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DVD Review

DVD cover

Cradle to Grave
Series One


Starring: Peter Kay, Lucy Speed, Laurie Kynaston, Frankie Wilson and Alice Sykes
Distributor: ITV Studios Global Entertainment
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 26 October 2015

The year is 1974 and fifteen year old Danny Baker lives on a council estate in South London. His mother works at the Peek Freans biscuits factory, and is dad is a docker (who steals the odd shipment to sell on for a profit). With the docks facing imminent closure and Danny older sister planning to marry, money is the families biggest problem. Meanwhile Danny has started to form a crush on his school's photography teacher, but the fact she's French may be leading to a bit of a mix up on her feelings towards him...

Cradle to Grave is based on Danny Baker's autobiographical novel Going to Sea in a Sieve. It follows young Danny as he's at a point in his life where a decision can make or break the way the rest of his life unfolds. Should he stay at school and study hard, or leave to pursue a relationship with a teacher, who has made it clear to him that she can't date pupils.

Peter Kay and Lucy Speed play Danny's parents, who are struggling to make ends meet, despite the fact they both have jobs and "Spud" (Kay) is constantly wheeling and dealing with merchandise he's "acquired" on the job.

Kay can do no wrong in my book (I was there when he stumbled through presenting The Big Breakfast in the late '90s - although there's no mention of him presenting on the BB Wiki page), and true to form he turns in an impressive performance here - part comedy, part straight.

Likewise, the other main cast all turn in above average performances, especially Laurie Kynaston as Danny. Basically, the show rests on his shoulders, so if you don't invest in his portrayal then you're not going to enjoy the show.

The only slight issue I had was that for some unfathomable reason the writers try to tie the episodes together with very loose threads. While this could have worked, if the story arcs were slightly better thought out, what we end up with are hand overs from one episode to the next of storylines that would have worked better as self contained plot points in single episodes. The only time where this works is the impending wedding, because this causes issues for 'Spud' getting together the money to pay for his only daughter's big day, which also dovetails neatly with the ongoing storyline of the dockers taking voluntary redundancy.

Overall, it's an enjoyable comedy with the only real quirk, that sets it aside from other shows in a similar vein, is its '70s setting. The DVD contains no extras.


Darren Rea

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