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Monday, 16 February 2009

New Town, BBC4

Did we like it?
This is probably our favourite show of the year so far. And it came as quite a surprise because a drama about a planning issue in part of Edinburgh doesn't exactly sound great on paper.

What was good about it?
• It was much more than a drama about a planning issue in part of Edinburgh. Sinister and funny, smart and silly, ludicrous and real – it ticked off all those contradictions and was performed brilliantly.
• All the characters were rooted in believable reality but were completely bonkers at the same time. None more so than Mark Gatiss and Max Bremer as Duff and Mikki, better known as Purves + Pekkala, two weird architects who have formed a Gilbert & George style partnership. They wear identical clothes and poncey spectacles, they are bringing up a sombre identikit son and they specialise in creating minimalist kitchens (and will snobbishly refuse to countenance colourful tiles, even if they are individually baked in France).
• There were no dud performances but, aside from Gatiss and Bremer, the ones we loved most were Gabriel Quigley as aspirational nightmare Shona, who MUST get her hands on an India Street townhouse, Duncan Duff channeling James Dreyfus as pompous Ernst and Daniela Nardini as estate agent Meredith, who bans the word slump, indulges in hystrionics and insists: "The New Town lifestyle doesn't come cheap. If it did anyone could live here – and they can't.".
• The satire on psuedo-intellectual art school students, slouching around with deliberate grumpiness. Into their world stepped naive,free-spirited Rhina (Rose Leslie) from the island of Vatersay for whom art is only a success if it achieves a near photographic record of something real.
• Writer Annie Griffin (who we've loved since her underrated Book Group masterpiece on Channel 4) was even kind enough to throw in a plot in which the head of Scottish Heritage died in a fall from the church at the centre of a planning battle (Omid Djalili's long-haired property developer Walter wanted to turn it into a carpark).

What was bad about it?
• It was a one-off and if it doesn't become a series, we'll feel badly deprived.


Anonymous said...

I'll spare people the usual clichés about why we have to wade through rubbish on BBCs 1&2 when gems like this are hidden away.

Newtown is very watchable with deft touches supplied by both a subtle yet sharp script and quality performances from the cast. Okay, Omid Djalili hammed it a tad but it still fitted quite well.


Anonymous said...

great show. love the characters and direction. music is great too. really enjoyed it. visited edinburgh before and nice to see places i've been on the screen. think this could become cult in the same vein as black books...

Anonymous said...

funny like. kinda agree wi the Omid Djalili comment but i think it's perfect wi the rest of the eccentric characters. got to see more of this, want tae ken what happens.

Ruari said...

this show is wonderfully written and directed with a great cast. love O'Dowd and Nardini. totally agree with all the other comments on here. liked the music and the eccentricity of the characters. would love to see more.

Anonymous said...

Rxcellent; I thought that quality British TV like this had gone forever. Funny, quirky and crisp. There has to be more of this to save us from the cult of celebrity and the endless re-runs of the Vicar of Dibley.

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