New Manchester School

The rash of talent to emerge from the North West in the last ten years can justifiably be described as a New Manchester School of Comedy, in honour of its Godfather, Harold Brighouse.
Craig Cash is one of its leaders, but it also includes Johnny Vegas, Peter Kay and its’ Patron Saint, Caroline Aherne.
Their speciality seems to be an observational form of satire whose defining characteristic is affectionate cruelty. The creators of The Royle Family obviously love the characters and culture they depict, but are still able to show us the darkest side of them without any reservation.
This is an exremely honest form of satire, and not to be confused with the local talent who makes good and then earns a living providing amusing caricatures of the working class for the amusement of the middle class. There are real emotions on display, and real flaws.
‘Early Doors’, Craig Cash’s latest creation (with Phil Mealey) is a classic of this school, and should be part of the GCSE curriculum. Its’ second series, to be broadcast next monday, is eagerly awaited by those in the know.
In some ways it is even better than The Royle Family. It relies less on the grotesque for its effects, and, partly because of its setting – a pub – has a broader palette.
The cinematography is therefore more varied, from the intimacy of Jean’s Prayer (in which she actually manages to patronise God over his creation of Crete: ‘Well done.’ she says) to the Joycean time-collapsing chaos of the Big Boys’ Beano, which manages to compress an entire day’s revelry into one shot, beginning in the morning with them leaving the pub singing De Camptown Ladies and then tracking round to their arrival after midnight by the side door singing SEX BOMB! SEX BOMB! YOU’RE MY SEX BOMB!
The dialogue is also tighter than the RF, probably because there has to be more of it, and definitely tighter than Peter Kays ‘Phoenix Nights’, which is a more comedy-driven creation.
It should be up there with the new season Sopranos or The Simpson’s debut on Channel 4.
“Well done.”

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