“It’s a triumph of sense, sensibility and style”

Boat Story

Boat Story, BBC1

“Boat Story juggles a perilous number of balls, but keeps them aloft without showing any strain. It’s a triumph of sense, sensibility and style. I love it.”
Lucy Mangan, The Guardian

“I applaud its attempt to be different and not just another boring old drugs/cops/gangster tale, of which there have been umpteen tedious variations. I loved its cast, especially Daisy Haggard, Paterson Joseph, Joanna Scanlan and Ethan Lawrence (the funny mummy’s boy James from After Life). Good too was some of its comedy dialogue, which at times edged towards the surreal. We could do with more — much more — of this. I loathed, however, its hideous violence.”
Carol Midgley, The Times

“The mix of extreme violence and ironic dialogue felt as though the Williams brothers were trying to get in touch with their inner Coen brothers or early Tarantino (before he developed some emotional heft to counterbalance the gleefully sadistic violence). Either way, Boat Story‘s tone was uncertain. You might even call it experimental.”
Gerard Gilbert, The i

“The Williams brothers, who are also the directors, are able to play with videogame violence because they have twin television superpowers. One is an ability to draw complex, sympathetic characters with a few deft strokes. The writers’ other trump card is that they can attract a stellar cast.”
Christopher Stevens, Daily Mail

“Squid Game: The Challenge not only works, but may turn out to be the most gripping reality TV since The Traitors. Like its parent show, it ladles on the operatic soundtrack and slow-motion shots. It is an unapologetic spectacle. As the episodes progress, the contestants start to take it all wonderfully seriously, which only adds to the preposterousness.”
Rebecca Nicholson, The Guardian

“The drama is a savage critique of capitalism’s iniquities. With its grotesquely large prize, this Squid Game is comfortable endorsing greed. It leaves a sour taste, to palliate which there are cutaways to interviews with contestants revealing difficult back stories, if never as remorselessly blighted as in the drama.”
Jasper Rees, The Telegraph

“The show isn’t even pretending it’s about anything else. As far as it’s concerned, its contestants are now Nigel Farage and a bunch of cut-price chaff. Some of them spent the opening episode balancing on a pole on top of a skyscraper, during which Fred from First Dates made a lot of fuss about the state of his testicles. Some of the others had a bunch of ants tipped on them. But really they’re just the supporting act to the xenophobe, and it would be silly to pretend otherwise.”
Stuart Heritage, The Guardian

“Farage pulled off his first task brilliantly, putting his head in a hole in a burnt-out van full of snakes and getting tokens to help everyone get a meal. As for the rest it was the usual whizzbang, loud nonsense full of gunk, bugs and serpents, which frequently stretched the definition of ‘celebrity’ with some of the contestants.”
Ben Dowell, The Times

“At 59, he is a year younger than Brad Pitt, but with his trousers pulled up to his Adam’s Apple and no idea how anybody else on the show is famous, he looked like a harmless, doddery 85-year-old. Naturally, he was voted to take on the first trial, and acted thrilled. It’s just as he planned it. Farage has his audience – now he’ll give them precisely what they want.”
Guy Kelly, The Telegraph

“On the basis of the first episode, there will be the usual lack of real jeopardy (we’re a litigious society, after all), surplus of animal cruelty (grubs have feelings too, same as Farage), and deathly unfunny presentation by the superannuated Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly. Not that I’m looking for sympathy, but I feel like I’ve been reviewing this nonsense since the old Queen was on the throne (Victoria, not Elizabeth), and it doesn’t improve with age.”
Sean O’Grady, The Independent