Four of the best from the Orson Welles of Uttoxeter, spanning the 10 years between TwentyFourSeven, his striking black-and-white feature debut and This Is England, Meadows’ tour de force tribute to his skinhead youth, In between you’ll find A Room for Romeo Brass, the writer/ director’s touching depiction of childhood friendship filtered through the bitter hourglass of experience, and his bleak, brilliant ‘Northern Western’ Dead Man’s Shoes.
What you won’t find is Once Upon a Time in the Midlands, the star-studded 2002 misstep that saw this DIY doyen flirt so unhappily with the mainstream. Its absence is amply compensated for by some impressive extras: a quartet of lively, raucous commentaries, a fine behind-the-scenes documentary on Shoes (featuring a bald Johnny Vegas) and a selection of down-and-dirty shorts.
All in all, it’s as much evidence as you’ll ever need of Meadows’ wry humanism and improvisational genius at milking drama and pathos from the everyday. From his broken pugilist in Prophet to his freakish oddball in Romeo Brass to his gas-masked avenger in Shoes, meanwhile, the boxset also offers a gripping guide to Paddy Considine’s inexorable rise from eye-catching bit-parter to bona fide leading man.