This Life

Classic ’90s drama This Life returns this week...

This Life (1996-1997)
This Life (1996-1997)
This Life +10 (2007)
This Life +10 (2007)
Beverly Hills 90210 (1990-2000)
Beverly Hills 90210 (1990-2000)
90210 (2008 onwards)
90210 (2008 onwards)
The Likely Lads (1964-1966)
The Likely Lads (1964-1966)
Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads? (1973-1974)
Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads? (1973-1974)
Doctor Who (1963-1989)
Doctor Who (1963-1989)
Doctor Who (2005 onwards)
Doctor Who (2005 onwards)
Sealab 2020 (1972)
Sealab 2020 (1972)
Sealab 2021 (2000-2005)
Sealab 2021 (2000-2005)
1/10
This Life (1996-1997)

The show: This series about twentysomething lawyers sharing a flat in London started off a critical star and grew into a commercial success as word spread. Gritty, sexy and filled with some of the least likeable characters ever (except the innocent Egg – he was okay), it was gripping TV drama at its best, and creator Amy Jenkins’ decision to end the show after two series was met with an outcry.

This Life +10 (2007)

The return: Given the acclaim that the original series had developed, this 80-minute TV special had big expectations to live up to. So it’s no surprise the UK press were hard on it, claiming that the drama was a little contrived. Were they unduly harsh? Decide for yourself.

Beverly Hills 90210 (1990-2000)

The show: An era-defining slice of slick US entertainment and the spiritual ancestor of The OC, Beverly Hills 90210 spent 10 years looking at the lives and times of pretty young things in LA’s affluent Beverly Hills, making stars out of Jason Priestly, Tori Spelling, Luke Perry and Shannen Doherty in the process. It even starred a young Hilary Swank for a season. The show had two spin-offs, Melrose Place and Models Inc, but disappeared for eight years until…

90210 (2008 onwards)

The return: Though the all-new cast of hot twentysomethings (playing, in true US fashion, improbably old-looking teens) are front-and-centre of this revamped show, it’s the return appearances by the original – but now nipped, tucked, botoxed and butchered – Beverly Hills 90210 cast members that made the headlines. Let their surgery-enhanced grimaces be a stern warning to the youngsters.

The Likely Lads (1964-1966)

The show: A black-and-white comedy about two young lads – middle-class-aspiring Bob (Rodney Bewes) and working-class geezer Terry (James Bolam) – trying to live the swinging ’60s life on a budget of nothing, The Likely Lads was a small hit. However, all but eight episodes were lost by the BBC, and it would have been forgotten if not for…

Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads? (1973-1974)

The return: This series saw Terry returning from years in the army and finding himself both disgusted with, and envious of, his friend’s middle-class suburban lifestyle. Simultaneously hilarious and melancholy, Terry’s failed attempts to fit into middle-class society and Bob’s horror at his friend’s actions proved enormously popular. Sadly a falling-out between Bolam and Bewes put paid to the series.

Doctor Who (1963-1989)

The show: What started off as an educational sci-fi/history series about a time-travelling alien called The Doctor soon turned into a mini-industry. Though remembered fondly for its wobbly sets, low-budget effects and campy air, there were more than a few genuinely good stories in the series’ 26-year run, and it made an icon out of actor Tom Baker, who played the shape-changing Doctor for a record seven years.

Doctor Who (2005 onwards)

The return: Pitched as a sleeker, sexier series inspired by US sci-fi, this return soon turned out to be as campy and wonky as the original. It didn’t help that big-eared oddball Christopher Eccleston stepped in to play The Doctor (then on his ninth incarnation, including a TV movie in 1998). Still, the writing and FX staff settled down and managed to pump out some consistently good stuff. It also made a star of Doc number 10, David Tennant (pictured). Return appearances by intrepid reporter (and favourite of the dads) Sarah Jane Smith – a regular in the Baker days – helped to bring in some of the old fans.

Sealab 2020 (1972)

The show: An eco-themed cartoon from a time when saving the planet was some far-future hippy nonsense and not a terrifying fact of modern living. It focused on an ethnically diverse team of underwater scientists.

Sealab 2021 (2000-2005)

The return: Redubbed – and later re-animated – footage from the ’70s show was used to make this absurd-but-great comedy series based on the premise that a year underwater had driven half the team mad with boredom. The concept soon expanded to a series of ludicrous adventures including zombie attacks, evil feng shui masters and a pastiche of Waking Life.
This Life +10 plays on BBC Entertainment at 12.45am on November 3.

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