Dreamland, Year 1 - AD Introduction

AD Introduction of Dreamland, Series 1

This is an audio described introduction to Dreamland, a new six-part series on Sky Atlantic. The introduction provides detailed descriptions of the characters and locations, which there may not be time to include in the broadcast audio description.

Based on Sky’s 2018 BAFTA-winning short of the same name, Dreamland is a comedy-drama about the secrets, lies, loves and aspirations of a family spanning four generations, set in the seaside town of Margate. The action unfolds against a colourful backdrop of beach huts, billboards, and the bustling attractions of the Dreamland funfair. It’s the height of a sun-drenched summer, and most of the characters wear bright and breezy clothing that befits the vibrant setting.

Trish, Mel, Clare, and Leila are four sisters, now in their thirties, who grew up in Margate. Mel, who’s just returned from a period of working in the Paris fashion industry, stands out from the others due to her grungy appearance. In her mid-thirties, her hair’s dyed jet black; she wears dark make-up on her pale white face and has six or seven piercings in each ear. She arrives in Margate on a blistering hot day, with her bare legs poking out from beneath a hooded black raincoat. She causes a stir when she turns up to a family party already intoxicated. The role of Mel is played by Lily Allen and marks her television debut.

Mel’s older sister, Trish, played by Freema Agyeman, is a mixed-race woman with brown skin and long braids in her dark hair. An estate agent by trade, Trish’s passionate, attention-to-detail personality is matched by her dress sense. Pregnant with her third child, in Episode 1, Trish throws a ‘Manifestation party’, with a pink theme, reflecting her desire for a girl to complete her family. She accessorises her pink top and skirt with dangling heart earrings and butterfly hairclips. For a trip to the funfair, she wears a bright blue cropped halter neck with a knee-length denim skirt, large silver hoop earrings and a sunflower-yellow scrunchie.

Trish’s husband, Spence, is a medium built black man with a shaved head and a short beard and moustache. Initially seen dressed for the party in a pink Hawaiian style shirt, he later wears a more understated t-shirt and baseball cap. Trish and Spence have two sons, Jordan, who’s 12 and Cayden, who’s 7.

Clare and Leila are Trish and Mel’s younger sisters. Clare is a slim white woman with wavy ginger-blond hair that’s cut in a bob. Seemingly the most level-headed of all the sisters, she has a ‘no-fuss’ style, wearing open shirts over cotton t shirts and shorts, in pale and neutral colours. Clare works as a journalist on local stories and attends a local creative writing class.

At 30 years old, Leila is the baby of the family. She’s white with long, wavy brown hair. When she’s not dressed in overalls for her job as a refuse collector, her rainbow coloured, heavily accessorised hippy-ish wardrobe is coupled with a naïve smile that makes her seem younger than her years.

Leila’s style echoes that of Cheryl, who is mum to the four women. In her sixties, she’s a white woman with wavy red hair who dresses in bright, flowing kaftans with statement jewellery. She enjoys a dip in the sea, where she wears a fabulously flowery swimming hat and a leopard-print bathing suit. Unbeknownst to her family, Cheryl is in a relationship with Diane, a fifty-something woman who’s recently moved to Margate from London. Diane is a black woman with a pale brown complexion and honey-coloured highlights in her long, tightly curled hair. She’s often seen in a sarong or a dressing gown with bold prints in natural tones of green, brown, or orange.

Two more grandmothers complete the family line-up: Cheryl’s mum, referred to as ‘Nan’, is a white-haired octogenarian with piercing blue eyes. She wears clip-on shades over her plastic rimmed glasses, completing her striking look with a crucifix over a layered outfit of clashing patterns. Her house-shoes are a pair of pink crocs adorned with the word ‘Nan’ surrounded by flowers, butterflies, and fruit. Spence’s mum, Elizabeth, features only at the pink themed party. A round-faced black woman of around 60 years old, she wears a demure floral dress and has her afro hair pulled into a tidy pleat.

As the story unfolds, we meet a few characters from outside the family, including Dom, a white man in his thirties whose hipster moustache, round-framed glasses and vintage patterned shirt leave the locals unsurprised that he’s recently moved to Margate from London.

The domestic scenes of the series take place across various family homes. Cheryl’s house, where the four sisters grew up, is situated on a low-rise council estate. The modest terraced property has boxy rooms and a small garden with decking, gravel, and a shed. Inside, the bright and busy décor reflects Cheryl’s bold tastes and the house’s function as the centre of family life. Leila and Nan live there with Cheryl.

In episode 1, Trish’s party takes place at Cheryl’s, rather than at the house where she lives with Spence and their children. While they have their own place on the same estate, Trish dreams of moving. She and Spence have their eye on a property that’s up for auction; a blue-rendered bay-fronted house in need of serious renovation. Its front garden is a scrapheap of thrown-out furniture; inside, brickwork can be seen through holes in the plaster and bare floorboards are littered with empty beer bottles.

Clare lives alone in a flat that’s part of a converted Victorian terrace. It has small open-plan kitchen and living area with a sleek, modern finish. Mel stays there, sleeping on the sofa, when she returns from France.

Although Dreamland centres on a family, it also places a spotlight on Margate, celebrating a town that might have had its heyday many moons ago but is enjoying a revival today. The skyline is a glorious concoction of blockish concrete rising above what remains of Victorian era architecture, with vibrant graffiti covering entire walls and hoardings. The Dreamland funfair, which celebrated its centenary in 2020, is a rainbow of carousels and rollercoasters that’s been lovingly restored and attracts large crowds of pleasure-seekers. Above the park, a faded sign on a tired brown brick building reads ‘Dreamland welcomes you.’ Preserved despite its appearance; its weathered charm is synonymous with complex and colourful Margate we get to know over the course of the series.

Dreamland will be on Sky Atlantic with audio description from 6th April 2023 at 9pm.

By Jennifer Elbourne