I like Brassic but the reason it’s getting such glowing notices is depressing

Joe Gilgun as Vinnie in Sky One’s Brassic. Image: Matt Squire

Sky One’s comedy drama is an x-rated Last of the Summer Wine but the lead character’s mental illness is sadly what excites most reviewers.

Brassic (Sky One) feels like the sort of TV comedy drama they last made about 15 years ago but would never get commissioned now, certainly not by the BBC. Almost all of the main characters — apart from love interest Michelle Keegan — are white, male and heterosexual. And it’s set in the kind of Lancashire market town surrounded by rolling sheep country where the opportunities for plausible diversity casting are really quite limited. So how come it has been getting such glowing notices from all the previewers and reviewers?

You’ll be depressed when I tell you.

Read the rest in the Spectator.


When did English A-level become a science?

Now that my youngest has got her A-level grades, I’m finally free to say just how much I have loathed the past 20 or so years I have spent helping my children with their English homework.

This is a sad admission. After all, I studied English at university and still love reading classic literature and learning poetry by heart. But when I read that the number of 18-year-olds taking English A-level has plummeted to its lowest level since 2001 I wasn’t at all surprised. If I were that age, I’m not sure I’d choose to do English either.

Read the rest in the Spectator.

Jeremy Deller’s right: acid house changed Britain forever

The artist’s BBC4 documentary Everybody in the Place: an Incomplete History of Britain 1984-1992 was a plea for tolerance and understanding

Amnesia rave, Coventry, 1991. Image: Tony Davis / Pymca / Shutterstock
Amnesia rave, Coventry, 1991. Image: Tony Davis / Pymca / Shutterstock

Jeremy Deller’s Everybody in the Place: an Incomplete History of Britain 1984-1992 (BBC4) began with some footage of kids queuing up outside a warehouse rave in Stoke-on-Trent in 1991. It was at once banal and extraordinary: everyone was white; nobody was overweight; none of the clothes were designer, expensive or branded; nobody wore facial hair. This was the England of my late youth and I remember it vividly. But it feels so remote from the present that it might just as well have been a lithograph of extravagantly side-burned men in stiff woollens captioned: ‘The Camp before Balaklava’.

Deller is probably a bit more left-wing than me — how could he not be? He’s a conceptual artist whose most famous work is a meditation on the miners’ strike — I do agree with his thesis that the birth of acid house was the revolutionary moment that changed Britain forever. He illustrated this with scenes of Northern ravers clubbing in disused factories, marking what he called the ‘death ritual transformation of Britain from an industrial to a service economy’.

Read the rest in the Spectator.