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A murder is committed in a Blackpool games arcade, and the resulting investigation will tear apart the lives of everyone involved -- Ripley Holden (David Morrissey), the bullying, luck-obsessed arcade owner; his shy, insecure trophy wife Natalie (Sarah Parish); the manipulative but charming and sweet-natured investigating detective Peter Carlisle (David Tennant), and Ripley and Natalie's children, the self-destructive and awkward Danny (Thomas Morrison) and spoilt daddy's girl Shyanne (Georgia Taylor). Ripley finds his life gradually self-destructing under the pressure of the investigation, his failing plans to transform Blackpool into a Las Vegas-style gambling mecca, and his daughter's fiance, an old face from his past whose renewed presence in his life awakens long-forgotten demons, whilst his nemesis Carlisle, who has taken an instant dislike to Ripley, finds his plans to secure Ripley's guilt in the murder scuttled when he finds himself falling desperately in love with Natalie.
Sound like an average crime drama? Think again. Not only does Blackpool contain more than a little bit of dark humour and Character Development and complexity, but it's also a Musical; the characters will often spontaneously break into surreal song and dance routines, singing along to the (actual) pop songs that form the soundtrack of the series and reflect the feelings of the characters and events that are occurring on screen; for example, a drug dealer is arrested in a dance routine choreographed to 'The Boy With The Thorn In His Side' by The Smiths.
The original series was broadcast on The BBC in 2004, with a one-off sequel, Viva Blackpool!, shown in 2006 (Viva Blackpool was also the title given to the original series on it's broadcast in the United States).
Hugh Jackman made an American version in 2007 called Viva Laughlin that was canceled after two episodes.
This show provides examples of:
- Accidental Murder
- Asshole Victim
- Bad Boss: D.I. Carlisle. In order to stop Blythe from arresting a man they both think committed murder, he blackmails Blythe by threatening to tell their superiors the poor boy is taking drugs. Not to mention all the other, ahem, morally questionable things he does throughout the series...
- Carlisle does lampshade it in a sense, pointing out his own shortcomings as a superior officer as one of the reasons why their superiors would have little hesitation believing Blythe would turn to drugs in frustration.
- Badass Longcoat: Carlisle's outfit of choice.
- Bathtub Bonding
- Be as Unhelpful as Possible: Particularly Ripley.
- Big Eater: D.I. Carlisle
- Unless he's heartbroken at the time. The look of absolute shock on D.C. Blythe's face when Carlisle refuses a doughnut says it all.
- Carpet of Virility: Ripley Holden.
- Coming Out Story: Danny
- Dark and Troubled Past
- Daydream Surprise: The "I Second That Emotion" sequence.
- Driven to Suicide
- Earn Your Happy Ending
- Face Heel Turn
- Fair Cop: I think most David Tennant fangirls would agree.
- Frame-Up: Carlisle threatens to do this to D.C. Blythe if he doesn't cooperate.
- Framing the Guilty Party: Carlisle tries to do this to Ripley through Hallworth (the protester). Turns out to be a subversion, considering Ripley was actually innocent.
- Good Adultery, Bad Adultery
- Grey and Grey Morality: Very much so. Ripley Holden, initially a violent, vulgar bully, turns out to be a vulgar bully who hasn't committed any of the violent crimes he's been accused of, and who genuinely loves his family and does what's best for them. Carlisle, on the other hand, tries to do some very questionable things.
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold
- Hypocritical Humour: Ripley reacts very poorly to learning of Natalie's infidelity. When he's sulking about it in the wedding car on the way to Shyanne's wedding, she points out that it's not like he's been able to keep his dick in his pants much since they were married.
- I Kiss Your Foot
- Insurance Fraud
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy
- Jerkass: Ripley Holden. And how.
- Then again, he's innocent of the crimes people think he's done and genuinely loves his family.
- Love Triangle
- Love Makes You Evil: Carlisle has a mild case of this.
- Manipulative Bastard: Carlisle, although he's an unusually sweet-natured example.
- May-December Romance
- Modesty Bedsheet
- Moral Guardians: Hallworth.
- Musical Episode: Every single one.
- Musical World Hypotheses: Given that the musical numbers are surrounded by a gritty police drama, Blackpool, seem to fit with the 'Adaptation Hypothesis' best.
- Nice Guy: D.C. Blythe. Possibly the only one this show has. And even he's a little bit of a dick.
- Steve comes out of it all right too (a lot of people were expecting him to be the murderer, or at least to be using Shyanne to get back at Ripley, but no).
- Oral Fixation Fixation: Carlisle and his eating habits
- Parental Marriage Veto
- Right Through His Pants: Averted. Many David Tennant fangirls squealed.
- Shirtless Scene: David Tennant gets quite a few of these.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: Several times, but the final number of Part 5 revolving around Ripley having a breakdown and setting the flats on fire set to Mary Hopkin's "Knock Knock, Who's There?" is a particularly stunning example.
- Sympathetic Adulterer: Natalie. Ripley, on the other hand, not so much.
- Was It All a Lie?
- Wedding Day
- With Due Respect: Blythe to Carlisle on a few occasions.
- Your Cheating Heart