I have run out of episodes of Between The Lines. Therefore I am now officially in mourning. I tried to spin it out as long as possible, and even stuck to one episode a week for a bit. I ran out anyway. No fair. It's been great, though. It's been years since I last watched it, so some episodes were almost new, in a manner of speaking. New, but very nineties! It's weird revisiting the nineties now. Everybody has a bouffant. Everybody drives a Saab. White boxer shorts are clearly a big thing. And the BBC drama department was single-handedly keeping Britain's cigarette companies solvent. It was all long ago enough to feature early appearances by people who have since gone on to be really famous - and also long ago enough for some of them to have gone even further than that, and dropped out of sight altogether. Almost the entire cast of Soldier Soldier are there in series one, and all of them bent coppers, so clearly the army isn't too picky. Then one episode of series two features both Michael Kitchen and Colin Salmon, which pleased me to a stupid degree. Judi Dench wasn't their boss though, and the episode was about MI5, not MI6. But still. I like it when that sort of thing happens. It amuses me far more than it should.

It really is a good series. Very downbeat at times, and surprisingly funny at others. A good cast too. Tom Georgeson has that brilliant, lived-in look, and he does a lot even with his smallest scenes; and Siobhan Redmond also shines, especially when she's throwing verbal razor blades about the place. Robin Lermitte plays the fabulously smarmy Graves, a role that calls for him to be eminently punchable at all times, but oddly entertaining with it. A shame he quit acting. He reads the weather on ITV these days, which was a heck of a surprise when I first saw him. Still, it's work. Can't argue with that. One of the real stand outs is Tony Doyle's spectacularly dodgy Deakin. Such a great character actor. He died just a few years after the series finished, which was very sad. He certainly can't have been terribly old.

But it's Neal Pearson's show really, and that was part of the fun back in the day, as his other show, Drop The Dead Donkey, would often be airing at the same time of year. So during 1994, for example, you could watch him as Tony Clark, scourge of the underworld, mopping up blood and sleaze on a Wednesday night; and then as Dave Charnley over on Channel 4 the following day. He was taking over the world! (I thought). Ah well. Clearly I shall never be a successful fortune teller. Still, it was fun while it lasted.

But as ever there are downsides to old TV. Never have a stuntman for a hero, people. I know that's not the sort of thing that's likely to be an issue for most of you, but I always did like the behind the scenes stuff. And watching the credits roll during series one, I very much enjoyed seeing the stunt credits go by. But I had forgotten when it was all filmed, and the obvious omission from the credits for series two was a bit of a jolt. I really should be used to that by now, but it seems that I never will be. Ho hum.

Dying gets awfully tedious really, doesn't it. Sooner or later practically everybody does it. Seriously, don't bother. Do something more interesting instead. That's your bit of free advice for the day.

I shall now go in search of more nineties TV. I'm revisiting my university days, apparently. By rights I should be watching all this stuff on a five inch black and white, but sadly it lacks everything bar an aerial socket. If anybody needs me, I shall be in a Saab in 1994, probably obscured by cigarette smoke. Cardiac Arrest next, I think. That way at least medical treatment will be on hand.



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