Booze Cruise, ITV1

by | Sep 7, 2003 | All, Reviews

Like so much of the current flood of drama from ITV1, Booze Cruise lined up the big-name stars, then spent the next two hours showing that they’d been hired as the play-safe option, rather than as the basis for anything special.

The cast list was impressive, to say the least – Neil Pearson, Martin Clunes, pre-eminent fat bloke Mark Benton and a sitcom superstar from the past, Brian ‘George Roper’ Murphy. There were endless possibilities in the plot – the four of them plus Clunes’ future son-in-law driving to Calais for a haul of cheap alcohol, while their wives stayed behind on their executive-style housing development. But possibilities evidently weren’t on the programme-makers’ agenda, whereas going through the motions definitely was.

If Booze Cruise contained a single idea that hasn’t been done a dozen times since George & Mildred’s heyday, then we must have blinked and missed it. The apparently affluent family that’s secretly on the brink of bankruptcy, the wives of warring husbands settling everything over a glass of Chardonnay, the demure young bride-to-be shagging the wedding photographer, the crabby, ridiculed old bloke turning out to be a war hero – if it’s in the Cliché Hall of Fame, then it was probably in here, too.

It was all professionally done, of course, although these days ITV’s idea of professionalism clearly includes keeping everything as bland and unobjectionable as possible. For example, Murphy’s visit to a war museum could have given this consciously lightweight drama a sharp, thought-provoking edge, but you could almost hear the suits warning that too much history wouldn’t go down well with the all-important 18-35 audience segment, and it was trivialised instead.

And so it went on, until the inevitable warmish-feel conclusion, professionally engineered to leave the audience in a happy, receptive state of mind. Booze Cruise was a Big Mac of a drama; large, comforting, easy to consume and devoid of any originality. That’s the diet ITV seems intent on feeding us this winter

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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