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THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY
Julia Davis is fast becoming one of
the best actresses in the country. Her performances with Rob Bryden in
Human Remains gave us an early indication of where her head was at; a
deeply disturbing and dark abode populated by manipulative femme fatales.
This was the premise of Nighty Night where Julia wrote and starred in
perhaps one of the nastiest, truly shocking ‘slit-coms’ of all time.
Perhaps only Chris Morris in his most misanthropic Blue Jam days came
anywhere near the surreal horror of
However, Series 2 of Nighty Night was
something of a let-down, an attempt to push an already brutal concept over
the edge towards self-parody. Like Caroline Aherne’s Royle Family which
also lost the plot when Denise became a Daily Mail stereotypical prole
In this one off feature length
Craddock is shown to be a snobbish,
overbearing, self-absorbed, egotistical, rude, domineering and sometimes
cruel bully. But a loveable one. As she ends her life, sat alone, senile
and confused in comically applied make-up, eating re-heated nursing home
food, she appears to have been given her just deserts. Eating a mouthful
‘If I had to do it all again, I’d
use a little less fennel.’
So, catching up with the gang after
seven years was always going to be fraught with danger. In a one-hour
special, all the stray plotlines were pieced together; Jim and Barb were
still stuck in their ciggies and sofa groove, only the telly had got
bigger, much, much bigger. As they have in the past six years or so. Baby
David is now 7 years old and Nana was living, bedridden in her daughters
and son in law’s living room. This pisses Jim off immensely and the
usual minor domestic kick-offs carry on as if the programme has never been
away. Oh, Anthony also has a son, though he’s not with Emma anymore and
seems not too happy with his new girlfriend. He also wears a suit and is
en route to ‘a conference in
There are the now regulation Jim and Twiggy dancing scenes and – you guessed it – the heart-rending emotional scenes involving Nana’s impending death. There’s even a Jim’s banjo piece and a Joe song. They really wanted to go out on a bang and just about pulled it off. It was often very heavy handed and overly sentimental, it was also a bit snide in places (Cheryl emptying Nana’s urine bag into the sink then wiping the residue with a tea towel which she left hanging from the drawer). Jim degenerated further into bum territory and Denise was as comatose as ever. The scenes as family and assorted friends rushed to the hozzy to see dying Nana were frankly ridiculous and all in all it was a mess but a fucking funny mess.
Despite the novelty wearing off years ago, Aherne’s characters with all their faults have remained sympathetic and real. You care about them. You want Denise to be a better mum, you want Jim to be less of a bum, you want Anthony to succeed. After the programme, the likes of Shaun Ryder, Peter Kaye, Noel Gallagher, Johnny Vegas, Paul Heaton, Jimmy McGovern and other professional northerners loved by patronising middle Englanders explained why they loved the programme. Even very posh sounding JK Rowling told us how she was raised in a steel town and had an upbringing very similar to the Royles, where everyone went ‘down the pabb’ and Shameless writer, Paul Abbott popped up to offer his usual sanctimonious anlaysis. Rowling was actually quite perceptive as was, of all people, Richard Madeley. Shaun Ryder looked to be in the grip of extra strong medication.
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