It’s a Sin

Having found Alice (sort of) we now turn our attention to the new Russell T Davies offering, It’s a Sin. This has been widely trailed and had good reviews; nevertheless I was a little wary because I’d been feeling down last night and didn’t want to get downer. In case you missed the trailers, It’s a Sin deals with the beginnings of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980’s, a time when homosexuality was legal but still deeply stigmatised, especially in traditional communities. But I needn’t have worried; so far it’s a delight. The series centres on three guys; Ritchie, a sheltered young lad from the Isle of Wight going to university on the mainland; Roscoe, a Nigerian whose family already know of his homosexuality and are planning to ship him back home to be ‘cured’, and a young Welshman Colin joining a London firm of couturiers seemingly staffed exclusively by gay men. There’s a predatory boss reminiscent of Monty in Withnail and I and an older colleague, Henry, who takes Colin under his wing and later dies of a mysterious disease, alone and abandoned by everyone including his Argentine lover. At uni, Ritchie falls in with a wild and joyous crowd and ends up changing from Accountancy to Drama, and as for Roscoe, he leaves the family home dressed in short skirt, skimpy top and headband so his trajectory is already set. I expected It’s a Sin to be sad; I did not expect it to be joyous, but so far it largely is. Episode one concentrates on music, dance, sex, self-discovery and joyous self-expression and ends with the three men plus two of their friends moving into a huge house together. It reminded me of the Small Axe films, especially Lovers Rock; it has something of that spirit in showing us a marginalised and oppressed community expressing itself.

It’s hard to imagine now just how hidden homosexuality was back in 1981. The Tory government – arguably stuffed with closet gays of which I suspect Stephen Fry’s character will turn out to be one – was vicious in its opposition to gay rights and at least one member of the cabinet, Matthew Parris, found serving in Thatcher’s government as a gay man a deeply uncomfortable experience. So far Thatcher has not been mentioned by name, nor has the Falkland’s war but there’s some anti-Argentine feeling expressed by one of Henry’s neighbours.

So it’s definitely worth a watch.

We’re still working through Mark Kermode’s series on cinema, of which more anon. I can’t help thinking it would have been better to have more episodes and take more time doing it, as it’s a bit of a whistle-stop tour so I find myself pausing half-way through in order to digest. This week’s episode was about cult films – we’re still waiting to see if he mentions Withnail.

And that was yesterday. Today we have no snow and the world is a muddy green.

Kirk out

January is the Looooooooooooongest

April may be the cruelest month but January has to be the longest; I started back at work last Monday with great enthusiasm but somehow by the middle of this week I was thinking, ‘is it still January? Surely it must be nearly the end of the month!’ Nope, not even close. We’re only just in the middle of this interminable period and already we’ve had snow, sleet, ice, freezing winds and more bad news than any soul can reasonably be expected to bear. So today I shall be steering clear of all that; no politics or weather or political weather, no news or current affairs. This will be a virus-free zone. Vaccines will not come near, neither shall impeachments or inaugurations. Violent insurrections will not touch it…

You get the picture. I got slightly into Monty Python mode there like the sketch from The Holy Grail: ‘Three shall be the number thou shalt count. And the number of the counting shall be three. Five is right out…’ and so on; this was perhaps in my head because of last night’s TV, as Mark Kermode touched on the Python films in his whistle-stop tour of British comedy, one episode of the BBC Four series on British cinema. And very amusing it was too. If there was rather too much in the way of Carry Ons, there was also a gratifying amount of Withnail to balance it out, and what the programme lacked in critical analysis it made up for in sheer nostalgia value. I’m tempted to go into a rant about how much of current TV is banal waffle, but this is going to be a light-hearted post so I won’t. As well as this, OH and I have really enjoyed Staged, and I hope you’ve caught up with this as well. It’s a brilliant spoof reality show with David Tennant and Michael Sheen chatting on zoom and trying to score points as they compare their careers and lives in lockdown. Series two expands to bring in a number of guests as they explore the making of a US remake: David and Michael are most disgruntled not to be cast in this themselves but it means we get cameos from people like Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Cate Blanchett, Whoopi Goldberg, Judi Dench and Samuel L Jackson. Staged reminded us of Episodes, which I’ve reviewed before, though there doesn’t seem to be a direct connection between the two series, but is part of a common trope where actors play a supposed version of themselves, usually a much nastier version (or so we hope.) This is a total contrast to when I was younger when comedians such as Frankie Howerd and Leonard Rossiter who seemed so pleasant on screen were in fact utter rotters in real life.

As for me, what am I like in real life? Now that would be telling – but for the moment, as Charlie Brooker so endearingly says, go away.

Kirk out