The Boys From The Blackstuff (BBC Drama Michael Angelis)

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 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.

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Thatcher’s Bleak Britain was of course in full swing when Boys From the Blackstuff 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.

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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.

Cast: 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

Writer: Alan Bleasdale / Music: Ilona Sekacz / Producer: Michael Wearing

UK / BBC One / 6×70 minute episodes / Broadcast 10 October – 7 November 1982

THE BLACK STUFF (2 Jan 1980)

JOBS FOR THE BOYS (10 Oct 1982)
MOONLIGHTER (17 Oct 1982)
YOSSER’S STORY (31 Oct 1982)

Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.