“Southwark. Bright and spacious four-bedroom house for rent. Within easy reach of City and West End. Would suit young professionals. No DSS. Available now. £450 per week.”
This is 13 Benjamin Street in London, better known as home to This Life’s main characters and the hub of one of the 1990’s most entertaining and ground-breaking drama series. Egg, Milly, Miles and Anna are four young lawyers battling their way up the greasy pole of London’s highly competitive legal battleground. Add Warren, who’s still finding his footing as a solicitor, Jo the Essex barrow-boy turned clerk, Kira (Warren’s young cousin), Ferdy the displaced motorbike courier, the insufferable Rachel and Milly’s oily boss O’Donnell and you have an ensemble cast unique in its versatility, naturalism and sheer believability.
This Life was created by former trainee solicitor Amy Jenkins, who realised there was no authentic show on British television dealing with the realities of twentysomething metropolitan life. Sure, there were soaps such as EastEnders and (to, let’s face it, a lesser extent) Hollyoaks, both of which touched on vaguely relevant issues. Jenkins decided soaps weren’t enough. The world depicted by This Life is cynical, unforgiving, frequently stark in its judgement, and funny, miserable, hopeful and utterly aimless in turn.
Although the main cast members are working somewhere within the legal profession, it would be wrong to paint This Life as a legal drama. The show’s strength lies not in its storylines as much as in its immaculately painted characters. Miles is a repressed ex-public school bigot with delusions of grandeur; Anna is a fiery Scot who delights in using her overt sexuality to her advantage; Milly and Egg are the dream couple whose hitherto idyllic co-existence is shattered by her infidelity and his self doubt; and Warren is the gay Welshman who hasn’t come out to his family, and whose innocent cousin Kira has just nabbed a receptionist job at his firm.
Now famous for its ground-breaking, honest depiction of the mindset of the 90s young professional, This Life certainly didn’t pull any punches. It’s safe to say a show such as Queer as Folk wouldn’t have made it to the small screen without This Life paving the way with its frank depiction of casual drug use, ill-advised promiscuity, prostitution and vicious office politics.
A documentary about creator Amy Jenkins called This Life, That Girl was broadcast on BBC2 Saturday 8 July 2000 @ 11.20pm profiling her career in the lead up to her first novel for which she won a massive advance.
On 2 January 2007 there was a surprise 80 minute reunion episode called +10 catching up with the main cast.
UK / BBC Two – Island World / Season One: 11×40 minute episodes Season Two: 21×45 minute episodes / Broadcast 18 March 1996 – 7 August 1997 and 2 January 2007
Creator: Amy Jenkins / Executive Producer: Tony Garnett / Producer: Jane Fallon / Theme Music: Mark Anderson, Cliff Freeborn / Performed by The Way Out / Script Editor: Helena Pope
JACK DAVENPORT as Miles Andrews
AMITA DHIRI as Milly Nassim
ANDREW LINCOLN as Edgar ‘Egg’ Cook
JASON HUGHES as Warren
DANIELA NARDINI as Anna Forbes
GEOFFREY BATEMAN as Hooperman
DAVID MALLINSON as O’Donnell
STEVE JOHN SHEPHERD as Jo
NATASHA LITTLE as Rachel (Season 2)
LOUISA BRADSHAW-WHITE as Kira
RAMON TIKARAM as Ferdy
SACHA CRAISE as Kelly
PAUL MEDFORD as Paul
JULIET COWAN as Nicki