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Series: G.B.H.
G.B.H. is a drama by Alan Bleasdale that was first shown on British TV in 1991. It has elements both of British Conspiracy Thriller and psychological drama, as well as pure comedy and farce. The plot concerns Michael Murray (Robert Lindsay), the charismatic and far-left leader of an unspecified northern City Council who, as a show of strength against the then Conservative government, calls a one day strike of all council services, except that a Special Needs school is accidently not picketed. The headmaster, Jim Nelson (Michael Palin) is then asked to apologise for turning up to work as usual. He refuses, causing him to be a target for Michael Murray's thuggish supporters. The rest of the series concerns the conflict between the two men as well as their own psychological battles; Michael Murray, in particular, is haunted by a traumatic incident from his childhood. Gradually, it is revealed that both men are merely pawns in a game designed by the British Establishment to discredit the Left.

Oh, and by the way, the title refers not to Grievous Bodily Harm, but The Great British Holiday (a good proportion of the series takes place at an awful holiday camp).

Contains the following tropes

  • Actor Allusion: Michael Palin gives a speech in which he claims not to believe in Messiahs...as well as claiming not to be a missionary (Palin wrote and starred in a film called The Missionary).
  • Author Filibuster: Jim Nelson's speech in the final episode, which Alan Bleasdale admitted was a statement of his own philosophy.
  • Ax-Crazy: Eileen Critchley apparently had some severe mental problems at a very young age, but they weren't noticed, as everyone was paying more attention to Michael Murray. These later resulted in her hanging herself in college
  • Berserk Button: Michael dislikes being called "Mickey" by his older brother, and starts to react angrily to people saying he's going bald once Jim Nelson remarks on it.
  • Character Tics: As his world crumbles around him, Murray starts to develop a Twitchy Eye, then his arm starts shooting up or out uncontrollably
  • Children Are Cruel: Eileen Critchley, full stop
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Mr. Weller is this trope played for drama. Thanks to Michael's torment of him, he's a barely contained bag of neuroses.
  • Cowardly Lion: Jim Nelson is a total hypochondriac as well as having a phobia of bridges. However, when threatened by Murray's thugs, he becomes a total Badass.
  • Creepy Child: Eileen Critchley is both incredibly intense, disturbingly morbid, and seems to enjoy causing Michael Murray misery a bit too much
  • Deadpan Snarker: Jim Nelson whenever he has to talk to Michael Murray
  • Do with Him as You Will: The young thugs who have been stirring racial tensions by beating up black people while dressed as policemen are betrayed by their controller who hands them over to a gang of black rioters. They are only beaten up and humiliated rather than killed, but he doesn't seem to care; he laughs hysterically as he watches them dragged from their van.
  • Driven to Suicide: Eileen Critchley, several years before the series began
  • Exact Words: Jim Nelson is well aware of the city-wide strike, but ignores it because his union has defined strike breaking as crossing a picket line, and Murray's goons forgot to picket his school
  • Freudian Excuse: Michael Murray attributes his behaviour to an incident in his childhood when he was tormented by a girl called Eileen Critchley.
  • Initialism Title
  • The Mole: There are several people that Michael Murray is working with who are secretly conspiring to discredit and destroy him (and with him the Left), but the best example of this trope would probably be Barbara
  • Mood Whiplash: A hilarious scene in which Michael Murray attempts to buy condoms in the middle of a Doctor Who convention is almost immediately followed by the savage beating of a black waiter.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Michael Murray is based on Derek Hatton, the notorious Deputy Leader and de facto boss of Liverpool City Council in the 1980s. During a chance meeting with Bleasdale while the series was in production, Hatton, who had heard about it, said that he didn't mind how he was portrayed as long as the actor was handsome.
  • Pet the Dog: Michael Murray may be corrupt and a bit of a bully, but he is also decidedly anti-racist, being well-known among the Labour establishment for his ability to relate to black and Asian (aka from the Indian subcontinent) constituents
  • Playing Against Type: Michael Palin, who made his name as a member of Monty Python, plays a troubled character in a serious drama.
  • Posthumous Character: Eileen Critchley
  • Smug Snake: The Conservative reporter who dogs Michael Murray throughout the series and ends up working with the conspiracy to discredit him
  • Trojan Gauntlet: Mike Murray, eager to make love to the beautiful blonde waiting in his hotel room, tries to find a packet of condoms in the middle of a Doctor Who convention. Unfortunately the hotel's vending machine is empty thanks to a large influx of firemen the previous night. Mike has to borrow some from the hotel's owner who's in his office with several conventioneers, including one dressed as a Dalek.
    Mike: Where do you keep your Durex? I need to be armed!
    Dalek: DUREX, THE BIGGEST THREAT, EXTERMINATE THEM ALL! EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE! EX-(someone hits Dalek on the dome) OW!
    Hotel owner: Well I've got two in my wallet...
    Dalek: TWO?
    Hotel Owner: I don't work social hours, you know!
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Jim Nelson is deathly afraid of going over bridges
    • Merely mentioning Eileen Critchley's name is enough to send Michael Murray into hysterics
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Michael Murray; to make things worse, his father died before he was born

FPSShort TitlesGo
Gavin and StaceyBritish SeriesGeorge and Mildred

alternative title(s): GBH
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