines is also impressive as is the way the writers deal with sensitive and difficult topics. Examples of storylines from the third series include;
A woman who works as a prostitute in order to get her children into a good school.
A soldier who returns badly disfigured from Afghanistan and must adjust to "normal" life.
A racist chef who falls in love with a Polish immigrant.
People say that variety is the spice of life and I think this is definitely true in the case of this program. I feel like each episode is a fantastic one hour film and that they show just what good things are produced in Britain. The plots are beautifully written and I am thoroughly enthralled when watching them. I think that the sensitive subject matter is handled in an insightful, non-judgmental manner whereby the audience is left to make up their own minds about certain issues.
As it is a drama there is little comedy to be found here which is understandable. However, occasionally things can become a little too depressing which is something I prefer not to experience whilst trying to chill out watching television. The endings are not necessarily always uplifting but this does give the show a sense of realism and grittiness. After all living happily every after doesn't always happen in real life either.
This is certainly one of the best TV shows on television on the moment and one of the best ever produced by the BBC. I would definitely recommend The Street and even though the current series has finished it can still be found in its entirety on BBC3 (although I think it may disappear soon!) As well as being very entertaining it is also thought provoking and original.
I'd never really fancied watching this programme before, it's not one that's caught my imagination particulary. After watching The Apprentice and afterwards, the 'You're Fired' bit on BBC2, I was still fancying watching something else so had a flick and found The Street was on BBC1. Like I said it's not one of those things I thought was me, but I'd heard a lot of good things about it. Seeing Timothy Sspall, who I rate as an actor, was starring in it I thought, 'well I'll watching the first ten minutes and see what it's like.' When you are still sitting there and hour later and hadn't realised the time going by you know you've been watching something good.
The programme is on BBC1 on Wednesday nights. The first episode of the third series of The Street aired a few weeks back. The previous two series have achieved much acclaim and awards, including 2 Baftas and 2 Emmys. I hadn't realised quite what a star cast it had until I had a look on the BBC website (Although it only gives information on the first two series, come on BBC update your website!). The first two series have featured stars such as Jim Broadbent, Jane Horrocks and Timothy Spall and the current series is to include performances by Ruth Jones, Bob Hoskins and Anna Friel.
Although the cast lists are impressive we don't see them all in every episode. The whole programme is set in a street in Manchester and each episode focuses on a different person or family. Although you'll see some of the same faces pop up throughout the episodes are pretty much 'one off' storylines. For this reason I found it really easy to get to grips with having started watching series three yet not having seen one or two. You don't really need to. It's an unusual watch. Watching The Street feels very much like a soap opera (with better acting), however it's very much classed as a drama serial as the theme of 'The Street' is continuing, the episodes could also be treated as 'One off' dramas. For this reason I think it's very cleverly constructed.
Series Three is well underway now, but don't let that put you off watching, as I say. each episode can be enjoyed without any prior knowledge. Past episodes can always be viewed on iplayer if you miss them.
A show I recommend, try it even if you don't thing it's 'your thing,' you may be surprised.
The series follows the lives of various residents of one street in Manchester.