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Blackpool (TV serial)

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Also known as
Viva Blackpool

Country of origin
United Kingdom

Created by
Peter Bowker

Original language(s)

Directed by
Coky Giedroyc Julie Anne Robinson

David Morrissey David Tennant Sarah Parish

Blackpool is a British television musical comedy drama serial, produced in-house by the BBC. It was screened on BBC One as six one-hour episodes on Thursday nights at 9pm from 11 November to 16 December 2004. When retransmitted by BBC America in 2005, it was renamed Viva Blackpool, and went on to win a Peabody Award for BBC Worldwide, the commercial overseas distribution subsidiary of the BBC. A sequel in the form of a TV movie was produced by the BBC, also called Viva Blackpool in the UK (2006).



The plot concerns the murder of a young man in a Blackpool arcade, and how it affects the people involved in the arcade and the investigation:

  • Ripley Holden (David Morrissey), the ambitious, arrogant arcade owner who believes strongly in luck, and who is planning to turn his arcade into a Las Vegas-style casino hotel and thus revive Blackpool's fortunes;
  • DI Peter Carlisle (David Tennant), the investigating officer of the murder: a charming and good-natured, although extremely manipulative, police officer, who dislikes Holden almost on sight;
  • Natalie Holden (Sarah Parish), Ripley's shy, frustrated and lonely wife, whom Ripley takes for granted and to whom Carlisle takes a shine;
  • Shyanne Holden (Georgia Taylor); Ripley and Natalie's spoilt daughter, who worships her doting father but is cruel and distant to her mother;
  • Danny Holden (Thomas Morrison); Ripley and Natalie's troubled and awkward son, who is constantly belittled by his father.
  • Steve (Kevin Doyle); Shyanne's older boyfriend, who has a bad relationship with Ripley after an incident in their school days
  • As the investigation proceeds, it takes its toll on the characters; Ripley, under suspicion of murder, finds his public and private life slowly unravelling as both his bullying nature and long-forgotten demons from his past return to haunt him, whilst Carlisle, intent on proving Ripley is the murderer and planning to use Natalie to get to him, finds himself genuinely falling in love with her instead.


    Starring David Morrissey, Sarah Parish and David Tennant, the serial was written by Peter Bowker (who had previously written for BBC One's modern adaptation of The Canterbury Tales (2003) and BBC Two's Flesh and Blood (2002)) and directed by Coky Giedroyc and Julie Anne Robinson, it was filmed on location in Blackpool itself and Brentford. It was renamed Viva Blackpool for transmission on BBC America in 2005. Also in the cast were John Thomson and Steve Pemberton.

    The series is particularly notable for its comic touches and the employment of pop music in the course of the narrative - although the originals are played, they are sung along with and accompanied by slightly surreal dance routines acted out by the characters. This latter device is strongly reminiscent of the style of television playwright Dennis Potter, who used it in several of his famous productions such as Pennies from Heaven (1978) and The Singing Detective (1986).

    A sequel that happened to be called Viva Blackpool (2006) was produced in the UK.

    Critical reaction and awards

    Critical reaction to the serial was generally positive, although there were some poor reviews as well. Its audience figures were not spectacular, falling between four and five million viewers. In 2005, it was nominated in the Best Drama Serial category at the British Academy Television Awards, eventually losing out on the Award to Channel 4's Sex Traffic. It did, however, win the "Best Miniseries" and Grand Prize accolades at Canada's Banff Television Festival. In December 2005, it was announced that it had been nominated (under its American title Viva Blackpool) in the Golden Globe Award for Best Miniseries or Television Film category at the 2006 Golden Globe Awards.

    In October 2007, American network CBS aired a series adapted by Bob Lowry and the creator of Blackpool, Peter Bowker, and based on the same premise, coproduced by BBC Worldwide, CBS Paramount Network Television, Sony Pictures Television and Seed Productions called Viva Laughlin; the series was cancelled after two episodes, due to low ratings.

    Overseas distribution

    The serial has been shown abroad in several countries, including:

  • Television New Zealand's TV One
  • United States cable television station BBC America under the alternative title, Viva Blackpool
  • Canadian specialty channel BBC Canada
  • Canadian TVOntario
  • Australia's ABC from 30 November 2005.
  • Belgium's Canvas.
  • Finland's YLE (The Finnish Broadcasting Corporation).
  • Netherlands' VPRO.
  • It has also been released on DVD in the UK, Australia and the Netherlands.


  • Ripley Holden — David Morrissey
  • DI Peter Carlisle — David Tennant
  • Natalie Holden — Sarah Parish
  • Shyanne Holden — Georgia Taylor
  • Danny Holden — Thomas Morrison
  • Adrian Marr — Steve Pemberton
  • Soundtrack

    A list of the songs used as musical numbers throughout the show.

    Episode 1

  • "Viva Las Vegas" by Elvis Presley
  • "You Can Get It If You Really Want" by Jimmy Cliff
  • "She's Not You" by Elvis Presley
  • "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" by Nancy Sinatra
  • Episode 2

  • "The Gambler" by Kenny Rogers
  • "Cupid" by Johnny Nash
  • "Should I Stay" by Gabrielle
  • "I Second That Emotion" by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles
  • Episode 3

  • "Brilliant Mistake" by Elvis Costello
  • "Skweeze Me, Pleeze Me" by Slade
  • "The Boy With The Thorn In His Side" by The Smiths
  • "The Secrets That You Keep" by Mud
  • Episode 4

  • "Walk Tall" by Val Doonican
  • "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" by Diana Ross & The Supremes and The Temptations
  • "Ooh La La" by The Faces
  • Episode 5

  • "Should I Stay or Should I Go" by The Clash
  • "Invisible" by Alison Moyet
  • "Don't Stop Me Now" by Queen
  • "Knock Knock, Who's There?" by Mary Hopkin
  • Episode 6

  • "White Wedding" by Billy Idol
  • "There Goes My Everything" by Engelbert Humperdinck
  • "Don't Leave Me This Way" by The Communards
  • "(There's) Always Something There to Remind Me" by Sandie Shaw
  • A soundtrack was also released to accompany the TV series, in which a six-page booklet explained why each song used was included in the series.

    Viva Blackpool (sequel)

    Songs that appeared in the sequel included:

  • "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" by Queen
  • "I'm on My Way" by The Proclaimers
  • "I Only Want To Be With You" by Dusty Springfield
  • "Ring of Fire" by Johnny Cash
  • "It's Not Unusual" by Tom Jones
  • "Dream A Little Dream" by Cass Elliot
  • References

    Blackpool (TV serial) Wikipedia

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