Open main menu

Years and Years is a British television drama series which is a joint production by the BBC and HBO. It began broadcasting on BBC One in the United Kingdom on 14 May 2019[1][2] and on HBO on 24 June 2019.[3]

Years and Years
Years and Years.jpg
Genre
Created byRussell T Davies
Screenplay byRussell T Davies
Directed by
Starring
Music byMurray Gold
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series1
No. of episodes6
Production
Executive producer(s)
Producer(s)Karen Lewis
Production location(s)Manchester
Production company(s)Red Production Company
DistributorStudioCanal
Release
Original networkBBC One
Audio formatStereo
Original release14 May –
18 June 2019

The series was created and written by Russell T Davies,[1] and stars Emma Thompson as Vivienne Rook, an outspoken celebrity business woman turned political figure whose controversial opinions divide the nation,[4] alongside Rory Kinnear, Russell Tovey, Jessica Hynes, Ruth Madeley and Anne Reid[4] as the Lyons family.

PlotEdit

The six-part series follows the British Manchester-based Lyons family: Daniel is getting married to Ralph, Stephen and Celeste worry about their kids, Rosie is looking for a new partner, and Edith is engaged in one humanitarian cause after another. Presiding over them all is Gran, the imperious Muriel. All their lives converge on one crucial night in 2019, and the story accelerates into the future, following the lives and loves of the Lyons over the next 15 years as Britain is rocked by unstable political, economic and technological advances.[5]

Cast and charactersEdit

  • Emma Thompson as Vivienne Rook MP, a charismatic and controversial businesswoman turned politician.
  • Rory Kinnear as Stephen Lyons, a financial advisor, who lives in London with his wife, Celeste, and their two daughters, Bethany and Ruby. He is also Daniel, Edith, and Rosie's older brother.
  • T'Nia Miller as Celeste Bisme-Lyons, an accountant and Stephen's wife.
  • Russell Tovey as Daniel Lyons, a housing officer based in Manchester and Rosie, Stephen and Edith's brother.
  • Jessica Hynes as Edith Lyons, a political activist and Stephen, Daniel and Rosie's sister.
  • Ruth Madeley as Rosie Lyons, the youngest of the Lyons siblings, who has spina bifida. She is a single mother, has two sons, Lee and Lincoln, and works in a school cafeteria.
  • Anne Reid as Muriel Deacon, the Lyons siblings' grandmother.
  • Dino Fetscher as Ralph Cousins, Daniel's ex-husband, who is a primary school teacher.
  • Lydia West as Bethany Bisme-Lyons, Stephen and Celeste's older daughter.
  • Jade Alleyne as Ruby Bisme-Lyons, Stephen and Celeste's younger daughter.
  • Maxim Baldry as Viktor Goraya, a Ukrainian refugee, who develops a romantic relationship with Daniel.
  • Sharon Duncan-Brewster as Fran Baxter, a storyteller and activist who is Daniel's friend. She later becomes Edith's partner.

ProductionEdit

DevelopmentEdit

In June 2018, the BBC announced that Russell T Davies would write Years and Years which was described as "an epic drama following a family over 15 years of unstable political, economical and technological advances".[6] Davies noted that he has been aiming to write the drama series for almost two decades.[5][7][8]

In October 2018, it was announced that Emma Thompson had joined the cast as Vivienne Rook (who shares a name with another of Davies' characters, a journalist in the Doctor Who episode "The Sound of Drums") alongside Rory Kinnear, T'Nia Miller, Russell Tovey, Jessica Hynes, Lydia West, Ruth Madeley and Anne Reid.[4] Years and Years was cast by Andy Prior. It was also announced that the series would be directed by Simon Cellan Jones.

Filming began in Manchester[4] on 22 October 2018[9] and was completed on 17 March 2019.[10] Locations included Trafford Park for the refugee camp and Altcar Training Camp, Liverpool for the "Erstwhile" site.

EpisodesEdit

No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateU.K. viewers
(millions) [11]
1Episode 1Simon Cellan JonesRussell T Davies14 May 2019 (2019-05-14)4.26
On 14 May 2019, businesswoman Vivienne "Viv" Rook (Emma Thompson) causes controversy by saying she "doesn't give a fuck" about the Israel-Palestine conflict on an evening talk show. Meanwhile, Rosie Lyons (Ruth Madeley) gives birth to a son, Lincoln, by an absent Chinese lover. Daniel Lyons (Russell Tovey), her brother, worries about the state of the world and what Lincoln’s future will be. The timeline skips forwards to 2024; in the meantime, Donald Trump wins a second term as president, and China constructs an artificial island and a military base named Hong Sha Dao in disputed waters. Daniel marries Ralph (Dino Fetscher), Queen Elizabeth dies, Viv tries and fails to be elected as an independent candidate in the 2022 general election, and a Russian-backed military government takes over in Ukraine. Daniel manages a local council-run refugee camp, where he makes a connection with Viktor (Maxim Baldry), who fled Ukraine after he was tortured for being gay. Teenage Bethany (Lydia West) tells her parents Stephen Lyons (Rory Kinnear) and Celeste (T'Nia Miller) that she is transhuman and eventually plans to upload her consciousness to the Cloud, to her mother's horror and disapproval. Cracks begin to form in Daniel and Ralph’s marriage, as Daniel's feelings for Viktor cause him to detach from his husband. Viv starts a political party, calling it The Four Star Party, the stars representing the asterisks that were used to censor her unapologetic use of the "F-bomb" on TV. Rosie goes on a date with Tony (Noel Sullivan), but leaves in disgust after she discovers he has sex with his house robot. At a party for grandmother Muriel Lyons' (Anne Reid) 92nd birthday, the family get a video call from long-absent Edith Lyons (Jessica Hynes), who has travelled to Vietnam, close to Hong Sha Dao. As air raid sirens sound in the UK, news comes that Trump has fired a nuclear missile at Hong Sha Dao and the family descend into panic and squabbling. In the ensuing uproar, Celeste tells Bethany that she can be whatever she wants to be, reversing her earlier opposition to Bethany's transhuman ambitions, and Daniel flees Ralph and his family for Viktor, and they have sex for the first time.
2Episode 2Simon Cellan JonesRussell T Davies21 May 2019 (2019-05-21)2.297
In 2025, Edith has survived the Hong Sha Dao nuclear strike, but she was exposed to the nuclear fallout, and she acknowledges in a TV interview that she will succumb to cancer within 20 years. She returns to live in the UK. Bethany, who has calculated radiation patterns from Hong Sha Dao, realizes that Edith's life expectancy is actually just ten years, but Edith chooses to keep this from the rest of the family. Celeste loses her job as an accountant to artificial intelligence, and she and Stephen must sell their house in London. Bethany, who has turned 18, has cybernetic implants surgically installed in her hand as a step to becoming transhuman, and gets her first job as a data miner. Daniel is in the process of divorcing Ralph, and he and Viktor are living together as a couple, much to Muriel's delight. Though Ralph pretends to accept the split-up, he spitefully has Viktor deported to Ukraine by informing the Home Office of Viktor's job at a petrol station, illegal for an asylum seeker. Rosie and Edith attend an election debate in which Viv Rook, of the Four Star Party, unexpectedly electrifies the crowd. To Daniel's dismay, Rosie becomes a Rook supporter and Edith becomes a sympathizer. Stephen and Celeste sell their house for more than £1.2 million, leaving the proceeds in a single bank account on the night of the sale. Overnight, their money is wiped out in a banking crisis triggered by the collapse of an American investment bank. With nowhere else to go, Stephen, Celeste, and their daughters move into Muriel's large but decaying house in Manchester. Viv Rook is elected MP in a Manchester by-election as Rosie cheers her on.
3Episode 3Simon Cellan JonesRussell T Davies28 May 2019 (2019-05-28)1.29[12]
In 2026, the banking crisis has led to a recession. Viv Rook proposes a national IQ test, with anybody with an IQ of less than 70 being barred from voting. In Ukraine, the police come to arrest Viktor, but he narrowly escapes. Ukraine has now criminalized homosexuality, so Viktor decides to illegally enter Spain and claim asylum. He escapes to Madrid, and Daniel visits him, planning to apply for Spanish citizenship & marry him. Edith has returned to activism, infiltrating the offices of a corporation with links to the Syrian dictatorship under an assumed identity, using Lincoln as part of her cover. The information she steals is released, causing a scandal that shuts down the corporation. Bethany makes friends with Lizzie, another "transhuman" teen at her workplace. The availability of self-heating ready meals leaves Rosie redundant from her job as a chef. Stephen now works as a bicycle courier, among other low-paid jobs, and begins an affair with co-worker Elaine. Celeste finds out, but does not confront him. The Lyons siblings' estranged father dies from antibiotic-resistant sepsis after being struck by a courier's bicycle. The siblings attend his Water Burial to support Stephen, who is the only one emotionally affected. There they meet with "Steven with a V", their father's son by his second wife, whom all the Lyons children despise. Rosie tells Edith she has always believed her father left the family because he couldn't deal with a child in a wheelchair. Bethany and Lizzie secretly travel to Liverpool for black-market cybernetic surgery, using 10,000 pounds Stephen gave her for her 18th birthday. Bethany calls her mother in hysterics; Lizzie has been given a bogus, malfunctioning eye implant, but Bethany escapes unharmed. At first Celeste is glad Bethany is safe, but later she is furious that Bethany wasted money when the family is in financial crisis. A general election gives The Four Star Party fifteen seats in a hung parliament, allowing Viv Rook to determine the balance of power between a minority government and the opposition. Hearing the election results, Stephen uses his rental car to run over a fellow courier's bicycle in a fit of frustrated rage, while his siblings watch impassively.
4Episode 4Simon Cellan JonesRussell T Davies4 June 2019 (2019-06-04)2.173
In 2027, voting is made universally mandatory, the coalition government collapses, and Viv Rook becomes the Prime Minister. Countries become unstable: Greece leaves the EU, Italy's government resigns, Hungary declares bankruptcy, and the United States leaves the United Nations in response to extreme nationalism. Spain's government is overthrown by revolution, and Viktor will soon be deported. Meanwhile, Stephen has a bad reaction to a paid drug experiment. He calls Elaine to pick him up, but the clinic accidentally calls Celeste too, and the three have an awkward meeting at his bedside. Arriving home, Celeste coldly confronts Stephen about the affair on a conference call with the whole family. Muriel angrily demands that he leave her house, thus Stephen moves in with Elaine. Rosie begins a mobile catering business with her new boyfriend, Jonjo. Edith warns him that she is suspicious of his intentions toward Rosie's young sons and will be watchful. With Viktor soon to be repatriated to Ukraine, Daniel decides he has no choice but to illegally get him into the UK. Their trip is a chaotic nightmare, as they are unable to sneak across the border, and their money and passports are stolen while attempting to buy forged documents. Finally they try sailing in an overcrowded boat from France. Half a mile off the British coast, the boat sinks. Daniel Lyons, along with most of the other passengers, drowns. Viktor survives and returns to Daniel's apartment in Manchester alone. He is stunned and robotic as he phones the family with the news, and they rush to the house, but Viktor won't answer the door.
5Episode 5Lisa MulcahyRussell T Davies11 June 2019 (2019-06-11)2.239
In 2028, Viv Rook promises freedom to her supporters but begins arresting her opponents. Catastrophic flooding and two dirty bombs result in huge numbers of displaced residents in the UK, prompting a new law that requires people with extra space in their homes to take in the victims. Edith works with relocation authorities and becomes suspicious that the poor are becoming "erstwhile", a new euphemism for being "disappeared" which she hears about from Viktor, who is in custody in the UK. Stephen visits Viktor to tell him that, unlike the rest of the family, he still blames him for Daniel's death. Checkpoints are erected around Rosie's neighborhood in Manchester in response to criminal activity in the area, and she loses her license to operate her catering van. Bethany is fitted with a brain implant which enables her to interact directly with the internet, but also to spy on her family. Stephen is depressed that he could not pay for the surgery, which leaves Bethany a virtual indentured worker to the government, which paid for it. Muriel is diagnosed with macular degeneration and uses the last of her savings to pay £10,000 for fast-track NHS surgery, which reverses the condition. Celeste gets along better with Muriel but bristles at being treated like an unpaid servant. Rosie and Jonjo become engaged and Edith moves in with her new girlfriend. Stephen degrades himself to get a new high-paying job as a yes-man to Woody, an old acquaintance who calls him his "monkey". Bethany uses her vast new cyber powers to help Edith break into a facility that keeps records of the Erstwhiles and witnesses her aunt's near collapse from radiation sickness. At a business auction held at Chequers, Stephen unexpectedly encounters Viv Rook, who reveals herself to be a slick fascistic monster. Woody's company wins the contract to maintain two of the new "Erstwhile" concentration camps, intended as Darwinian death camps. Stephen uses the company's computer system to send Viktor to the camp, which Bethany sees. At a memorial service to Daniel, Bethany alone knows that her father has betrayed Viktor and sent him to his likely death.
6Episode 6Lisa MulcahyRussell T Davies18 June 2019 (2019-06-18)2.611
As 2029 begins, Bethany grudgingly tells Edith that her father sent Viktor to the death camp, fearful that she will be implicated in illegal activity and lose her implants. As attacks on journalists increase, the BBC shuts down, having had its charter withdrawn. Muriel blames the family and humanity at large for the various problems in the world, saying that the cumulative effect of many small acts of indifference has created the toxic environment they now live in. Stephen breaks up with Elaine and buys an illegal gun and puts it in his desk at work. Viktor wants to contact the family with a smuggled cell phone, but towers at the camp block all signals. By manipulating Stephen, Celeste gets a job at Woody's company to try to get information about the Erstwhile camps. Soon after, Rosie and her neighbors are outraged when her son and his friends are locked out of their apartment complex for not returning before curfew. Meanwhile, Edith and her activist friends take steps to free Viktor and blow up the signal-blocking towers, causing the camp inmates to rush the gates, while armed guards threaten them. At the same time, Stephen confronts Celeste while she is helping Edith using the company's computers, revealing that he had intended to broadcast incriminating evidence against Viv Rook's death camps and then kill himself. Woody charges into the office and Stephen shoots him in the leg. With the signals unblocked, Bethany and her friends at work broadcast footage from the camp to the whole country. Rosie breaks through the curfew fence around her estate with her catering van, to the cheers of her neighbors, and this act of civil disobedience is also broadcast nationally. With the camp liberated, Edith collapses to the ground. Later, Viv Rook is charged with murder relating to the Erstwhile sites, though it's unclear who financed and backed her, and the BBC is reopened. Stephen goes to jail for 3 years for shooting Woody, but emerges with a new lease on life. Though Stephen and Celeste don't get back together, their family is again happy. Rosie and Jonjo get married, and have a son together, named after Daniel. The timeline skips to 2034, where it is revealed that the events of the series were the retellings of Edith's memories, as she is in the process of uploading her mind to a new water molecule-based database, with Bethany watching from Muriel's home as a hologram. As Edith's body dies, she tells the technicians that she doesn't believe her consciousness can really be encoded because the human spirit is more than just information. The series ends with the whole Lyons clan gathered with Muriel, unsure if Edith's consciousness was uploaded to the cloud.

BroadcastEdit

The series was broadcast on BBC One in the UK, BBC First in The Netherlands and Belgium,[13] HBO in the US, Mexico, Latin America, Poland and Spain, and Canal+ in France.[4]

ReceptionEdit

Critical receptionEdit

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the series holds an approval rating of 89% based on 54 critic's reviews and of 90% on 51 public's reviews. The site's critical consensus reads, "Years and Years scathingly critiques the present with a nihilistic projection of the future, leavening the devastating satire with a buoyant sense of humour and characters who are easy to become invested in."[14] On Metacritic, the series has a weighted average score of 77 out of 100, based on 20 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[15]

U.S. ratingsEdit

No. Title Air date[16] Rating
(A18–49)
U.S. viewers
1 Episode 1 24 June 2019 0.05 193,000[17]
2 Episode 2 1 July 2019 0.06 229,000[18]
3 Episode 3 8 July 2019 0.03 171,000[19]
4 Episode 4 15 July 2019 0.03 181,000[20]
5 Episode 5 22 July 2019 0.04 189,000[21]
6 Episode 6 29 July 2019 0.04 265,000[22]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "BBC - Get Obsessed - 2019 BBC Drama - Media Centre". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  2. ^ "BBC One - Years and Years, Series 1, Episode 1". BBC. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
  3. ^ Poniewozik, James (23 June 2019). "Review: In 'Years and Years,' Things Fall Apart, Fast". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d e "BBC - Emma Thompson cast in Russell T Davies' BBC One drama Years and Years - Media Centre". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  5. ^ a b Martin, Laura (1 January 2019). "Years & Years: Everything we know about the new Russell T Davies and Emma Thompson dystopian drama". inews.co.uk. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  6. ^ "BBC - Gripping new drama Years & Years, from Russell T Davies, set for BBC One - Media Centre". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  7. ^ Singh, Anita (1 January 2019). "Emma Thompson plays 'rebel, trickster and terror' MP in BBC drama Years & Years". The Telegraph. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  8. ^ "First look at Emma Thompson in new Russell T Davies drama Years and Years". Radio Times. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  9. ^ "Russell T Davies on Instagram: "Off we go! Day One. BBC One, 2019 @bbc @bbcone #yearsandyears @redproductionco"". Instagram. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  10. ^ "Russell T Davies on Instagram: "And that's a WRAP on Years And Years! Thank you Red Production Company, coming soon on BBC One & HBO! . . . @redproductionco @bbc @bbcone…"". Instagram. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  11. ^ "Weekly Top 15 Programmes (See relevant weeks and scroll down to BBC and BBC 1 "(inc HD)")". Broadcasters' Audience Research Board. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  12. ^ "Russell T Davies on why he'll never do a Years and Years series 2". Radio Times.
  13. ^ "Promo". BBC Studios Benelux.
  14. ^ "Years and Years". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 4 July 2019.
  15. ^ "Years and Years". Metacritic. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  16. ^ "Shows A-Z - years and years on hbo". TheFutonCritic.com. Retrieved 1 July 2019.
  17. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (25 June 2019). "Updated: ShowBuzzDaily's Top 150 Monday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 6.24.2019". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved 1 July 2019.
  18. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (2 July 2019). "Updated: ShowBuzzDaily's Top 150 Monday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 7.1.2019". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved 2 July 2019.
  19. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (10 July 2019). "Updated: ShowBuzzDaily's Top 150 Monday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 7.8.2019". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  20. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (24 July 2019). "Updated: ShowBuzzDaily's Top 150 Monday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 7.15.2019". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  21. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (24 July 2019). "Updated: ShowBuzzDaily's Top 150 Monday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 7.22.2019". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  22. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (30 July 2019). "Updated: ShowBuzzDaily's Top 150 Monday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 7.29.2019". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved 6 August 2019.

External linksEdit