This Is England '88

This Is England '88


Reviewed by: Paul Logan

After the success of This is England ‘86, Shane Meadows returns with a follow up to the gritty, humorous, drama series based on his popular film of the same name.

The three hour-long episodes featured are set from December 23-25, 1988. Lol (Vicky McClure) is now looking after her and Milky’s (Andrew Shim) child while being haunted by the events that occurred 18 months ago. Woody (Joe Gilgun) is trying to rebuild his life with his new girlfriend after finding out that his best friend had been sleeping with Lol. While Shaun (Thomas Turgoose) is feeling trapped in his relationship with Smell (Rosamund Hanson) and starts to develop a relationship with a girl he is doing a college Christmas play with.

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Compared to This is England ’86, this series is distinctly more serious. Nevertheless, it is still very entertaining, just quite depressing to watch as the audience witnesses the slow, unpleasant destruction of each character.

This series is slightly different to the previous episodes and the feature film, as it focuses mainly on Lol and Woody’s stories, while the other characters apart from Shaun and Smell, are treated with substandard subplots. This is a minor flaw of This is England ’88 as it would have been interesting to see how the other characters have developed over time. But this may be to do with the decision to keep this show to a short, three-episode run.

Meadows is known for his ability to create dramatic tension and this series is no exception. The director is also great at showing the best aspects of the actors he works with. It is interesting that he has decided to centre mainly on a female-driven narrative compared to the aggressive, male-driven plots in his previous work.

Everyone involved gives impressive performances, McClure, in particular, is astonishing and heartbreaking as someone who has to live and deal with her actions. She has destroyed both her relationship with her family, friends and ex-boyfriend through unfortunate events.

The show will not appeal to sensitive people as the subject matter is very hard hitting but this will be no surprise to anyone who has watched any of the This Is England franchise. Not as gripping as the previous instalment, this is still a thoroughly rewarding series with fantastic performances and direction from one of the best directors working in the UK at the moment.

Reviewed on: 15 Mar 2012
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This Is England '88 packshot
After a traumatic 18 months Lol and Woody are trying to rebuild their lives, will they live happily ever after or will this be a Christmas they never forget?
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Director: Shane Meadows

Starring: Thomas Turgoose, Vicky McClure, Andrew Shim, Joe Gilgun, Rosamund Hanson

Year: 2011

Runtime: 70 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


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