Wednesday, January 3

This Life, But Not As We Know It

Helen Parton finds the ten-year reunion of one of her favourite shows a little hard to swallow.

It was billed as event TV, equalling the denouement of who shot JR but unfortunately This Life + 10 (9pm, BBC2) was more like the first episode of Eldorado: a hell of a letdown. Maybe it’s because this time the characterisation was so clunky as we see our favourite 90s quintet return at the funeral of motorcycle courier (turned dental hygienist!) Ferdy. Anna the successful barrister was believable enough and Miles the ex-pat hotellier sort of fit while Warren had clearly been driven to becoming a life coach after spending so many years as Bergerac’s sidekick on Midsomer Murders.

But Milly the stay at home Mum and Egg the successful novelist? Apparently the scene when Egg is speaking about his book at a press conference was series creator Amy Jenkins’ starting point for this ten-year reunion special. But clearly Jenkins had forgot Egg only wanted to write for a living for about two episodes in the original series, and then found that cooking was far more his forte. As it was, the closest we got to that was Egg being compared to Jamie Oliver for having his life filmed by twentysomething documentary maker Claire. Ah yes, here was a plot device crowbarred in so we could have some more talking head scenes, seeing as nobody was seeing a therapist anymore.

Though God knows they needed to now more than a decade ago – Miles still in love with Anna, Anna having biological clock issues, Warren popping a series of Holby City’s worth of pills. The fact was there was too much ground to cover in eighty minutes and everyone unbelievably dusted themselves off as each mini disaster unfolded – Milly falling off a horse – oh it’s OK, she’s fine and cackling maniacally, Warren overdosing– duh, he only took the one sleeping tablet. Even Miles’s country pile being repossessed wasn’t that bad – at least we didn’t have to see his ghastly cream damask sofa anymore for one thing.

He managed to keep his Portishead and Massive Attack CDs from 1997 I hear and that brings me to another thing – This Life’s music was always spot on and that bit of nostalgic trip hop aside, it’s all gone a bit Pete Tong. We have Egg listening to old Killers and Strokes, when clearly he’d have either gone Q-reading muso with Arctic Monkeys, Dylan, Snow Patrol and Jamie T on repeat, lurched into James Blunt dirge or refused to believe a good record had been made post-Britpop. And don’t even get me started on this particular cringe-inducing exchange. Egg: “Her last boyfriend was one of the Kaiser Chiefs!” Miles: “The what cheeses?”. The TV script equivalent of “Is it raining, I hadn’t noticed.” I’m sure you’ll agree.

I know all the actors schedules are jam-packed these days- Jack Davenport is now playing a swashbuckling Miles in Pirates of the Caribbean in Hollywood having done a turn as a comedy Miles in the truly dreadful Coupling and Andrew Lincoln and Daniella Nardini keep popping up as variations of Egg and Anna in ITV specials, but surely even they knew that forcing the viewer to wolf down a big helping of a one-off instead of say a sensibly sized two parter, would give all concerned televisual heartburn, not to mention a little heartache for what had been top notch, must see telly and was now as dodgy as Miles’ new haircut.

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