What’s it all about?
Blackpool impresario Ripley Holden opens up a new casino on the seafront, but his joy is tempered by the discovery of a body on the premises.
What to say if you liked it
An unusual drama populated by bizarre characters with a conventional setting, all of which that adds to the eerie atmosphere.
What to say if you didn’t like it
A tired drama that relies on starry gimmicks to make the anonymous characters discernable from the pitch black void of dramatic oblivion this production has crawled from.
What was good about it?
• David Morrissey is excellent as the boorish, bigoted Ripley Holden in managing to make such a grotesque anti-hero both charismatic and engaging. Hates include vegetarians (“lentil jockeys”), anti-gambling protestors (“they look like an advert for Cancer Research who only care about pension plans which is gambling without the fun”) and his daughter’s biker ex-boyfriend (“Special needs meets Special Brew”)
• David Tennant as DI Peter Carlisle who, when not eating or drinking in every scene, has echoes of Tom Baker’s Dr Who – one moment bumbling and eccentric, the next charming and perspicacious.
• The musical interludes (everyone bopping on the opening night of the casino, and Ripley and DI Carlisle dancing cheek to cheek) exhibit a willingness to innovate.
• Georgia Taylor as Ripley’s daughter Shyanne, who shows enough promise that she can break free of the vice like gravity of a Coronation Street typecast.
League Of Gentlemen’s Steve Pemberton as the buttoned-up accountant. His best scene: sending his specs flying while cavorting to Come On Eileen.
What was bad about it?
• Any drama in which the cast break into impromptu song will suffer often inferior comparisons with the elegiac work of Dennis Potter, and Blackpool is no different. While we salute the attempt, Blackpool’s efforts seemed little more than window dressing and more often resembled Fame (without the awful legwarmers) than the fascinating The Singing Detective, where the tunes frequently gave depth to the protagonists.
• Ripley Holden’s odd chest hair that seems to be all that remains after Diarmuid Gavin has hacked away with his garden shears to leave a neatly cut heart design on the upper chest.
• For the second time in a week (see Conviction), characters become marooned in the Disco That Time Forgot, only this time the songs were almost 20 years out of date – Level 42’s Lessons In Love, Robert Palmer’s Addicted To Love and Come On Eileen by Dexy’s.