Director Shane Meadows, Tom Harper
Starring Thomas Turgoose, Joe Gilgun, Vicky McClure
Show **** Extras n/a
Did anyone doubt that Shane Meadows’ first foray into telly would be memorable? He was always starting from a position of strength, revisiting This Is England’s motley crew of skinheads four years on when they’re older and wiser (a bit), with nutty hairstyles and crap jobs. But while this four-parter never surpasses his best film work, Meadow’s finely tuned sensibilities still translate brilliantly to the small screen (as you’d expect, the use of music is superb). It feels like telly done proper.
Richly defined and compassionately drawn, the gang are all back – Shaun (Thomas Turgoose), Woody (Joe Gilgun), Milky (Andrew Shim), Smell (Rosamund Hanson), Lol (standout Vicky McClure) – each getting space to shine in a tale of aborted weddings, sex in the toilets and family turmoil. While splashed with more humour (some of it Carry On, it must be said…) than its precursor, shadows are always lurking. Directed by Tom Harper (The Scouting Book For Boys), the first two episodes dish out a light entrée before Meadows takes over for the positively biblical finale.
There are a few rough edges: some plotlines are handled clumsily, efforts to address Shaun’s racist past are a bit meek and one character’s true nature is signposted with thudding obviousness from the off. But Meadows has always shown ability to learn from his mistakes and, quibbles aside, we hope he means it when he says he wants to revisit the gang in Madchester in four years’ time. This Is England on Es and Whizz? Bring it on.