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|Created by||Amy Jenkins|
Steve John Shepherd
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||2|
|No. of episodes||33 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||50 minutes|
|Original network||BBC Two|
|Original release||18 March 1996 –|
7 August 1997
This Life is a BBC television drama that was produced by World Productions and screened on BBC Two. Two series were broadcast in 1996 and 1997, with a later reunion special in 2006. It centres on the life of twentysomething law graduates embarking upon their careers while sharing a house in south London. Unusually for a show about lawyers, there are no courtroom scenes in either the first or second series, and only one brief scene in the TV sequel.
Broadcast during the height of "Cool Britannia", the series is set in London and is notable for its Britpop soundtrack and for its depiction of casual sex and drug-taking. It became a popular word-of-mouth hit and was included on BFI's list of the 100 greatest British television programmes of all time.
The series was created by Amy Jenkins who was also its principal writer. Other writers contributed scripts, including Joe Ahearne (who also directed some episodes—the only person to do both on the series), Ian Iqbal Rashid, Amelia Bullmore, and Matthew Graham. Tony Garnett was the executive producer and Jane Fallon worked as a producer on both series.
When the first series was screened it was a modest critical success. Nevertheless, the original production agreement secured a second series. In the lead-up to the broadcast of the second series, the entire first series was repeated, helping to generate a critical buzz around the programme, to the point that millions of viewers were waiting to discover the ultimate resolutions to the various plot-lines and generating front-page newspaper coverage.
The original run of the first series in 1996 was neither a critical nor a ratings success. It was only its repeat run of the first series, beginning 2 January 1997, then every Wednesday evening from 3 January in a post-Newsnight slot that the show really began to attract serious, but still relatively moderate, viewer attention. This rerun ran smoothly into the start of the new second series, from Monday, 17 March 1997, restored to its peak-time slot, by which time it was attracting praise as a cult hit. By the time the second series ended, the show was attracting strong audience figures for a BBC Two show of around four million, and became a national talking point, regularly making headlines in both tabloid and broadsheet newspapers.
Both of the series were then repeated late-night from 12 June to 2 August 2000 (each episode was shown twice during the first run). The lack of repeats was mainly due to the high VHS sales during the late 1990s. Another screening of the first series only was shown on Sunday evenings between 30 March and 13 July 2003. As a run-in to the reunion, the BBC repeated every episode, two each night Monday to Thursday, starting 6 November 2006, on BBC Two. As of March 2013, the entire series including This Life +10 and That Life (a short documentary about the reunion special) has been made available via Virgin On Demand. From 3 February 2020, series one of This Life was repeated on BBC4, carrying a dedication to its executive producer Tony Garnett who had died aged 83 during the previous month.
- The opening scenes show the house as being on Benjamin Street, which is in EC1 in Clerkenwell. However, the building is actually Anchor Terrace, a terraced house on Southwark Bridge Road. As the characters are often seen commuting from South London it is unclear why the Benjamin Street sign was filmed. The house has since been converted into luxury flats.
- The law firm's offices were filmed on High Holborn near the junction with Chancery Lane. The waiting room in which Egg's first interview takes place is in Norwich Street at the City law firm Macfarlanes. The location for external shots of Moore Spencer Wright is at the bottom end of Borough High Street, now the FTC Kaplan offices.
- The barristers’ chambers external shots were filmed outside Verulam Buildings on Gray's Inn Road, part of Gray's Inn; the interior scenes were filmed in the Anchor Terrace house (see above).
- The cafe that Egg works in, and later runs, is on Victoria Road in North Acton next to the Tube station.
- The cafe where the characters are often seen having lunch was just further down Southwark Bridge Road from the Anchor Terrace house (on the same side). It was called the Island Cafe.
- The job centre Egg visits is on Borough High Street, Southwark, London.
- Miles's country house in the 2007 reunion (Whithurst Park in Sussex) is the same location used in the first episode of the first series of Lewis, "To Whom the Gods Would Destroy".
Series one (1996)
Egg and Milly have been dating since they were at university, but their career choices create tension between them. Conscientious Milly is ambitious, spending a lot of time working with her older boss Mr O'Donnell. Egg suffers a crisis of dissatisfaction with a career in law, and soon resigns from the firm.
Anna and Miles had a brief fling at university, and Anna is fixated on the indifferent Miles. Their love–hate relationship makes their work and home life frequently tense.
The other housemate Warren is a gay man. He spends some time dealing with issues around his sexuality, especially in relation to "coming out" to friends and family. In an unusual (at the time) plot device he is frequently seen discussing his feelings with a therapist who is heard and only rarely seen by the viewer.
Miles appears sometimes to dislike Warren, and subjects him to occasional homophobic abuse when angered. Miles's manipulative girlfriend, the drug addicted and bulimic Delilah, moves in with him. This results in conflict in the house. When Miles, who has not been practising safe sex with Delilah, discovers that she is still sleeping with her heroin addict ex, Truelove, he has an HIV scare. Milly clashes with Egg over his perceived lack of ambition, and becomes attracted to O'Donnell.
|Count||episode title||Writer||Director||Original airdate|
|1 (1x1)||"Coming Together"||Amy Jenkins||Sam Miller||18 March 1996|
Three twenty-something lawyers, Miles, Milly and her boyfriend Egg, share a house in London and are looking for two new lodgers. Anna, a former one-night stand of Miles’s arrives for an interview at his firm. She and Milly are old friends and Anna moves in, to Miles's annoyance, since he has already attempted unsuccessfully to reignite their relationship. At Milly's firm, both Egg and another newly-qualified student, Warren are hired.Guest Cast:Su Elliott (Maggie), Charles Harrison (Osteopath), Susan Tordoff (Personnel Officer)
|2 (1x2)||"Happy Families"||Amy Jenkins||Sam Miller||25 March 1996|
Working with Warren is beginning to irritate Egg, and matters aren't helped when the others offer Warren the remaining room in the house. Miles falls for a client of Anna's; Delilah – an out of work model, also a drug addict. Warren is panicked when his cousin Kira begins to work at the firm, due to his fear of his family discovering that he is gay.Guest cast: Charlotte Bicknell (Delilah), Keith-Lee Castle (Truelove), Sacha Craise (Kelly), Nicholas Sidi (Solicitor)
|3 (1x3)||"Living Dangerously"||Amy Jenkins||Sam Miller||1 April 1996|
Anna is annoyed that Miles has moved Delilah into the house, although Miles accuses Anna of jealousy. Egg gets friendly with a client who has cancer but is devastated when he dies. Warren realises Delilah is bulimic and tries to help by lending her money, which she then spends on drugs. The house is later burgled, with the others pointing the finger at her.Guest Cast: Charlotte Bicknell (Delilah), Keith-Lee Castle (Truelove), Simon Kunz (McCleary), Tara Williams (Doorgirl)
|4 (1x4)||"Sex, Lies and Muesli Yoghurt"||Richard Zajdlic||Audrey Cooke||8 April 1996|
Delilah continues to cause upset in the house, particularly with Warren and Anna. Egg meanwhile is becoming increasingly frustrated with his job in comparison to Warren who is relishing it. Delilah moves out, to Anna's glee and Miles's annoyance. Warren informs Miles that he should take an HIV test due to having had unprotected sex with Delilah, while she was also sleeping with her drug-addicted boyfriend.Guest Cast: Charlotte Bicknell (Delilah), Keith-Lee Castle (Truelove), Sacha Craise (Kelly) Ralph Ineson (Jessop)
|5 (1x5)||"Fantasy Football"||Richard Zajdlic||Audrey Cooke||15 April 1996|
Increasingly frustrated with work, Egg loses his sex drive. Miles frets about the possibility that he may be HIV positive and along with Warren tracks Delilah down in order for her to take a test. Anna, worried about her lack of assignments, attempts to network at a party to little success. Delilah's results prove negative, while after some soul searching, Egg quits his job at the firm.Guest Cast: Charlotte Bicknell (Delilah), Christopher Bramwell (Mr. Webb), Keith-Lee Castle (Truelove), Clare Clifford (Sarah Newley), Michael Elwyn (Montgomery), Maria McErlane (Mrs Webb)
|6 (1x6)||"Family Outing"||Patrick Wilde||Audrey Cooke||22 April 1996|
Concerned for Milly and Egg, Anna and Warren organise a special dinner for them. Working on a big case, Miles reluctantly enlists his father for help to no avail. Much to Warren's initial worry, Kira discovers that he is gay, but promises not to tell their family. Later, Warren's brother Dale visits.Guest Cast: Richard Cant (Phil), Paul Cottingham (Man in Park), Michael Elwyn (Montgomery), Mark Lewis Jones (Dale)
|7 (1x7)||"Brief Encounter"||Patrick Wilde||Audrey Cooke||29 April 1996|
In attempt to bond, Miles's father helps him with his case. With Milly concerned about Egg's lack of ambition, he announces that he's going to write a novel. Warren meets up with Dale for a drink, but declines to tell him that he's gay. Anna has a one-night stand with colleague Jo, which he mistakenly believes is the beginning of a relationship.Guest Cast: Michael Elwyn (Montgomery), Mark Lewis Jones (Dale), Nicholas Palliser (Rattigan)
|8 (1x8)||"Cheap Thrills"||Matthew Graham||Nigel Douglas||6 May 1996|
Egg starts a job in telesales, but gets fired within the same day. Anna, in attempt for work, socialises at her boss's birthday party. She manages to clear things with Jo, who had been very hostile towards her. Egg's father, Jerry arrives at the house with the news that he has split from his wife.Guest Cast: Chris Crooks (Muldoon), Paul Copley (Jerry)
|9 (1x9)||"Just Sex"||Matthew Graham||Nigel Douglas||13 May 1996|
Warren meets up with a motorcycle courier, Ferdy and has sex with him. Jerry tells Egg that he's written a novel which has received interest, Egg meanwhile goes to the job centre in an attempt to find work. Milly is working late again, but fails to notice that her boss is paying her much interest. Warren, having immediately fallen in love is shocked when Ferdy tells him that he's straight and is engaged to be married. Warren finally tells Dale that he's gay.Guest Cast: Paul Copley (Jerry), Mark Lewis Jones (Dale), Charlotte Longfield (Woman at Job Centre), Ramon Tikaram (Ferdy)
|10 (1x10)||"Father Figure"||Amy Jenkins||Nigel Douglas||20 May 1996|
As Milly and O'Donnell are coming back from a meeting, a man on rollerblades knocks Milly over. O'Donnell punches him and Milly subsequently begins to form a crush. Egg becomes frustrated by his lack of work and gets annoyed with his father who is still staying in the house. Miles defends a client who has been charged with indecent exposure. Anna believes the man to be innocent until he confronts her in the toilet and exposes himself. Later, after talking Anna and Jerry end up in bed together. Milly goes out to dinner with O'Donnell, but resists the temptation of taking it further.Guest Cast: Paul Copley (Jerry), Stuart Organ (Monk), Saul Reichlin (Pemberton)
|11 (1x11)||"Let's Get It On"||Amy Jenkins||Nigel Douglas||3 June 1996|
Milly is confused by her feelings about O'Donnell as Egg becomes suspicious. Together they see a counsellor. Anna continues her relationship with Jerry and they go out on a drug-fuelled night together. The following day Anna is shocked to discover that her client is the drug dealer from the night before. Warren talks to Dale, but Dale refuses to accept that Warren is gay. Jerry throws a party at the house to celebrate that his book is to be published. Milly and Egg make up, while Anna begins to reconsider her feelings for Miles.Guest Cast: Paul Copley (Jerry), Mark Lewis Jones (Dale), Roger McClennahan (Roy)
Series two (1997)
During the second series, storylines were expanded to include other connected characters. These included Ferdy (Ramon Tikaram), briefly Warren's boyfriend; Rachel (Natasha Little) a new junior trainee at Milly's law firm; and Francesca, Miles's girlfriend and later fiancée. Previously secondary characters Jo (Steve John Shepherd) and Warren's cousin, Kira (Luisa Bradshaw-White) feature more heavily as they embarked upon a relationship. Moore Spencer Wright receptionist Kelly (Sacha Craise) also became much more prominent and a close ally of Kira. Ferdy was a bisexual character, seen as a replacement for Warren when Jason Hughes decided to leave the show (he did return for the final scene). Finding a relationship with Anna impossible, Miles began a relationship with Francesca, a woman nearly a decade older than he was. Miles proposed to Francesca, but still harboured feelings for Anna.
Rachel had a long-running passive-aggressive feud with Milly, although on the surface the pair were able to work together without mention of their mutual dislike. Milly's dislike of Rachel was very strong, viewing her as a threat to her relationship with O'Donnell, and disliking her apparently perfect demeanour. Milly confided in Anna that she found Rachel almost suffocatingly "nice". The tension between the two went unresolved throughout the second series, culminating in the final scene, in the episode "Apocalypse Wow!". At Miles and Francesca's wedding reception, after Milly learns that Rachel has told Egg of her affair with O'Donnell, Milly punches Rachel in the face.
|Count||episode Title||Writer||Director||Original airdate|
|12 (2x1)||"Last Tango in Southwark"||Richard Zajdlic||Sallie Aprahamian||17 March 1997|
Miles and Anna have spent the night together after the party. Warren nurses a hangover, as a new trainee, Rachel, arrives at the office. Jerry decides to move out and Egg wishes him the best of luck. Miles and Anna agree to meet for a drink to discuss their relationship, but Anna is furious when she finds him talking to another woman.Guest Cast: Paul Copley (Jerry), Martin Freeman (Stuart), Mike Hayward (Leonard Ryder), Georgia Reece (Mrs. Reid)
|13 (2x2)||"Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?"||Richard Zajdlic||Sallie Aprahamian||24 March 1997|
Anna is co-defending with Miles in a court case. Anna gets her client to change his plea without telling Miles, and Miles’s client carries the can, much to his annoyance. Kira is angry that Kelly has returned to work and taken her job back as receptionist. Warren is surprised when Ferdy calls to the house. He tells him that the wedding never took place due to his fiancée finding out that he was bisexual. Warren allows him to stay at the house for a while.Guest Cast: Michael Begley (Terry Cole), Martin Hancock (Philip Becks), Julia Worsley (Tania Johnson)
|14 (2x3)||"The Bi Who Came in From the Cold"||Matthew Graham||Sallie Aprahamian||31 March 1997|
The housemates come to an agreement that Egg can cook for them by paying him for groceries each week. Egg loses the money at the bookmakers and claims that he was mugged. Ferdy is still upset at having split from his fiancée, although Warren is adamant that he is gay. Anna, now up for tenancy at her chambers, has not impressed the other barristers with her underhand tactics against Miles. Egg applies for a job as a chef.Guest Cast: James Bowers (Mick), Richard Dixon (Angus)
|15 (2x4)||"How to Get in Bed by Advertising"||Matthew Graham||Dominic Lees||7 April 1997|
Miles has placed a lonely hearts advert in a magazine and sets himself up on some dates – with limited success. Egg is enjoying his new job at the café working with a girl called Nicki. Warren is frustrated with Ferdy staying at the house as Ferdy is showing no interest in him. To relieve his anguish he goes to the local park to pick up a man, but is arrested by the police.Guest Cast: Steph Bramwell (Mrs. Cochrane), Andrew Charleson (Dougie), Liz Izen (Cora), Janine Wood (Judy)
|16 (2x5)||"Small Town Boyo"||Mark Davies Markham||Dominic Lees||14 April 1997|
Warren tells O'Donnell what has happened, but as a reporter shows up at the office, O'Donnell becomes uneasy about the bad publicity. Anna assists Miles on a case and helps him to win. With Warren's story in the newspaper O'Donnell asks him to consider handing in his resignation. When Warren refuses, O'Donnell is forced to sack him.Guest Cast: Benedict Sandiford (Brian), Danielle Tarento (Mia), Paul Medford (Paul)
|17 (2x6)||"Unusual Suspect"||Mark Davies Markham||Dominic Lees||21 April 1997|
Warren attends a line-up and is being defended by Milly. Kira has asked Jo out, but she has a plan to play hard to get. Egg is paranoid that Nicki fancies him and feels awkward when they go out for a drink together until she tells him that he's not her type. O'Donnell tells Milly that she must drop Warren's case. Milly passes it onto Anna, who gets him off with a small fine.Guest Cast: Mark Lewis Jones (Dale), Rod Arthur (Hughie Slater), Steph Bramwell (Mrs. Cochrane), Colin MacLachlan (I.D. Inspector), Michael Moreland (Police Officer), Christopher Staines (Dex)
|18 (2x7)||"He's Leaving Home"||Joe Ahearne||Joy Perino||28 April 1997|
Warren has decided to leave and travel the world – beginning with Australia. Egg discovers that Nicki has a five-year-old son. The others begin to discuss whom to rent Warren's room out to. Milly is angered when Rachel is suggested, due to her increasing dislike of her co-worker. Dale calls to see Warren, but they are unable to reconcile their differences. Later, a farewell party is thrown for Warren before he sets off on his travels the following morning.Guest Cast: Steph Bramwell (Mrs. Cochrane), Mark Lewis Jones (Dale), Paul Medford (Paul)
|19 (2x8)||"Room With a Queue"||Ian Iqbal Rashid||Joy Perino||8 May 1997|
An advert is placed in the local newspaper for a new housemate. A number of people are interviewed but none of them are deemed suitable. Miles calls Rachel to tell her to move in, but when Milly finds out she is annoyed and tells Ferdy he can have the room. Kira and Jo go out on a date, and Kira's hard to get act is making Jo eager for more.Guest Cast: Nitin Chandra Ganatra (Salim), Jackie Stirling (Muriel)
|20 (2x9)||"Men Behaving Sadly"||Ian Iqbal Rashid||Joy Perino||15 May 1997|
Now that Rachel has been told that she hasn't got the room, she tries to avoid Miles' advances. Egg begins to become more involved with his work, working longer hours. He has introduced Milly to Nicki and has met her son. Ferdy meets up with his ex-fiancée and asks if he can call round to collect his belongings. He is shocked when he discovers that she is now living with an ex-co-worker of his. Ferdy leaves the flat in rage and smashes up the man's car.Guest Cast: Clare Clifford (Sarah Newley), Danny Midwinter (Seb), Greg Prentice (George), Danielle Tarento (Mia), Richard Zajdlic (Man)
|21 (2x10)||"When the Dope Comes In"||Amelia Bullmore||Harry Bradbeer||22 May 1997|
O'Donnell asks Milly to go to Paris with him on a Conference. Milly agonises over her decision, but ultimately declines. Ferdy gets some hashish and while he's out of the house, the Police call to question him about the smashing-up of the car. Miles and Egg, who is stoned, are left to deal with them. On returning, Ferdy lies and gives Miles and Egg as alibis, much to Miles' fury.Guest Cast: Alan Stocks (Police Officer)
|22 (2x11)||"She's Gotta Get It"||Amelia Bullmore||Harry Bradbeer||29 May 1997|
Miles is suspicious about lesbian solicitor Sarah Newley who is sending a lot of work Anna's way. Jo and Kira finally cement their relationship by having sex. Ferdy goes out clubbing with the effeminate Paul, but decides it is not his scene. Egg meets up with his father, who tells him that he's getting back with his mother. The vote for Anna's tenancy takes place and after an anguished wait, she's told that she has it. The housemates celebrate, unaware that Miles voted against her.Guest Cast: Paul Copley (Jerry), Michael Elwyn (Montgomery), Clare Clifford (Sarah), Paul Medford (Paul), Helene Kvale (Caroline)
|23 (2x12)||"The Plumber Always Rings Twice"||Eirene Houston||Harry Bradbeer||5 June 1997|
With O'Donnell and Rachel back from Paris, Milly is finding herself jealous. A handyman, Lenny calls round to fix the broken boiler in the house. Ferdy falls for him and they end up in bed together. Miles' father calls round regarding his impending wedding, but Miles refuses to go until Anna talks him round.Guest Cast: Tony Curran (Lenny), Steph Bramwell (Mrs. Cochrane), Michael Elwin (Montgomery), Gregg Prentice (George)
|24 (2x13)||"Wish You Were Queer"||Annie Caulfield||Sallie Aprahamian||12 June 1997|
Miles has met a woman and embarked on a relationship. Anna discovers that Miles voted against her in the tenancy and is angry with him. Sarah Newley congratulates Anna on her tenancy and admits she has fallen in love with her. Anna kisses her, but can't bring herself to go any further. Egg throws a themed Mexican night in the café.Guest Cast: Clare Clifford (Sarah)
|25 (2x14)||"Who's That Girl?"||Annie Caulfield||Sallie Aprahamian||19 June 1997|
Miles introduces the others to his girlfriend, Francesca. Kira and Jo have sex, but Jo is panicked after his condom comes off. Milly's dislike of Rachel is intensifying and she has a row with her in the office. The housemates find out about Ferdy and Lenny's relationship. Meanwhile, Miles announces his engagement.Guest Cast: Tony Curran (Lenny), Rachel Fielding (Francesca)
|26 (2x15)||"From Here to Maternity"||Jimmy Gardner||Sallie Aprahamian||26 June 1997|
Jo continues to fret that Kira may be pregnant. Anna is given an important case, working alongside an experienced colleague. The owner of the café tells Egg and Nicki that she's putting it up for sale. Egg looks into buying the lease and persuades Miles' father to be his guarantor. Milly finally gives into her feelings and sleeps with O'Donnell. Anna receives news that her mother has died, but she shows little grief.Guest Cast: Tony Curran (Lenny)
|27 (2x16)||"One Bedding and a Funeral"||Jimmy Gardner||Joe Ahearne||3 July 1997|
Egg's teenage brother Nat arrives for a holiday. Anna is ready to go to her mother's funeral, but decides not to bother. Kira gets her period, much to Jo's relief that she's not pregnant, but she breaks off the relationship. Her colleague Kelly subsequently tries to chat him up, but after she is turned down, she sleeps with Nat.Guest Cast: Damian Zuk (Nat)
|28 (2x17)||"The Secret of My Excess"||William Gaminara||Joe Ahearne||10 July 1997|
After a drunken night, Anna wakes up late for work and an important meeting with Graham. She attempts to get herself together by taking cocaine, but is later found out by Graham. With her career in jeopardy she is taken off the case. She later confides in Miles and admits she misses her mother. They end up sleeping together, despite Francesca being in Miles' bed upstairs. Miles goes in to Chambers and makes a plea for Anna's behaviour saying that she is still grieving. Egg is excited about the opening of the café, while Milly obsesses about her relationship with O'Donnell.Guest Cast: Rachel Fielding (Francesca), Lauretta Gavin (Girl)
|29 (2x18)||"Diet Hard"||William Gaminara||Joe Ahearne||17 July 1997|
The café opens to little success, leaving Egg deflated. Milly starts to see a counsellor about her troubles. As a condition to keeping her job, Anna is instructed to attend Alcoholics Anonymous, but she finds it of little help. Ferdy is unsettled by Lenny's plan of introducing him to his family and ends up sleeping with a woman. The next morning Miles informs her of his sexual orientation and Ferdy thumps him.Guest Cast: Tony Curran (Lenny), Daisy Beaumont (Gina), Kathleen McGoldrick (Lizzie)
|30 (2x19)||"Milly Liar"||Joe Ahearne||Morag Fullarton||24 July 1997|
Miles and Graham win the case on the back of the work Anna had done. She declines to celebrate with them. Ferdy and Lenny make up as do Ferdy and Miles. Milly's relationship with O'Donnell continues, but becomes ever more complicated. Anna finds out and during an argument, tells Milly that she doesn't approve because of Egg.Guest Cast: Tony Curran (Lenny), Rachel Fielding (Francesca)
|31 (2x20)||"Secrets and Wives"||Richard Zajdlic||Morag Fullarton||31 July 1997|
Milly is surprised when O'Donnell's wife shows up at the office, but O'Donnell reassures her that they have separated. Anna continues to give Milly the cold shoulder. Miles' stag party comes around and he celebrates with the housemates, including Anna. Later, he tells Anna that he loves her and is willing to call off the wedding if she wants. Spying on O'Donnell, Milly sees that his marital relationship is far from over.Guest Cast: Tony Curran (Lenny), Rachel Fielding (Francesca)
|32 (2x21)||"Apocalypse Wow!"||Richard Zajdlic||Morag Fullarton||7 August 1997|
Milly is furious that O'Donnell has lied to her and ends their relationship. She makes up with Anna, who confides in her about Miles. Jo invites Kira to the wedding and she accepts. The wedding day arrives and as Anna refuses to reveal to Miles that she does indeed love him, it goes ahead. Egg asks Milly to marry him and she happily accepts. At the reception Rachel enquires to Milly about the now-spare room. Milly tells her that she has never liked her and that she will not be moving in. Rachel subsequently tells Egg about Milly and O'Donnell's affair. Egg is devastated and in fury breaks up with Milly. Ferdy has invited Lenny to the wedding and he tells him that he loves him. Milly realises that Rachel has spilled the beans and walks up to her and whacks her across the face in front of everyone. Warren arrives unseen during the ensuing fracas, declaring the scene "outstanding".Guest Cast: Tony Curran (Lenny), Michael Elwyn (Montgomery), Rachel Fielding (Francesca)
This Life + 10 (2006)
In 2006, the BBC reconvened the original cast for a special one-off 80-minute special, looking at what had happened to the lead characters in the intervening ten years. The episode begins with the original five housemates reuniting for Ferdy's funeral. Milly and Egg are together, though not married, and have had a young son but Miles is divorced from Francesca and has a new Vietnamese wife, Me Linh. The circumstances of both Ferdy's death and Miles' divorce are not revealed.
This new episode was entitled + 10 onscreen, and kept the original title sequence and programme title This Life. It was screened on 2 January 2007, and was a co-production between BBC Wales and the original producers World Productions. This Life + 10 was written by Jenkins, directed by Ahearne and produced by Garnett. It gained 3.5 million viewers, with a 14% audience share.
|33||"+ 10"||Amy Jenkins||Joe Ahearne||2 January 2007|
The group meet again at Ferdy's funeral. Egg, now a successful author, is being filmed by a documentary-maker who is eager to meet the people behind the inspirations for Egg's novel (a fictionalised account of life in Benjamin Street). She suggests that the group should stage a reunion, which she will film. The reunion is arranged at Miles's mansion in Sussex, where he lives with his Vietnamese second wife Me Linh. Anna, still a barrister, visits a sperm bank, but is told there is a five-year waiting list. Milly and Egg's relationship survived her affair with O'Donnell and they now have a three-year-old son called Oscar. Milly, now a full-time mother, is not entirely happy with the sacrifice of her career for motherhood, and faces hostility from Anna. Warren, boasting of his "life-affirming" therapy venture is secretly battling depression. Me Linh leaves Miles and it becomes apparent that his business has failed as the bailiffs move in. Milly tells Egg that she wants to break up with him, but her feelings change when Egg decides to abandon the documentary and quits his career as a writer. Warren agrees to have a baby with Anna, and a penniless Miles decides to go travelling.Guest Cast: Jodie Whittaker (Clare), Linh Dan Pham (Me-Linh), Deborah Findlay (Doctor), Nick Sampson (Priest), Mark Lawson (Interviewer), James Greene (Judge), Joanne McQuinn (Audience Member), Nicholas Beveney (Bailiff), Shakeel Orr-Deen (Oscar), Stephen Humby (Passer By)
- The Office and Sherlock star Martin Freeman appears in the first episode of the second series, pictured stealing money from Milly and Egg's bedroom after a party, and accidentally drinking Egg's urine from a can, believing it to be beer.
- Ralph Ineson, also from The Office featured in an early episode as a client of Milly, as the character Jessop.
- EastEnders actor Nitin Ganatra, appeared in an episode of the second series playing a prospective housemate who manages to upset Milly.
- Another later well-known actor appearing early in the second series is Martin Hancock, who went on to star in Coronation Street as Spider, followed by Holby City as Reg Lund.
- Clare Clifford, played lesbian lawyer Sarah Newly who propositions Anna in five episode of the second series.
- Stuart Organ, best known as Mr Robson in Grange Hill appeared as a flasher in the first series.
This Life initially featured a core cast of five main characters sharing a rented house in Southwark with a supporting cast drawn from their professional and private lives.
- Egg (series 1-2 & +10 special)
Born Edgar Cook in Manchester, Egg is an English graduate with a conversion in Law and is in a full time relationship with girlfriend Milly. At the beginning of the series he interviews, and is successful, in gaining a junior position with solicitors firm Moore Spencer Wright. Egg met Millie at university and they have been in a solid relationship since then. In the first series, Egg struggles to fit in at his legal firm, feeling demotivated by the tedium of the job. Early in the series, he is assigned one of his boss’ clients as a case, but the client, who has cancer, dies by unexpectedly taking his own life and Egg realises Law is not for him, quitting the firm midway through series 1. After brief stints attempting to write a novel and working at telesales (before he is fired for going off-script after only one day on the job), Egg finds his passion early in series 2 when he gets a job in a café working alongside single mum Nicki; enjoying the work, despite the low pay, Egg decides to purchase the café after its owner Mrs Cochrane moves to Ireland and puts it up for sale. Egg also has challenges with his family- his father Jerry visits from Manchester and reveals that his mother has been having an affair with a family friend, although they are later reconciled in the second series. It is revealed also that Egg is a keen football fan and supports Manchester United. Egg’s relationship with Milly is initially strained in the first series- she is unhappy with his lack of motivation and being the sole breadwinner after he quits his job, although they rekindle their passion after a therapy session and has sex for the first time in months in the final episode of series 1. Throughout the second series, Egg spends less time with Milly due to their increased time at their respective jobs. Milly begins an affair with O’Donnell, which is revealed via Rachel at the climax of the second series at Miles’ wedding; a devastated Egg split from Milly.
10 years later, Egg is a successful author and he and Milly have reconciled and have a young son called Oscar. Milly and Egg again are close to separation, but a series of events make them realise they deeply care for each other and they remain married.
- Milly (series 1-2 & +10 special)
Jamilla Nassim was born in Barnet to an Indian emigrant family and, whilst studying for a Law degree, met Egg and they began a relationship. Milly is, at the beginning of the series, a solicitor who has just completed her final training and is a junior partner at Moore Spencer Wright. Milly is hardworking and, despite her relative youth and ethnic background, is keen to secure the best outcomes for her clients. When Egg quits the firm midway through the first series, Milly finds it hard to deal with his apathetic attitude and harbours romantic thoughts towards her boss Michael O’Donnell. At the climax of the first series, Egg and Milly visit a therapist and initially resolve their differences.
In the first episode of the second series, Milly meets a new trainee at her firm, Rachel. Initially put out that she wasn’t informed the firm was getting a trainee, Milly and Rachel form an uneasy working relationship, although Milly finds Rachel’s extremely positive demeanour irritating and is jealous of the relationship she has with her boss. After a brief romantic encounter at the end of the first series, Milly embarks on a full-blown affair with O’Donnell in the latter half of the second series, but the relationship ends when she discovers he has lied about separating from his wife.
Throughout the second series, the underlying tensions between Milly and Rachel increase- after Warren leaves early in the second series, Rachel wants to move into the shared house that Milly and the others live in which Milly is deeply opposed to. After Miles marries Francesca, Rachel enquires again about the possibility of moving into the shared house, at which point Milly reveals her complete antipathy towards Rachel. Rachel gains revenge by telling Egg about the affair between Milly and O’Donnell, at which point Milly marches across the dancefloor and punches Rachel in the face.
10 years later, Milly and Egg are married with a young son called Oscar. Milly is resentful at having given up a promising career in Law to raise Oscar, whilst Egg has become a successful writer. Although initially planning to separate from Egg, she later reverses her decision and they remain together at the close of the series.
- Anna (series 1-2 & +10 special)
Anna Forbes was originally born in a Glasgow. It is revealed in the first episode that her childhood was difficult, with an alcoholic mother who neglected her frequently. Despite her difficult upbringing, Anna is a tenacious, charismatic and talented barrister, albeit one who frequently takes risks on behalf of her clients. In the first series, Anna interviews for a position at chambers but is unsuccessful. Nonetheless, chambers clerk Jo suggests that she ‘squat’ and undertake supplementary work and unwanted cases in order to earn an income. Anna moves into the shared house and is reunited with her former boyfriend Miles whom she dated at university. The on/off relationship between Miles and Anna is one of the main storylines that runs throughout the entire series. Anna and Miles initially reunite as friends, although Anna is uncomfortable early in the first series when Miles is dating drug addict and thief Delilah and helps to sabotage the relationship. Near the end of the first series, Anna sleeps with Egg’s father Jerry although at a house party to celebrate his book being accepted by a publisher, she hides from him and ends up sleeping with Miles. At the beginning of the second series, Anna sees Miles talking to another woman at a bar and, misunderstanding the situation, thinks he is cheating on her and promptly dumps him.
The head of chambers, James Hooperman, decides to hold a vote on Anna’s tenancy midway through series 2. The majority of the chambers partners vote in favour of Anna gaining a tenancy, partly because Anna has been successful at getting extra work from the law firm Rankin-Jamall. The increased work is, in part, due to Anna flirting with Rankin-Jamall lesbian barrister Sarah Newley and, although the relationship never progresses and further, some of the partners at chambers remain sceptical about Anna’s abilities as a barrister, in particular Miles (who doesn’t support her tenancy vote) and Graham (who abstains from voting). When Anna finds out Miles voted against her, she is furious although later reconciles with him when he admits he was jealous of the extra work she was receiving.
Later in the second series, Anna manages to be assigned the Aylmore case, involving a teacher who has allegedly had an affair with one his pupils. Working with Graham as his junior brief, Anna correctly deduces, after reviewing witness testimonies and social services reports, that the girl fabricated her story and is lying. Unfortunately, Anna’s work on the case occurs at the same time her mother dies from her alcoholism and, after initially refusing to attend the funeral, later relies on alcohol and drugs to sustain her work. After Graham catches her snorting cocaine in chambers toilets, she is nearly fired but Hooperman offers her a conditional return, subject to her attending AA meetings. Miles takes over the Aylmore case and helps Graham win it, but Anna is envious of the hard work she put in. Anna finds out about Milly’s affair with O’Donnell and is angry that her friend did not listen to her advice, although they later reconcile.
10 years later, Anna is a very successful barrister but is unmarried and has no children. Desperately wanting a child, she visits a sperm bank and is told there is an extensive waiting list. After reuniting with the others, she makes amends with Milly and it is implied that she and Miles sleep together before he departs to travel the world.
- Miles (series 1-2 & +10 special)
Miles Stuart is introduced at the start of the series as a junior barrister in chambers. Born into a wealthy and privileged family, Miles initially displays views and makes comments that are considered racist, sexist and (in particular) homophobic.
At the beginning of the first series, Miles is reunited with former flame Anna, although they keep their relationship platonic initially. Miles embarks on a relationship with drug addict and thief Delilah, whom he meets whilst Anna is defending her boyfriend Truelove at court. Miles remains oblivious to Delilah’s true nature, even after she is accused of robbing his housemates and continuing to take drugs with Truelove. After Delilah moves out, Miles believes they have turned against him and lashes out at Anna and Warren in particular, although he later makes up and apologises to both of them. Miles’ homophobic views again come to fore in the second series after Warren leaves and Ferdy replaces him as a housemate- the pair frequently argue, more so after Miles is forced to perjure himself to prevent Ferdie being arrested for property damage.
Midway through the first series, Miles is offered the brief in the Sherringham case, a high level trial which involves fraudulent stock exchanges. Realizing, after a conversation with Graham, that he is protecting people that are privileged like himself, he looks for a way out of the case. By chance, Miles’ father Montgomery was one of the key witnesses to Sherringham’s innocence and this enables Miles to recuse himself from the case to avoid professional embarrassment. The relationship between Miles and Montgomery is contentious- Miles blames his father for being absent when he was a child and, despite his sizeable inheritance, initially wants nothing more to do with him. In the second series, Montgomery makes amends to Miles and reveals to his son that he is going to marry Caroline, a young fundraiser he met at a charity event. Miles is initially sceptical and refuses to go to the wedding, but Anna convinces him otherwise.
Miles himself becomes engaged later in series two after meeting designer and store purchaser Francesca. Despite Francesca being nearly 10 years old than him, they announce their wedding plans which takes place at in the final episode of the second series. Unbeknownst to Francesca, Miles had sex with Anna a few days after their engagement whilst he was comforting her after her mother’s death. Miles continue to wind up Ferdy, but later stops after he punches him in the face and Anna reveals he had witnessed them having sex in the front room.
10 years later, Miles has divorced Francesca and is married to a Vietnamese woman called Me Linh and it is implied that he has left chambers to found his own businesses. The relationship between husband and wife is strained, more so when Anna returns and Miles reveals that he is in severe financial trouble due to his businesses failing. Penniless and homeless after his mansion is repossessed by the bailiffs, Miles leaves to go travelling around the world.
- Warren (series 1-2 & +10 special)
Warren Jones is a solicitor originally from Wales. During the early episodes in series 1, it is revealed that his family are working class and that he seeks a better life for himself in London. Like Egg, he interviews and is successful in gaining a position at solicitor’s firm Moore Spencer Wright. Initially Egg is antagonistic towards him, but softens and invites him to rent with them as the fifth housemate.
Warren’s sexuality and his acceptance of it are a major part of the character in the first series- he is worried that his family back home, who are unaware that he is gay, may reject him. In order to deal with his anxieties, he regularly visits a therapist who encourages him to embrace his sexuality and tell his friends. Whilst Egg, Milly, Miles and Anna are initially all aware, other colleagues and family members are not. Near the beginning of the first series, both Warren’s cousin Kira and his older brother Dale come to visit him at various times. Kira gets a job at Moore Spencer Wright and Warren struggles to hide the truth about his sexuality from her until one night when he is cottaging (cruising for gay sex in a nearby park) and she fends off a man whom she mistakenly thinks is attacking Warren. Whilst Kira is happy and accepting of his sexuality, Dale (who is on leave from the Army) is extremely uncomfortable and refuses to accept it. The relationship between the brothers is permanently damaged and, despite the best efforts of Kira, Dale refuses to make amends.
Whilst Warren’s professional life is going well, he struggles to find a suitable partner. Near the end of the first series, he meets motorbike courier Ferdie, although he later discovers that he is engaged and in denial about his sexuality. Ferdie and Warren meet again early in series 2 after Ferdie splits from his fiancée- they embark on a brief romance whilst Ferdie sleeps in the front room.
Warren’s private life comes uncomfortably to the fore when he goes cottaging one night and is caught up in a sting operation with an undercover police operative who is assaulted by another man whom Warren was about to have sex with. Initially arrested and bailed, pending a trial, Warren finds that his private life becomes tabloid fodder and he is fired by his boss O’Donnell after bringing the firm into disrepute. Following a police line-up, he is cleared of assault and Anna successfully defends him in court, with only a small fine to pay for breach of the peace.
With his redundancy pay, Warren decides to go travelling around the world, starting in Australia. Dale makes a final visit and tries to convince Warren not to tell his parents the truth about why he is leaving and his sexuality. Warren refuses, at which point Dale calls him selfish and walks out of Warren's life for good. The housemates bid him a fond farewell and he leaves Southwark in a taxi. Warren keeps in touch with his friends via postcards through the rest of series 2 and makes a cameo appearance at the very end of the final episode during Miles and Francesca’s wedding (in doing so, Warren becomes the character to have uttered both the first and last lines of the series, not including the +10 special).
10 years later, Warren has his own online therapy organisation, but is battling severe depression and initially tries to keep it a secret from his former housemates. After they mistakenly believe he is trying to commit suicide, he reveals his true mental state and they collectively support him.
- Ferdy (series 1 guest, series 2 main)
Ferdinando Garcia, known to his friends as Ferdy, is introduced in the penultimate episode of series 1 as a motorbike courier of Mexican descent delivering documents to Moore Spencer Wright, where he catches the eye of Warren. After visiting a bar together, they later have sex, although Ferdy admits it is a mistake and he is engaged to be married. Whilst drunk, Warren phones Ferdy, but ends up mistakenly confessing what has happened to Ferdy’s father. Ferdy is furious and attacks Warren before telling him to stay out of his life for good.
Ferdy returns in the second series and reveals that his fiancée Mia found out that he had been seeing other men and called off the engagement whilst his parents disowned him and kicked him out of their home. Ferdy stays on the sofa in the shared house and rekindles his relationship with Warren, accepting that he is attracted to men and is bisexual. After Warren leaves to go travelling around the world, Ferdy is offered his room and agrees to become a paying tenant.
Continuing to struggle with his sexuality, Ferdy tries to reconcile with Mia, but discovers she is now seeing his former rival and co-worker Seb. Adding insult to injury, Mia reveals it was Seb who told her about Ferdy’s affairs with other men whilst Seb taunts Ferdy about his sexuality. In a rage, Ferdy trashes Seb’s car although the police are unable to link him to the crime as both Miles and Egg act as unwitting alibis. Miles is furious about having lied to the police and the animosity between him and Ferdy only deepens until the end of the series when he invites him to his wedding to Francesca. Ferdy continues a stream of relationships throughout the latter half of series two- he initially tries to involve himself in the gay club scene with Warren’s friend Paul but finds it is too camp and leaves. Later, he begins a relationship with Scottish plumber Lenny who visits the house after the boiler breaks. Despite their intimacy, Ferdy refuses to accept he is gay and picks up a girl from a local club, although she leaves after Miles reveals Ferdy likes men too. Ferdy later reconciles with Lenny and they attend Miles and Francesca’s wedding together, where Ferdy tells Lenny that he loves him.
In +10 special set ten years later, it is revealed that Ferdy has died – his funeral is the catalyst for the original five housemates to reunite. In the interim period Ferdy and Warren reunited, living together for five years prior to Ferdy's death.
A then-largely-unknown Ricky Gervais, partner of producer Jane Fallon, was credited as "Music Advisor" for the series, and commissioned the theme tune written by The Way Out. In 2000, BBC Music issued a compilation CD featuring the theme tune and songs from the 1990s by bands including: Blur, The Charlatans, The Lightning Seeds, Pulp, Jamiroquai, Manic Street Preachers, Suede, Oasis, The Divine Comedy, Everything but the Girl, New Order, Skunk Anansie, The Clash, Happy Mondays, The Prodigy, and Supergrass.
The second series ended with a close-up of an advert for the house, and the original intention was to re-cast with new characters. The controversial stage writer Mark Ravenhill was involved in drafting storylines and early scripts for a third series, but the plans were aborted, and the decision was taken to end the programme "on a high".
The young production team behind This Life went on to further success:
- Jane Fallon went on to become Executive Producer on the Channel 4 series Teachers which also starred Andrew Lincoln.
- Joe Ahearne later went on to write and direct the cult Channel 4 series Ultraviolet (1998) which also starred Jack Davenport. He also directed episodes of the first series of the revived Doctor Who in 2005.
- Matthew Graham co-created the BBC One series Life on Mars (2006) and has written episodes of Hustle, Spooks, and an episode of Doctor Who in 2006.
- Ian Iqbal Rashid went on to write and direct the feature films Touch of Pink (Sony Pictures Classics, 2004) and How She Move (Paramount Vantage, 2008).
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