Why Perri Cummings adores… BRITISH TELLY

26 Aug

We’re back!

Sorry we’ve been away so long — a two-week hiatus turned into four weeks due to unforseen circumstances (read: disorganisation) — but we are back and fully loaded with cinematic/televisual love to share! So, kick your shoes off, stretch out on the recliner, get cosy in the armchair or grab a spot on the floor, order a drink and get ready to get adoring…

This week’s Adorer is none other than PERRI CUMMINGS, a Melbourne-based actor and writer whose credits include CITY HOMICIDE, BLUE HEELERS and NEIGHBOURS, as well as over two decades of professional theatre, from famed physical theatre company Tropic Sun to outdoor Shakespeare theatre company OzAct. Her sporadic musings can be found on this here Twitter feed. Today, Perri lavishes love and affection upon not a single show or genre, but a state of mind…

(Now excuse me while I nick out for a lager and chips, my gyro cheque arrived today…)


Let me clarify: we are not talking about ARE YOU BEING SERVED, or the latest geriatric murder mystery, but I love good English television with a passion that has me constantly checking the BBC website and trawling Amazon UK for my next fix. This addiction started early; I would sneak out of my own bedroom and crawl commando style into my parents room  to watch Monty Python from under their bed. While at University I discovered Mike Leigh’s early work at the BBC and this was the beginning of my real loyalty to great UK telly. I’ve always been a theatre geek and will search out obscure, not-on-DVD television movies and series to watch the likes of David Thewlis, Alison Steadman, Emma Thompson, Ciaran Hinds, David Morrissey, Phillip Glenister and John Simm. If their names appear in the credits, I’ll be there!

But in recent times, my love of the English has been rekindled by the Holy Writing Trinity. The first of whom is Paul Abbott – the creator of the highly underrated CLOCKING OFF – only one season so far has made it to DVD, but I’m still waiting… I’m still waiting! Wonderful working class social realist one hour drama with each episode set around a different person that works in a garment factory. Then, the beautifully dark and funny SHAMELESS; first season still my favorite. Departing from his working class themes, there is the intriguing STATE OF PLAY – but his writing always has a political edge and, here, he gives it free reign. (What the Americans were thinking when they decided to try to make their own version, I do not know. Other than THE OFFICE, I’m not a big fan of the American remakes – worst case scenario being COUPLING, where they kept the lines and removed all the humour! Now I hear they have SPOOKS in their sights – eugh! – Please watch the original, stick with it… it just gets better and better with each season… I’m not addicted… I’m not!!!)  But back to my point. *ahem*

Number two in the Holy Writing Trinity, is the father of social realist English working class TV: Jimmy McGovern. Everything I watch that was created by this man makes me a better writer. It’s all so good that you watch once, immediately rewind and watch again. CRACKER – joyfully dark, with the story coming from the flaws in the characters – so much to love. THE LAKES – a slow build in season one, leading to a must-watch train wreck of a climax, again the characters weaknesses and loyalties are their downfall in such an unexpected yet inevitable way. The second series is lightning fast and really relishes the dark side of the characters, set up in series one. Darker, more tongue in cheek with a touch of the macabre – so good, so very very good! And, of course, THE STREET’s individuals, living in a small suburban street all with a story, an exploration of genre, style, acting – each episode is like a satisfying meal; you have to sit and digest it for a while before you are ready for the next. It’s accumulative storytelling, where you slowly get to know the characters on the street, so each episode has a greater and greater impact. It also has a stellar English cast for each season – including David Thewlis playing identical twins!

The final member of the Holy Writing Trilogy is the magnificent Steven Moffat – you had me at PRESS GANG! A children’s show that I watched and loved as an adult – he wrote every episode and set him up as a storyteller to watch, with a real gift for character-driven comedy and clever machine-gun dialogue reminiscent of a good 1940’s screwball comedy. COUPLING – the sitcom for my vacuous, image obsessed but still completely endearingly clueless generation (X in all it’s befuddled glory). And the magnificent JEKYLL; a classic with a modern sci-fi twist, so theatrical –so much fun. Do I have to say I am hanging out, and I mean checking Amazon every day, for SHERLOCK!

Add to this the odd costume drama that goes beyond pretty words and pretty frocks – my favorite examples are BLEAK HOUSE and NORTH AND SOUTH – although Richard Armitage may have something to do with the latter.

Then there are the clever absurdist comedies – from the Pythons to the TOWERS to the BOOSH to the CROWD. Plus SPACED and GREEN WING, of course.

If you, too, are addicted to yummy UK TV, or can think of a gem I might have missed, twitter me, twitter me now! As I said – I’m not addicted!!!

– Perri Cummings

(Actor and Writer for Australian Telly)

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4 Responses to “Why Perri Cummings adores… BRITISH TELLY”

  1. Simon Miraudo August 27, 2010 at 12:04 pm #

    What, no love for Life on Mars?

    • cinemaviscera August 27, 2010 at 12:18 pm #

      I can tell you for a fact that our Adorer has MASSIVE love for LIFE ON MARS… She’s barely scratched the surface of her adoration here.

      She also digs BEING HUMAN, MISFITS, COLD FEET, CUTTING IT, MISTRESSES, TEACHERS, PSYCHOVILLE, anything with Dawn French…

      Like I said, barely scratched the surface!

      • Simon Miraudo August 27, 2010 at 3:26 pm #

        Phew. I was going to have to recommend you delete this article otherwise.

        Joking – this was tops; as always.

  2. jason September 17, 2010 at 5:26 am #

    i like your blog very much.. and if you love watching movies please check my blog too.. thank you

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