1 9 9 6 – 1 9 9 7 (UK)
32 x 45 minute episodes
A British soap about a group of house-sharing young twentysomething middle-class lawyers – mostly sorted for E’s, whizz, sex, swearing and envy at Porsche-driving thirtysomethings, rather than concerning themselves with the tiresome burden of any actual legal work.
This Life was among the first British productions in the 1990s to take TV drama to a new level, pointing the roving eye of fly-on-the-wall documentaries at scripted performances.
Without traditional blocked-out and rehearsed moves, the cameras struggled to keep up with the actors’ naturalistic movements, creating a fast-moving, energetic show that left some viewers queasy. Much TV is made this way now, but in 1996 it was something special.
Tailor-made for the elusive 16 to 24-year-old viewer demographic, it tried for the stark, catchy visuals of NYPD Blue but failed. It became a major cult show anyway.
The five housemates at Benjamin Street in Southwark knew each other but didn’t necessarily get along. Ambitious and hard-working Milly (Amitra Dhiri) was in a relationship with Egg (Andrew Lincoln), who hated his job and felt directionless until he found his niche in catering.
Egg’s coworker Warren (Jason Hughes) was a naive, closeted gay Welshman, while sparks flew between arrogant and selfish Miles (Jack Davenport) and his ex-girlfriend, impetuous, brash and chaotic Anna (Daniela Nardini).
In its second season, the story opened up to include peripheral characters such as Warren’s cousin Kira (Luisa Bradshaw-White), barrister’s clerk Jo (Steve John Shepherd) – one of Anna’s one night stands – and various other coworkers.
The one-off This Life +10 (2007) reunited the gang for their tenth anniversary, but a decade is a long time on television. Viewers were less likely to be shocked by casual sex and recreational drug use, and the characters had grown up, making the sequel rather tame.
Edgar ‘Egg’ Cook
Steve John Shepherd
Ferdinand ‘Ferdy’ Garcia
Coming Together | Happy Families | Living Dangerously | Sex, Lies and Muesli Yoghurt | Fantasy Football | Family Outing | Brief Encounter | Cheap Thrills | Just Sex | Father Figure | Let’s Get It On || Last Tango in Southwark | Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? | The Bi Who Came in from the Cold | How to Get in Bed by Advertising | Small Town Boyo | Unusual Suspect | He’s Leaving Home | Room with a Queue | Men Behaving Sadly | When the Dope Comes In | She’s Gotta Get It | The Plumber Always Rings Twice | Wish You Were Queer | Who’s That Girl? | From Here to Maternity | One Bedding and a Funeral | The Secret of My Excess | Diet Hard | Milly Liar | Secrets and Wives | Apocalypse Wow!