Years and Years sees Russell T Davies take on dystopian near-future sci-fi to startling effect
“We’re not stupid, we’re not poor, we’re not lacking. I’m sorry, but we’re clever. We can think of something, surely.”
What if…? What if…? What Brexit happens, what if Trump is voted in again and fires a nuclear bomb towards China, what if global warming happens today and not tomorrow, what if Lee from Steps is the most successful one…? Such is the world of Years and Years, Russell T Davies’ latest TV venture, a six-part drama that dares to ask what if it is already too late.
He uses the Lyons family as a prism to explore what the next 15 years of human history might look like, as technological advances make leaps and bounds alongside the political and social upheaval that strikes at the very heart of this sprawing middle-class Manchester-based family. It’s a daring piece of drama, full of Davies’ typically big heart and bold emotional colours and I have to say I rather loved it.
Perfectly cast from top to bottom, Years and Years revels in the depth of its relationships. Anne Reid’s matriarch is a force of nature and tracing her relationship with daughter-in-law Celeste (an excellent T’Nia Miller) is one of the show’s absolute high points. And Russell Tovey and Maxim Baldry also impress in giving us a passionate gay relationship riven by an immigration crisis and full of breathless, tragic emotion.
Alongside the family drama, the rise of Emma Thompson’s Vivienne Rook decries the way we’ve let populist politicians encroach into the mainstream, a thread that slowly winds ever closer to the Lyons personally. If anything, it is the technological advances that don’t quite convince in the same way (there’s something scarier about human behaviour), particularly as they’re focused in on a small sub-section of the cast, rather than explored more fully by everyone.
I liked seeing the likes of Jodie Prenger and Noel Sullivan pop up and playing against their public images, and Jessica Hynes and Sharon Duncan-Brewster deliver a slow burn of a romance that thrills. The gay agenda thrives… 😉