Thursday, 10 November 2005
Sensitive Skin, BBC2
A painstakingly realised drama that lays bare the casual crumbling of vibrant middle-age into the archaic angst of being a pensioner.
What to say if you didn’t like it
A void of a drama whose subtleties merely mask a yawning chasm of tepidity and narrative.
What was good about it?
• The cast. Essentially only three people, Davina (Joanna Lumley), Al (Dennis Lawson) and Orlando (James Lance), but each is superbly intimately sketched that they became near-icons after the first episode.
• Davina’s anxiety over growing old were stamped in the opening scene when her doctor outlined the crippling conditions associated with HRT. But her concern was only with the sole benefit – that it keeps her “looking younger”.
• Al and Davina’s sterile apartment, with its grey-washed walls, sparse décor. The visiting Orlando complained that the flat ideally suited him, and it would do just that – it was a parody of a young entrepreneur’s dream home (leaving aside the fact that entrepreneurs don’t dream), and so lifeless that even a ghost wouldn’t haunt it.
• Al’s frenetic personality contrasted well with the icier Davina. He was irascible with his son Orlando; vengeful when he went to the library purposefully to read the terrible reviews of a rival journalist’s new book cackling falsely at the literary bile; but epileptically contrite when he accidentally knocked down the local drug dealer.
• Meanwhile, Orlando, 33, has been mollycoddled by his parents and is aggravated that their decision to sell the home he grew up in for their apartment has finally cut the parental umbilical cord. Recovering after his girlfriend dumped him for being impotent, he spitefully demands that Al cares for his dog William – condemning him to be a parent, of sorts, once more.
• When Al and Davina joke about her braving the dangers of travelling on the underground, such as terrorists and muggers, she quips she “rather fancied” herself “as Purdey Hurst”.
• Even the human manifestation of Davina’s frustration as a, grouchy, grizzled admiral (played by Feddie Davies), representative of the moment she realised she would never marry Robert Redford, worked because of the matter-of-fact mood of the whole tale.
• The dislocation evident between Al and Davina when she emerged from the hairdressers, and tried in vain to keep it from blowing in the wind, while Al absently tried to hail a cab.
• The crushing mediocrity of middle-aged, middle-class suburban homes exemplified through Davina and Al’s visit to her sister. Her sister sat quaintly on the sofa, tea cup and saucer in hand, as if she had been there for all eternity, whilst her husband tried to impress Al with his terrible new compositions on his electric piano.
• The dog spinning in circles after inhaling cocaine.
What was bad about it?
• The mournful piano which punctuated the story, often heralding one of the protagonists moping around in a veil of self-pity.
• The rather obvious joke about the irritating cellophane on CDs
In the Flesh: Why we should be shouting about this more
Amid the tremendous bevy of high quality programmes delivered over the past few months – Prey , Happy Valley , From There to Here ...
What to Expect from The Lady Vanishes
Sunday night has long been the home of period drama on BBC One with recent examples being Upstairs Downstairs and Call the Midwife. Thi...
The TV week – what's new June 28-July 4
Lennie James in Fallout Saturday 4.15pm/9.30pm/midnight Glastonbury 2008 BBC2 – Jo Whiley, Lauren Laverne, Mark Radcliffe and Phill ...
ITV launches new Drama trailer
Today (Monday 14th January 2013) ITV1 became ITV. I know nobody likes change do they? With the rebrand came a new trailer showcasing the for...
Born Sloppy, Channel 4
For those of us mystified by the popularity of Sara Cox, Born Sloppy provided no clues. As a Radio 1 breakfast show presenter, she's no...
First Look: Peaky Blinders
The BBC have released the first trailer for new BBC2 drama Peaky Blinders The story begins in 1919 in the lawless slum neighbourhoods of...
Top 5 TV shows for teenagers
No other time in our lives compares to the torridly dramatic period of our teenage years. Fear not though. For those of you who still hav...