Review of Blackpool

Television Series (Six Episodes) Written by Peter Bowker and Directed by Coky Giedroyc and Julie Anne Robinson

Originally aired 11 November to 16 December 2004 BBC One


by Monika Lewis

David Tennant is in excellent form in this series as he plays the Detective Inspector Peter Carlisle assigned to solve a murder in an arcade.  The show takes place in the British resort town of Blackpool, where the disreputable arcade owner Ripley Holden, played by David Morrissey, is trying to revitalize the tourist trade by offering amusements and slot machines.  His wife Natalie (Sarah Parish) and young adult children Danny (Thomas Morrison) and Shyanne (Georgia Taylor) have their own preoccupations that they try to keep secret from everyone else. 

Tennant is a dynamic performer (and very fanciable) who shows his charm when meeting Natalie, and their relationship soon develops into an affair, a bit of a conflict of interest in a murder investigation.  He uses his native Scottish accent in the role, emphasizing Carlisle's difference to the inhabitants of Blackpool.  Ripley Holden dreams of turning the town into Las Vegas, his home a tribute to Elvis Presley.  He is plagued by protesters outside his arcade during the grand opening of his arcade, though one protester, Hallworth (David Bradley who plays Argus Filch in the Harry Potter films), stays around and they get to know each other after Ripley's fortunes begin to fall from his high expectations at the beginning of the series.

The series takes on a surreal, musical tone through production numbers set to the original pop and rock music recordings, which the actors sing and dance along with and express the emotions in the scene that are repressed in the dramatic portions of the program.  These numbers are fun to watch and the songs are well chosen to fit the characters' personalities.  Often they are used to show how they are thinking about each other, with verses or lines trading off between them.  In the original series' six episodes (there was also a one off special in 2006 called Viva Blackpool), the plot goes through a lot of twists and turns, suspecting everyone in the crime until the finale.  This engaging drama, with some comic elements, centers on the relationship and conflicts between Ripley and his family, DI Carlisle and the local police officers, and the residents of Blackpool.