This is England 90: why fans of the series should let it go

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Be warned: spoilers for the film and TV series throughout!

There are persistent rumours that Shane Meadows might not yet be done with his wonderful cast of characters from the This is England saga. But as much as I’d love to see them all again down the line in a new series, This is England 90 is where it really should all end.

Shane Meadows’ 2006 film This is England was an instant cinematic classic on release. A film that opened with a montage of iconic images of 80s England from Roland Rat, to the frightening rise of National Front marches.

TV series This is England 90 appears very much to be the conclusion of the This is England saga. It all came to an incredibly emotional climax after a hard won happy ending for many of the characters and a little dash of tragedy for others.

But it was always this way, right back to the original film. Meadows has constantly balanced 80s nostalgia with the depressing reality of some people’s bleak lives. Stephen Graham was the standout in the original film as Combo, delivering one of those racist nutter performances that have so boosted the careers of Russell Crowe, Edward Norton, and Tim Roth in the past.

Combo’s attack on Milky was the great tragedy of the film and over the course of This is England 86, 88 and now 90, Meadows has flipped that tragedy on its head. Combo saved Lol from prison in 86 and became a reformed man in 90, only for tragedy to strike again as the cycle of hatred continued to spin.

While racism took a back seat to sexual abuse, depression and drug addiction in the TV series, the shadow of what Combo did to Milky seven years before always loomed and Milky couldn’t ever forget the past. The greatest tragic character of This is England 90 turned out to be the “villain” of the original film: Combo.

So while the This is England saga ended on a tragic note for both Milky and Combo, for many of the other characters things finally ended on a happier note. It was a perfect ending to an era of exceptional film and TV production.

With brilliant scripting and improvisation, stunning performances from all of the cast and some of the most emotional music, much of it from legendary pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi, ever committed to film and TV, I doubt any of the cast will ever get the opportunity to top the work they did here. But I do hope that they get the chance to try, just not in another This is England series please. Let’s leave it on the ridiculously high note of This is England 90.

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