Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Yosser Hughes (Boys From The Blackstuff)

Wow, such a delay - holidays - sorry!!

I was watching Lord of the Rings today (The Two Towers) and, watching Bernard Hill playing King Theodin reminded me that first prominent role was  starring in this seminal early 80's TV drama. This 5 episode series was written by the well known Liverpudlian writer Alan Bleasdale and was set in Liverpool.  It followed the lives of 5 unemployed men and each episode featured a story about an individual character.

The series was developed from a 1978 play for television called The Black Stuff (the men had a tarmac laying job at that time).  to set this in context, in the early 80's in Liverpool, this was an era of high unemployment and a certain degree too of lawlessness (whether deserved, this has been a Liverpudlian trait portrayed a lot on TV).  Quite simply, a lot of men were unemployed as the former large employers such as coal mines and large car manufacturers stopped production.

The series starred Bernard Hill, Michael Angelis, Alan Igbon, Peter Kerrigan and Tom Georgeson, most of them well known actors on British TV at the time.  It also launched the career of Julie Walters, later to star in Educating Rita in 1983.

The most well remembered story of the series was Yosser's Story, named after Bernard Hill's character Yosser Hughes, as he faces losing his children due to his mental instability and violent reactions to his problems. 

The two most well known aspects of Yosser's character, were,

1. Headbutting people who he disagreed with

2. Him saying "Gis a job".

For non (UK) English readers, Gis a Job was him saying Give me a job.  It really was tragic as it seemed clear that his mental instability was due to him not having a job in order to provide for his children.  All he wanted was a job and was absolutely desparate.

This famous scene features the classic "I'm Desperate, Dan" as Yosser goes to confession.

Asa you can see, the famous "Kirby Kiss" has been passed on to Yosser's Young Daughter as the Social Services take his children away.

The episode also starred famous Liverpool FC players Graeme Souness and Sammy Lee.  This is a brilliant scene.  Graeme Souness was a hard man of football but even he was worried about being sat next to Yosser.

Finally, Yosser's famous "Gis a job" catchphrase became so popular (because it expressed a common feeling at the time) a 7 inch single was released!

In the UK at least, the whole series is on YouTube.  If you want to check out what a desperate place England was in the very early 80's, this is a good place to start.

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