When I watched Neverwhere for the first time in 1996 I hadn’t learned to pay attention to television writers in the way I did with authors. So much as I was hooked on this small but perfectly formed drama, I didn’t realise it was my first introduction to the wonderful words of Neil Gaiman.
And as such it is full of wonderful things – comment on the way society treats the homeless, dark riffs on famous London place names (you will never be able to look at Blackfriars, Knightsbridge, Earls Court or the Angel Islington in the same way again), and Paterson Joseph to name just three.
Most of Neverwhere is set in the magical realm of London Below, which coexists with London Above (London as we know it). We discover it through the eyes of young businessman Richard Mayhew (Gary Bakewell), who stops to help a young, blood-covered woman called Door (Laura Fraser) lying on the pavement, after his dreadful fiancee Jessica (“Not Jess, Richard”) commands him not to get involved.
Unfortunately for Richard by involving himself in Door’s troubles (she’s being hunted by assassins Mr Croup (Hywel Bennett) and Mr Vandemar (Clive Russell) – who have already killed the rest of her family) he finds himself rendered as invisible as the rest of the London Below folk who are ignored by the inhabitants of London Above – his desk is emptied, his bank card unrecognised at the cash machine, his landlord convinced the flat can be re-let.
Richard is forced to travel through London Below, peopled not just with the homeless, but historical relics such as Roman legionaries and fantastical characters, including the charming, but slightly sinister Marquis de Carabas (a mesmerising performance from the always fabulous Paterson Joseph) and the Angel Islington (a compelling Peter Capaldi), in a bid to get his life back and help protect Door.
There are some beautiful twists that will leave your jaw on the floor, allusions that will haunt you every time you step into the Underground and top-notch storytelling from the masterful Mr Gaiman. You don’t even have to devote hours on end to it – there are only six 30-minute episodes. And you won’t regret a moment spent on watching it. You might even be glad that Police Interceptors came on (and prompted you to switch the DVD player on instead…)
Posted by Jo the Hat
And it’s only £3.99 from Amazon! Bargain!