Review: Alan Bleasdale Presents…

Alan Bleasdale is an English screenwriter who has written for radio, stage and screen. Born in Liverpool, his social commentary focuses on the underprivileged working class within society, and often showing a gritty, realistic depiction of what it is like to survive from day to day.

Simply Media have released 5 of Bleasdale’s Channel 4 programmes from the 1990’s, and while released individually, I highly recommend that you buy all of them.

Blood on the Dole (1994)

Blood on the Dole follows 4 teenagers (2 boys and 2 girls) as they leave school and have to make their way in ‘the real world’.

Love, lust, money, ambitions, despair…the whole gamut of emotions and dreams are exposed as they try to carve out their own existence in a harsh and unforgiving world.

Joey (Stephen Walters) has a quick temper and little time for anyone who tries to get in his way of making money. Starting his own roofing firm, he soon discovers that he has vertigo and working at height definitely doesn’t agree with him. It is only through a journey of heartbreak and rejection that he discovers his true artistic passion in life.

The other 3 major characters also go through their own story arc of self discovery…with many laughs and tears along the way. Never one to pull any punches, Bleasdale’s script and storylines take you down paths that are often uncomfortable viewing, but completely gripping.

Despite a devastating downbeat ending, Blood on the Dole is ultimately a story about hope and survival.

Self Catering (1994)

After surviving a plane crash, 5 people are stranded on a beach and do all that they can to survive while cut off from civilisation.

As a huge movie fan, I had a big smile on my face all the way through Self Catering. The survivors take on the names of their favourite movie stars, which makes for many memorable celluloid related quotes.

Having people forced to survive together will of course create tension, and the most civilised of conversations are often turned into heated arguments as tempers flare and emotions are stretched.

Will they survive? Will they be rescued?

You’ll have to watch and find out.

Requiem Apache (1994)

Hamish (Alfred Molina) is a retired getaway car driver and lives quietly in the country looking after his baby son while his wife is at work.

His tranquility is shattered when he is visited by his old gang who make him an offer that he can not refuse. Not in the sense of earning money that he wants, but more to do with what may happen to him and his baby if he does refuse their offer.

Stretched to find someone to look after the baby, there is only one thing that he can do…take the baby on the job with him!

Surely nothing can go wrong while having to care for a baby while being a getaway driver on a heist…can it?

Pleasure (1994)

Emma (Jennifer Ehle) answers a lonely hearts advert and her life changes for ever.

A romantic and funny story, Pleasure is a ‘RomCom’ which warms the heart and raises many belly laughs as well as smiles.

A scene in a fairground is one that a lot of people can relate to, and the characters are both engaging and likeable in their own individual ways.

Not as dark as some of Bleasdale’s other output, but a wonderful tale of trying to find true love.

Soft Sand, Blue Sea (1998)

Set in a children’s home, where conflict is an everyday occurrence, 13 year old David and 9 year old Danni find that escape is a necessity for them to survive.

Soft Sand, Blue Sea tugs at the heartstrings more than any of the other titles in this series of releases.

Watching young children cope with so many issues at such a young age is a tough watch, but as mentioned before, Bleasdale never steps away from hard hitting issues.

Intense, yet intoxicating, this is yet another of those movies that may have passed you by, but is now thankfully available to watch thanks to Simply Media.

Review by Dave (host of 60 Minutes With) from discs kindly supplied by Simply Media.

Header photo ©️Liverpool Echo