Director of Boys from the Blackstuff, Philip Saville died on 22nd Dec 2016. Here is an excerpt from his obituary in ‘The Guardian’ from January 2017, written by Toby Hadoke:
The director Philip Saville, who has died aged 86, was an important figure in British television drama – an innovative practitioner who brought Alan Bleasdale’s 1986 Boys from the Blackstuff to the screen. The series, which concerned the harrowing effects of unemployment on five Liverpudlian men, had a difficult gestation – the BBC was not easily persuaded to allow a supposedly “arty” director to convey the reality of disenfranchised working classes. While he greatly admired Bleasdale’s scripts, Saville suggested rewrites, notably expanding the role of Angie, the wife of one of the men, Chrissie (Michael Angelis). This added a strong female element to an otherwise male-dominated piece and provided Julie Walters with a breakthrough role.
One episode, Yosser’s Story, featured the broke Yosser Hughes (Bernard Hill) desperately asking “gissa job” as his sanity was eroded along with his self-respect. By shooting Yosser’s Story on film, Saville gave it a haunting grandeur (the other episodes benefited from the immediacy of being made entirely on videotape, unusual for the time). The series won the Bafta award for best drama serial.
The full obituary is available on this link: https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2017/jan/01/philip-saville-obituary
A further obituary was published by The Telegraph in February. Here is an excerpt:
Filmed with recently introduced lightweight cameras, Saville’s Boys from the Blackstuff caught the punch-drunk spirit of the industrial north-west during the early Thatcher years with its highly stylised portrayal of a gang of out-of-work tarmac-layer in Liverpool.
Saville had been parachuted in at the eleventh hour after the original director withdrew, and shot four of the five episodes on outside broadcast (OB) video, working on location in derelict docks and factories in and around Merseyside, exploiting video’s greater flexibility over film.
Rapturously acclaimed by critics, Boys from the Blackstuff transferred from BBC2 to BBC1, secured one of the swiftest repeat runs in television history and earned Saville two Bafta awards in 1983.