Sugartown is the BBC’s latest comedy drama offering based around a small seaside hamlet in the North. The first of three episodes sees the local community join forces to save their town when it’s threatened with redevelopment.
First things first, Sugartown is a dump. From the locals themselves we hear that ‘nothing good ever happens in Sugartown’ where ‘an aging population and a fading sense of hope’ ‘hasn’t had bingo since ‘83’. The only young person we meet is desperate to leave. New arrivals are equally unimpressed wondering if they ‘have come up North or back in time’. On screen the town is rain-soaked with boarded up shops and a weary looking beach. For an audience to empathise with the community’s ‘fight to retain it’s traditions’ it should surely be apparent what it is that they are trying to preserve?
The locals' plan to attract investment is further proof that life in Sugartown ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. Dredging up a historical ‘reputation for dance’ isn’t exactly current or particularly persuasive. What does the community have going for it now if 'regenerated traditions' from the town's 'glorious past' are their only hope of survival? How too can younger members of the group find enthusiasm for the project to save the town when they have seen nothing of any note in their lifetime?
I’m all for nostalgia, but not for nostalgia’s sake - if it looks like a dump and has stubbornly remained a dump for decades... then it is a dump. In my opinion the town of Sugartown needs to be a sweeter proposition for the community, and thus the audience, to really care.