February 14, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

E4, Monday 11th February

As the wonderfully bleak posters have been anticipating for the past few weeks, the time of the return of teen drama Skins finally came on Monday evening. Starting as spectacularly as it ended (minus the huge, great lorry out of nowhere), it opened with a contemporary dance scene spanning a good three minutes, no dialogue, just dance, in a church-like interior below a magnificent stained glass window. Not pretentious at all I hear you cry – how unSkins!

All the old crew are back, as marvellously screwed up as ever, some more so than others. Talk about pride coming before a fall, after his accident, arrogant stud Tony now has to be helped to write, eat, and even urinate. He’s rather determined to regain the use of his hands and his memory (so that he may fondle again, or at the very least, fantasise about his past beds) and spends the entire episode fighting his limitations. This doesn’t go quite so well when he decides to go to a rave where most people are completely off their face oblivious to the fact that everybody is knocking into everybody including troubled Sid, who is missing Cassie (currently in Scotland) and taking Scottish drugs to feel closer to her, obviously. He and Michelle, who has turned into the local vodka-swilling bike, are finding it difficult to come to terms with Tony’s current condition.

Elsewhere, Maxxie (aka Billie Elliot) just wants to dance. Of course, that’s in between getting bullied by the ASBO guy from his estate and getting it on with the same ASBO guy from his estate. Pigtails, pulling etc… His dad (country dancing brickie, Bill Bailey) just wants him to be a builder and bop in his spare time but clearly the YMCA-esque images are too much for Maxxie. There’ll be no yellow hard hats and absolutely no shirtless building.

Some interesting events to come this series, I imagine. Priding itself on being so ridiculously nonchalant in style that it seems not to care whether anyone likes it or not, Skins secretly hopes that people will enjoy it and of course, everyone who watches the show after all the hype likes to pretend that they’re non-plused and talks about it teasingly (but actually they love it and only wish their childhoods had been as cool).


By Susan Allen

Wonderland: The Madness of Dancing Daniel

February 8, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

BBC2, Wednesday 6th February

This week’s Wonderland, produced and directed by Fergus O’Brien, focussed on an unusual man with a complex and indefinable personality disorder struggling to find a place that will house him. Twenty-nine year old Daniel Turnbull is being treated by Professor Peter Tyrer, who describes him as what people regrettably see as “trouble?, a “leper? of society. Daniel is certainly no walk in the park. He is boisterous and demanding with a loftily shrill voice that would drive those around him pretty mad! However, he needs to find accommodation soon or he risks remaining on a psychiatric ward for a very long time.

We see the earnest Professor devotedly strive to find him lodgings in London as Daniel desperately wants to stay in the city but be forced to explain that he may not be accepted anywhere nearby. On the hunt of new smart clothes for an interview at lodgings in Plymouth they take an entertaining trip to Primark where Daniel prances round declaring, “I just want a normal red tie like Tony Blair would wear?. When he finally moves to a place in West London that accepts him at the last minute it is actually with mixed feelings but the Professor notes that this is the best thing that could have happened for him.

A captivating example of the frightening power of nurture, or the lack of, and just how much our upbringing shapes the way we think and behave, the programme sees him articulate his one true calling, dancing. As he pulsates to “Like a Virgin? with glazed-over eyes, he describes a happy memory from his childhood where he danced to a Madonna record. Happy memories, it turns out, are somewhat of a rarity – with a drug dealer of a father and a mother hooked on heroin it seems as if Daniel was rather neglected as a child. Though rescued at the event of his mother’s overdose by Dennis, a kind neighbour who adopted him, at the age of about twenty-one he quite suddenly began to have mental problems that meant he needed professional help.

More than the anything, the documentary illustrated the good that it’s possible to find within pretty bleak situations. When one person fails you, another will be sure to step in. Where there is neglect, somewhere nearby is support.

By Susan Allen