Before Glee, There Was Blackpool

Yesterday, Lucy March wrote about the fact she’s on the verge of breaking up with Glee. I watched the show the first half of the first season, but didn’t pick it up again after the Christmas break. I love the concept, not just that it’s a glee club (I was a performing arts kid in school, so this is my tribe), but the breaking into song at odd moments as part of the plot.

Before Glee, though, there was a BBC series called Blackpool. It aired in the US on BBC America back in 2005, back when the channel was in its infancy. Starring David Morrisey, Sarah Parish, and David Tennant, the main storyline follows a murder investigation in the resort town of Blackpool. The real fascination is watching these not-very-nice characters circle one another and break into song at the oddest moments. Below is the moment when Ripley Holden’s son Danny attempts to sell some “recreational” substances and finds himself in the middle of a drug bust — all the while singing “The Boy with the Thorn in His Side.”

One of my favorite moments, though, comes at the end of Episode 1 when DI Peter Carlisle (Tennant) confronts Ripley (Morrisey) in his arcade with some uncomfortable questions about the murder, convinced Ripley is lying — which he is. The confrontation takes a musical turn to the tune of Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made For Walking.” There is a tango.

The series won a Peabody award — and sadly isn’t available on DVD in the US. There is YouTube, however, and maybe the BBC will wake up and give the folks in the US a chance to get this without having to buy a region-free DVD player and buying from Amazon.