TV program Years and Years episodic photos. Emma Thompson. Picture: SBS
TV program Years and Years episodic photos. Emma Thompson. Picture: SBS

Brilliant show we finally get to watch

Australians viewers will soon be able to watch a miniseries mixing post-apocalyptic sci-fi with family melodrama that aired to great acclaim in the UK earlier this year.

A six-part co-production between the BBC and HBO, Years and Years will finally premiere in Australia on November 6 across SBS and SBS On Demand, some six months after its UK premiere.

Written by Russell T. Davies (Doctor Who, A Very English Scandal), the series tells the story of one ordinary British family, the Lyons, starting in 2019 and then hurtling forward each episode through the next 15 years of their lives.

It's a gripping - and frequently horrifying - imagined journey through society's near future, with issues like climate change, economic downturn, refugee crises and even nuclear war looming large over the Lyons family's everyday lives.

Years and Years tells the story of one ordinary family as they navigate the next 15 years. Picture: SBS
Years and Years tells the story of one ordinary family as they navigate the next 15 years. Picture: SBS

Episode one sets the tone, as the family gathers in grandmother Muriel (Anne Reid)'s Manchester garden to celebrate her 92nd birthday. The family's usual squabbles are suddenly interrupted by the sound of an air-raid siren - and an emergency TV broadcast announces that President Trump has fired a nuclear missile at China.

Is this the start of World War III?

The four Lyons siblings are the series' beating heart, each character's story demonstrating in a different way how the personal is political.

Stephen (Rory Kinnear) is a high-flying financial advisor forced to desperate measures to provide for his family when another GFC-esque banking collapse hits. Edith (the always brilliant Jessica Hynes) is an outspoken activist, home from China and battling the very real effects of her proximity to that Trump-ordered nuclear attack.

Rosie (Ruth Madeley) is a young mum and wheelchair user, suddenly contending with austerity measures brought in by the people she voted for.

Most affectingly, there's Daniel (Russell Tovey), a housing officer who falls in love with one of the refugees under his watch. As the government takes an increasingly hard line against the refugee influx, Daniel takes extreme measures to stay with the man he loves.

 

Emma Thompson is populist politician Vivienne Rooke.
Emma Thompson is populist politician Vivienne Rooke.

Looming large over them all is Vivienne Rooke, a populist politician equal parts Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and Katie Hopkins, and brought to life in a chilling, assured performance from Emma Thompson.

Vivienne's star-making moment comes early in the series when, as a guest on a Q&A-style panel show, she declares she "doesn't give a f**k" about the Israel-Palestine conflict. Her fellow panellists are horrified - you can't say that on television! - but viewers love her for cutting through the political doublespeak.

Emma Thompson plays Vivienne Rooke, a political novice who quickly rises the ranks. Picture: SBS
Emma Thompson plays Vivienne Rooke, a political novice who quickly rises the ranks. Picture: SBS

As times get tougher, this self-professed "woman of the people" soars to power, voters drawn to her ability to speak directly to them - even when she's enacting policies that cause them great harm.

In one episode, Vivienne's happily making a fool of herself dancing to cheesy pop on daytime television, the next she's making a case for the introduction of concentration camps across the UK to deal with the refugee crisis.

Through it all, the Lyons family continues on, like that fabled frog in a boiling pot, doing their best to keep afloat as their conditions worsen.

I know, I know - it all sounds rather grim. But Years and Years is also frequently laugh-out-loud hilarious, and just as concerned with the sort of complicated family dynamics you'd see on a show like Brothers and Sisters or Six Feet Under.

The seriesdebuted to five-star reviews in the UK in May, and viewers were soon hooked, both on the drama and the futuristic predictions peppered throughout the six episodes:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Years and Years will premiere in Australia on SBS and SBS on Demand on Wednesday, 6 November at 8.30pm.


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