Funland is set in Britain’s Las Vegas – Blackpool, over the course of one long weekend. It is ostensibly about three different sets of characters whose stories gradually come together with devastating results.
The mark of co-writer Jeremy Dyson’s League of Gentlemen is all over Funland (theres even a role for fellow Gentleman Mark Gatiss as a Dutch taxidermist).
Blackpool may be all bright lights and kiss me quick hats on the surface but Funland reaches for its dark underbelly where nothing is quite as it seems, the series opens with Carter Krantz, played by Daniel Mays, who arrives in Blackpool to avenge the death of his mother. Without a penny to his name and carrying only a fragment of paper containing the words ‘Ambrose Chapel’, Carter tries to uncover the truth about his mother and in doing so is sucked into the most disturbing of mysteries.
We also meet the Woolf family who seem to have a finger in every dodgy pie going from seedy nightclubs to protection rackets, matriarch Mercy (the brilliant Judy Parfitt) is evil and manipulative whilst her son Shirley (Ian Puleston-Davies) is quite possibly mentally deranged, his wife Connie (Frances Barber) is desperate to hang on to the what she sees as her failing marriage.
Lastly there is the Suttons Dudley and Lola (Kris Marshall and Sarah Smart) a young couple who are trying to spice up their flagging marriage with a dirty weekend. Their stay at the Shangri-La soons turns into a nightmare when Dudley puts them three grand in debt thanks to a game of poker. Their decidedly grubby landlords solution is for Lola to take part in some “glamour photography” and pole dancing.
The three strands of the story slowly come together aided and abetted by some brilliantly supporting characters, Roy Barraclough is brilliant as the bewigged, out of his depth town Mayor and Mark Gatiss’s Ambrose Chapfel is a major league weirdo.
Lets be frank, this is definitely not a series for the feint of heart, there is foul language galore, graphic sex scenes, strong violence and several scenes that just make you want to cover your eyes but for all that, the writing, the acting and some brilliant camerawork, not to mention all the subtle and surreal moments, guarantee that it is a must see.
UK / BBC Three / 1×55 minute episode 10×30 minute episode / Broadcast 23 October – 7 November 2005
Writers: Simon Ashdown, Jeremy Dyson / Script Editor: Louisa Hopgood / Music: David A. Hughes / Executive Producer: Kenton Allen / Producer: Sanne Wohlenberg
DANIEL MAYS as Carter Krantz
JUDY PARFITT as Mercy Woolf
IAN PULESTON-DAVIES as Shirley Woolf
FRANCES BARBER as Connie Woolf
EMILY ASTON as Ruby Woolf
KRIS MARSHALL as Dudley Sutton
SARAH SMART as Lola Sutton
BETH CORDINGLY as Vienna Keen
ROY BARRACLOUGH as Oman Van Kneck
SIMON GREENALL as Ken Cryer