Britain in search for a new identity, in the effort to forget the horror of two world wars, striving to recover in the shadow of the haunting foreboding of an atomic attack,  is in the background of  two BBC drama series I've recently watched: BBC1 afternoon show, Privates, and BBC2 second season of The Hour. Both series are brilliant and recommendable. Maybe my introduction can mislead you, they are neither gloomy nor depressing.They are differently entertaining series, thrilling emotions and fun garanteed. Both are already available on DVD (see direct links below to win a copy or to purchase sites) . If you've missed them, no excuses.

Privates  - We gotta get out of this place

Privates is a BBC1 drama series set in 1960, when National Service was not an option.   The 5-part series follows eight privates who are part of the last intake of National Service, stationed at a basic training depot in North Yorkshire. The episodes follow them hurting, growing, rebelling and having fun. Fun is a key word you should keep in mind, because the series is totally amusing, original and intriguing. 

The events are seen from the point of view of one of the 8 conscripts,  the pacifist Private Keenan,  played by the talented Alexander Vlahos
(Mordred in BBC Merlin). He finds himself thrown into an environment he definitely despises and watchers will have to wait on - but not for long -  to figure out why someone like him hasn't  chosen the civil service, instead . With Private Keenan, the most awkward and unpromising group of conscripts: the apparently eccentric Private Lomax played by Ross Anderson, the Eton toff Private White-Bowne played by Jack Fox, the Elvis fan Private Davies played by Matthew Aubrey, the Cockney Private Wratten played by Billy Seymour, the somewhat innocent Private Rothman played by Sam Swann, the clumsy Private Hoy played by David Kirkbride and the shy Private McIlvenny played by Conor MacNeill.

Alexander Vlahos as Private Keenan from http://forum.merlinitalia.it
The personal predicaments and family matters of their officers - Captain Gulliver (Patrick Baladi) and Sergeant Butcher (Michael Nardone) mingle with the eight protagonists' new and past experiences,  the result is a convincing choral portrait with many hilarious moments as well as gripping and touching ones. 
The stories are told and highlighted through great music from 60s, the songs thoroughly chosen to complete the nostalgic picture.
The end of the series was a real cliffhanger. Please BBC, a second series and, possibly, on prime time TV.

Discover more at BBC Official Site or Imdb
Win a copy of Privates DVD (deadline 7 Febraury)

Watch these two videos from YouTube

The Hour 2 

The second series of Abi Morgan's 1950s TV news drama returned better than ever. I liked series 1 very much  (my review) and totally loved season two. Peter Capaldi, Hannah Tointon and Tom Burke join the cast we met in series one, including Romola Garai, Ben Winshaw ,  Dominic West and Anna Chancellor.
The series features corruption and political intrigue, in the background the unsettling and rapid change of the late 50s. Involved in the space race and aiming at becoming a nuclear power, Britain seems on the threshold of a new era of modernisation, economic optimism, scientific progress and cultural change connected to new immigration from the Commonwealth.
The 6-part new series sees the team coping with ITV cutthroat competition and struggling to broadcast the stories they believe in as they cope with the haunting spectre of the Cold War and changing social mores.
Bel Rowley (Romola Garai) is still single and determined not to get involved with another married man. She finds out that Hector (Dominic West) is being lured to ITV. She fights for her programme and finds herself charmed by her adversary, Bill Kendall (Tom Burke), the producer who wants to steal their anchor man.
Hector Madden (Dominic West) has risen to the status of a national celebrity. He is unsettled by his wife’s  (Oona Chaplin) desire to establish her own TV career and finds himself drawn to the late night clubs of Soho where he befriends Kiki (Hannah Tointon), a club performer.
Freddie Lyons (Ben Whishaw), who was fired after ‘The Lord Elms’ live interview, makes an unexpected return to The Hour. Having been away for several months travelling around the world, he returns as co-host of The Hour and a married man, to both Bel and Hector’s surprise.
Lix (Anna Chancellor) is still at the foreign desk, fighting for airtime for international stories, but we are revealed a new intimate side to her  when Randall, the new manager,  arrives at The Hour.
The stellar cast deliver stunning performances, the scripts are gripping, the music of the 50s makes everything atmospheric and nostalgic. Get ready to suspence and thrilling moments and, especially to a breathtaking, overwhelming final episode ending with a cliffhanger. It seems BBC can’t do without lately. Fingers crossed for a third season. With Ben Winshaw in it. Yes, I believe in miracles.   
Watch a trailer from YouTube

1 comment:

Unknown said...

If there isn't a third season of The Hour I will be just DEVASTATED. Loved season two!