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Office worker Richard Mayhew leads a simple, safe and extremely boring life. However, all that changes after he helps an injured girl named Door. Richard’s life soon takes a turn for the worse, as he is thrown into the world of ‘Down Below’ – a dark and sinister world that lies beneath London, populated by the homeless, the dispossessed, and the strange… a world of which ordinary, everyday people are utterly unaware…

‘Neverwhere’ began life as an idea by comedian Lenny Henry, who thought a story based around London’s homeless would be an interesting project for his newly-formed production company, Crucial Films. When Henry asked author Neil Gaiman to write the story, Gaiman (whose works include the comics ‘Sandman’, ‘1602, ‘Books of Magic’ and ‘Death’, and novels such as ‘Anansi Boys’ and ‘Good Omens’ [with Terry Pratchett]) used an idea that he had formulated many years earlier: what if the station names on the London Underground described real things? Were there monks at Blackfriars? Were there clowns at Oxford Circus? And who was the Angel Islington? The result is one of the most innovative and underrated shows ever to appear on television.

Gaiman’s thought-provoking scripts are filled with ideas both ingenious and macabre, and liberally peppered with sinister black humour; this particularly evident in the entertaining double-act of the odious assassins, Croup and Valdemar (played with menacing relish by Hywel Bennett and Clive Russell), whose predilection for inflicting pain is matched only by their enjoyment of frog golf and a taste (literally!) for ancient oriental sculpture. The viewer easily identifies with Richard (Gary Bakewell), sharing his bewilderment at discovering a whole new world, and encouraging him in his struggles to deal with situations in which he is completely out of his depth. Laura Fraser plays the attractive and feisty Door; Tanya Moodie the single-minded warrior, Hunter; while Paterson Joseph gives a brilliant performance as the Marquis de Carabas (named after Puss in Boots’ master), a man so dodgy and self-assured that you can’t fail to like him. Other superb characters include the train-obsessed Earl (Freddie Jones), pigeon-fancier Old Bailey (Trevor Peacock), the voluptuous Serpentine (Julie T. Wallace), and the scheming Angel Islington (Peter Capaldi).

’Neverwhere’ is ably directed by Dewi Humphreys, whose innovative use of atmospheric lighting, striking camerawork and location filming make ‘Down Below’ a truly believable environment. The only let down is the Beast of London, which sadly just looks like a bull in a hairy jumper, but that shortfall aside, the programme is a joy to watch. Unfortunately, the BBC buried it away on BBC 2’s schedules with hardly any publicity, and so it failed to get the large ratings it deserved; however, now that the series has been released on DVD, ‘Neverwhere’ can be seen for the triumph it is.

Neverwhere - Eps 1-6

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Legal Bit: 'Neverwhere' is a registered trademark of BBC Worldwide. The 'Neverwhere' logo and all images from the television series are copyright BBC Worldwide unless otherwise stated; music is copyright the original composers and producers; no copyright infringement is intended. All specially created images and text are copyright © Clive Banks; please do not use these without my permission. All rights reserved. No profit is made from this website, and any revenue made from using the banner-links featured goes straight back into the costs of maintaining it, which comes out of my own pocket in the first place. No profit advertising is accepted. This website was created purely to entertain and amuse, and any references to persons living, dead, comatose, in suspended animation, lost in Down Below, not born yet, or a figment of someone's imagination is purely coincidental. All opinions expressed are my own, so there...

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