What is this massive guilt-trip with working-class people who get famous?
Craig Cash, Steve Coogan, Bernard Hill and the rest of the cast of this maudling, sentimental tripe about the loveable working-classes in the North appear to lose their critical faculties when it comes to this sort of stuff.
I have to confess I only made it through the first episode. But it was clear from the first five minutes what rubbish it was going to be. Steve Coogan plays a loveable family man and gambler called Bob Crosby. ‘Bing’, they call him here in the first of many examples of Royle Family and Early Doors writer Craig Cash running out of ideas.
He sells the television to pay for gambling and spends most of his wages on gambling the week after his wife has given birth to their first baby. Back in real life, this would make him a cunt. But in loveable ‘TV Northland’ its fine because he sings her a song in the lovably working-class club they go to and everyone sings along. ‘What a character he is’, we’re supposed to think. What a load of absolute shite.
I love Steve Coogan as a comedy actor, but he shows his limitations in this and you can see him constantly struggling to reign in his Partridgeisms. Maybe he’d have been better with a decent script. Or a good Director. Or a less misty-eyed ‘how great it is to come from a housing estate in the North’ cast. But that’s all academic. This is just by-the-numbers, condescending rubbish. I can only guess that the people involved in it are now so far removed from their backgrounds that they really believe this is a fair representation of the North.
TV people love all this sort of shit though. It saves them from ever venturing up there out of curiosity. Of course, there are many very good examples – The Royle Family, Early Doors, some Alan Bennett, some of Alan Bleasdale’s stuff ( though I’ve been watching his stuff again recently and it dates quite badly).
In case you’re wondering, TV Northland includes:
- A working-man’s pub/social club where people from all ages mingle – like that bar in Star Wars except the females are less attractive.
- A Coronation Street type street where everyone lives and grew up together.
- A central character who is going through a tough time but deals with it by displaying his plucky northern sense of humour.
- A father who is timid but loveable and has a secret. A quite loveable secret. And a shed.
- A mother who is initially stern but loveable. She secretly knows about both the secret and the shed.
- Our main character’s loveable best-mate from school. And his wife who is best-mates-from-school with our main character’s loveable wife. Our main character’s loveable wife may well be also be best-mates with our main character’s loveable best-mate from school. ( I hope you’re following all this, it’s important).
- Someone official who is a cunt. We know he is a cunt because he has a different accent (usually Southern) and wears a shirt and tie. His job is to take away the shed/reveal the secret/break up the loveable working-class friendships.
With the pedigree of the acting and writing involved in this, we really should expect something much much better. I felt patronised enough watching it, and I’m Scottish. I hate to think how I’d feel if I actually came from the North of England.
Stay in your sheds until it clouds over again.