UK / BBC One / 6×70 minute episodes / Broadcast 10 October – 7 November 1982
Writer: Alan Bleasdale / Music: Ilona Sekacz / Producer: Michael Wearing
One of the finest series ever to be broadcast not just on UK TV but anywhere in the world. Written by Alan Bleasdale, Boys From the Blackstuff began life as a one off BBC play called The Black Stuff and followed a group of pretty shifty Liverpudlian tarmac layers as they travelled north to do a job, very funny and very real The Black Stuff led to the BBC commissioning a full blown series which was broadcast in 1982.
The cast are uniformly fantastic with Bernard Hill giving a career making turn as Yosser Hughes (Hill won a BAFTA award for his portrayal of the desperate Yosser) who spawned two catchphrases that worked their way into the nations psyche “Gissa job” and “I can do dat” both got to the core of Yosser’s troubles – dragging his kids along as he struggles to find work, any work, descending further into hell as eventually his kids are taken away from him.
Michael Angelis plays Chrissie Todd, an animal lover (more than likely based on Angelis’s role as the hippy Lucius in The Liver Birds) who is pushed over the edge by his nagging wife Angie (played by the fantastic Julie Walters) and kills his pet geese because they have no money to buy food. Worthy of equal mention is Tom Georgeson as Dixie Dean who was nominal leader of the gang. Peter Kerrigan as the ageing George Malone and Alan Igbon as the kleptomaniac Loggo Logmond.
Thatcher’s Bleak Britain was of course in full swing when this series was made and any serious drama of the time reflected that, the boys are unemployed (there are some very real scenes of what it was like to sign on the dole in Britain in the early 1980’s), but are willing to take jobs on the side if any present themselves. Boys From The Blackstuff made a huge impact on the nation and is a hugely important piece of 1980’s television, it’s also a hugely entertaining, very funny and an incredibly sad piece of work.
Interestingly A Play For Today entry by Bleasdale called The Muscle Market (13 Jan 1980) broadcast just two weeks after The Black Stuff could almost be considered as part of The Blackstuff canon, it starred Pete Postlethwaite and Alison Steadman but instead went out as a stand alone.
MICHAEL ANGELIS as Chrissie Todd
BERNARD HILL as Yosser Hughes
TOM GEORGESON as Dixie Dean
PETER KERRIGAN as George Malone
ALAN IGBON as Loggo Logmond
JULIE WALTERS as Angie Todd
GARY BLEASDALE as Kevin Dean
JEAN BOHT as Miss Sutcliffe
JAMES ELLIS as The Wino
THE BLACK STUFF (2 Jan 1980)
JOBS FOR THE BOYS (10 Oct 1982)
MOONLIGHTER (17 Oct 1982)
SHOP THY NEIGHBOUR (24 Oct 1982)
YOSSER’S STORY (31 Oct 1982)
GEORGE’S LAST RIDE (7 Nov 1982)