These Days has a long history as a concept. The show's creator/writer/producer, Noxy, began work on a premise for These Days in the autumn of 2001, partly inspired by the ITV drama serial Night And Day. This original version of the show, which was only ever paper-based, had an unusual structure. The first series was written and set in 2002, with a second series written and set in 2005 and a third in 2008. However, Noxy ceased writing the show permanently around 200 episodes in, in 2009, feeling that it had lost its way and become too dark.
Two years later, in 2011, Noxy joined an online creative writing forum called Writers Express, which she would later go on to own and run. This prompted her to start These Days again, publishing it online for the first time in November 2011. The project became an overnight success, and went on to win 32 Writers Express Awards, more than any other in the forum's history. The show was lauded for its intelligent writing, believable characters and original storylines. However, it was announced in August 2014 that, after 164 episodes, Noxy was to discontinue the project, again feeling it had lost its way and become too dark. In a statement at the time, Noxy said she was 'truly humbled' by the support the forum had given the project over the last three years, but that she felt she had taken it as far as it could go in its current form. However, she hoped to bring it back at some point in 2015, as well as to pursue fresh projects in the mean time.
On Thursday 25th December/Christmas Day 2014, Noxy announced that These Days to return to the forum in double bills published every Friday from Janauary 2015, with the exception of the first double bill on Thursday 1st January/New Year's Day 2015. She also confirmed that this would not mark a continuation of the project, but a reboot of it, starting from Episode 1. Off the record, this is known as 'These Days 2.0', though all online branding simply states 'These Days'. The first version of 'These Days' was subsequently rebranded 'These Days 1.0', and remains available on the 'Classic Projects' board on the Writers Express forum.
The 2.0 version offers a number of significant distinctions from the original version. In 1.0, Middlehampton and Newben were towns said to be in the vicinity of Leicester, whereas in 2.0, they are both suburbs of Leicester itself. The show's 'original original' female character, Lisa Hopkins, retained her maiden name when she was married to the show's 'original original' male character, Glen Wright, in 1.0. However, she has adopted the married name Lisa Wright in 2.0. This, according to Noxy, is to establish the family of these characters with the de facto surname Wright, even though their adopted children do not use the surname as part of their own names. In 1.0, Lisa runs a modelling agency until around halfway through Season 1, when the modelling agency is closed, and she goes on to become a bar manager at The Moonshine Inn public house. However in 2.0, Lisa runs a salon called Fabulous! with a business partner, an entirely new character called Jason Warren. Gay Jason is also Lisa's best friend, as well as a new sibling for 1.0's Warren clan. Fabuous! itself is also an entirely new set.
Hotel worker Steven, known as Steven Cowell in 1.0, has had his surname changed and is now known as Steven Measham. Noxy is said to have 'always hated' Cowell as Steven's surname, as it reminded her of a certain music producer and talent show judge with the same surname. Steven himself no longer lives at the hotel, nor does mechanic Jack Mason have his own flat. Instead, Steven, Jack and Lee Rogers all now share a house together. In another change, Lee no longer runs a newsagents, but a petrol station shop instead. The hotel that Steven works at, Hotel Republic, was known as The Blue Royale in Season 1 and for the first trimester of Season 2. Up until that point it was an independent hotel, before being taken over by an international chain called Hotel Republic. However in 2.0, Hotel Republic is the name of the establishment and a chain hotel from the outset.
One of the most signifcant set of changes applies to the show's pub, The Moonshine Inn. The pub wasn't introduced into 1.0 until Episode 47, when it was run by James Warren and co-managed by Anita Johnson (who would go on to become his romantic partner and mother to his daughter) and later Lisa Hopkins. However in 2.0. the pub is a set from the beginning, and it is run by the Donnelly parents, Maxine and Phil, who make their first appearance far earlier (in 1.0, Maxine debuted in Episode 100, Phil in 126). James also appears much earlier, and is the pub chef in 2.0.
Another significant change is the presence of the Patel family. In 1.0, Chandra Patel was an original character. Her sister Sabrina was introduced towards the end of Season 1, and they occasionally mentioned a brother, Jamal. In 2.0, Chandra remains an original character - however her brother and her parents will also be there from the outset, the patent running an entirely new set - an Indian restaurant called Curry Favour. Sabrina will turn up later but still far earlier than in 1.0. Sabrina will initially be a recurring character, later becoming a regular. Noxy felt that the Patels 'somehow never quite established themselves' in 1.0, and feels having the whole family there from the outset will change this.
Several characters - Phil Tucker, Adrian Manning, Andrew Jones, Vicky Tyler and Gemma Tyler - all appeared in early episodes of 1.0. However, they have been totally disregarded for 2.0. In contrast, other minor characters from 1.0 such as Mark Johnson, Lindsay Adams, Keeley Thompson and Sarah Reuben, will see their characters dramatically expanded.
More minor changes include the following:
- Liz Doyle's eatery, Doyle's,' is now simply a cafe rather than a restaurant
- Newben College is now known as Leicester City College
- Newben General is now known as Newben City Hospital
Another notable aspect of These Days 2.0 is how it appears to have been significantly 'scaled down', something Noxy herself freely admitted. 'The original idea was that I always felt slightly bored of the same old formula with soaps - Coronation Street set on one street, EastEnders set on one square etc. I was always more interested by Emmerdale's location premise (set across an entire village) and also that of Neighbours and Home And Away, both of which were set across whole suburbs. I definitely drew inspiration from that broader location context. But now I feel that with TD 1.0, it had all gotten a bit too big and too broad. You had the likes of Steven and Hannah more-or-less confined to the hotel, the likes of the Wykins and the Taylors in their own little soap bubbles, and really there was very little mixing things up, characters and storylines overlapping and such. The big restaurant, the huge hotel - it was all so bloated and most characters rarely mixed because let's face it, what are the chances you would meet or know them if it was all spread across two towns? Now that Middlehampton and Newben are simply suburbs of Leicester, it brings the characters and stories much closer together, but not claustophobically close - after all, Leicester is a pretty big city! The same goes for the title card. No more over-ambitious patchworks of Leicester city centre anymore! Just a humble street of houses in Leicester somewhere. Bringing it all back down to earth and keeping it simple - that's kind of how culture is nowadays and I'm fully on board with that.'
'But the scaling down applies in other ways as well. One of the most appealing things about TD, particularly in its early days, is its intimacy. That's something I felt was lost along the way, and I had to think long and hard about why that was. And I believe that over-scaling was a factor. So now Liz just runs a little cafe rather than a huge restaurant. That way the conversations and the dramas that happen there take precedence over the set. I suppose the scaling down thing also applies to the Wright family. In 1.0, they didn't have a proper name because they all had different surnames! So in the end, I just gave them the de facto name The Leading Family. At the time that was probably the best thing to do, but looking back, I'm not so sure. Calling them the leading family kind of makes them seem like they are THE family, more important than any of the others in TD, and that was wrong. It also puts pressure on those characters to be front and centre most of the time, which is an impediment to both them and other families in the show. At the end of the day, fans of the show will always have their favourites, but as a soap writer you mustn't. A soap is an ensemble drama with an ensemble cast, and good writing shouldn't deliberately gear people towards or away from certain characters at the expense of others. Obviously some characters are better, stronger, more interesting than others, but that's a seperate issue, in my opinion. It's a very fine line.'
'So anyway, even though Danielle and Liam don't and won't share the Wright surname, Glen and LIsa will, hence they will be known by the de facto surname the Wright family. That way they are just A family, not THE family. I'll let viewers decide that this time!'
Noxy has said that the diversity of the characters is also of prime importance. 'With 1.0, we had the leading family, who were basically the only family, and everyone else was either young, free and single or bits of families, e.g. a pair of siblings. Later on, the focus switched to an increasing number of families, starting with the Wykins and later the Donnellys. But I think that shift from non-family oriented to suddenly family-oriented was rather jarring and sort of made TD feel different. It's great for a show to grow and experiment with new things, but the way it 'feels' should never fundamentally change, otherwise it's kind of lost. And I feel that's how 1.0 ended up. There should have been a broader mix of both family and non-family units from the very beginning, as there will be this time.'
'Also I must admit, I was a little lazy with 1.0 in the early days. The first 40 episodes or so are basically word-for-word ports from paper to computer. No genuinely original material started seeping through 1.0 until around then. But there's the rub - a lot of the mistakes I feel TD made were early on. Certain characters, situations and set-ups in the first 40 episodes, should simply never have happened. And it's because they did that is partly to blame for 1.0 burning out. So basically, rule number one - ALWAYS go back to the drawing board, no shortcuts! And that's what I did. What I have tried to do is work out what went wrong, what could have been different, what could have worked better and so on, and put it right. The end result I hope is an improved vision of TD, something that is instantly recognisable and endearing to fans, but also noticably stronger and better developed. At the end of the day 1.0 was three years ago. In that time, working on written projects both alone and with others, I have learned infinite amounts of things creatively that I really had no clue about three years ago. I feel I'm a better writer and know how to do things now that I didn't now. Also, many of the early episodes had no dialogue and very sparse description. So the opportunity to flesh those out for the first time ever was too good to miss. So hopefully those are all the things I will try to bring to 2.0. It could die on its arse of course, but at least I tried!'
The show also has a new theme tune - Rounds by trip-hop duo Lamb. 'I love 1.0's theme tune - who doesn't love Massive Attack's Unfinished Sympathy? But if I'd carried that song over to represent 2.0, it would kind of felt like being stuck in the past. 2.0 is moving TD forwards, and as part of that, I felt like a new and more modern song was needed. There were valid complaints from some quarters that 1.0 had gotten too gloomy towards the end, and in a way, gloomy old Unfinished Sympathy probably didn't help! These Days is a sober, emotional soap but I never wanted it to be miserable. Lamb are one of my favourite bands anyway, but their 2011 song Rounds I just thought would be perfect for TD 2.0. As a song it's quite sparse and gentle, yet with an epic quality bubbling under, and I felt that really captured what These Days was about. It's a bittersweet song but with a sense of hope - that's kind of a metaphor for life, and a metaphor for These Days. And the lyrics are just so perfect: "I guess we all just find our way" and "It seems to me that, as the years go by, more questions than the answers come to mind". We stay hopeful though life is uncertain is the basic message, and one I could connect with.'
|Status||Character||Actor||Duration (by episodes)||Duration (by year)|
|Regular||Lisa Wright||Alin Sumawarta||1-||2016-|
|Regular||Glen Wright||Samuel Anderson||1-||2016-|
|Reccuring||Sophie Jane Wright||Uncredited||1||2016|
|Regular||Rosy Lyons||Emma Rigby||1-||2016-|
|Recurring||Liz Doyle||Lysette Anthony||1-||2016-|
|Regular||Danielle Harvey||Jodie Bagnell||1-||2016-|
|Regular||Liam Hardacre||Shaun Blackstock||1-||2016-|
|Regular||Anita Johnson||Michelle Monaghan||1-||2016-|
|Regular||Jason Warren||John Partridge||2-||2016-|
|Regular||Maxine Donnelly||Denise Welch||2-||2016-|
|Regular||Lee Rogers||Chris Fountain||2-||2016-|
|Regular||Rachel Hornby||Alice Connor||2-||2016-|
|Regular||Steven Measham||Max Brown||2-||2016-|
|Regular||Keeley Thompson||Alice Barlow||2-||2016-|
|Regular||Phil Donnelly||David Crellin||2-||2016-|
|Regular||Donna Lynch||Samantha Mumba||2-||2016-|
|Regular||Ricki Wells||Heather Peace||2-||2016-|
|Regular||Lindsay Adams||Anna Shaffer||2-||2016-|
|Regular||Carrie Donnelly||Karen GIllan||2-||2016-|
|Regular||Noah Donnelly||Geordie Holibar||2-||2016-|
|Regular||Steph Donnelly||Iris Strubegger||2-||
|Status||Character||Actor||Appearances (by episodes)||Most Recent Episode||Total||%|
|Regular||Anita Johnson||Michelle Monaghan||1||1||1||50%|
|Regular||Carrie Donnelly||Karen GIllan||2||2||1||50%|
|Regular||Danielle Harvey||Jodie Bagnell||1||1||1||50%|
|Regular||Donna Lynch||Samantha Mumba||2||2||1||50%|
|Regular||Glen Wright||Samuel Anderson||1||1||1||50%|
|Regular||Jason Warren||John Partridge||2||2||1||50%|
|Regular||Keeley Thompson||Alice Barlow||2||2||1||50%|
|Regular||Lee Rogers||Chris Fountain||2||2||1||50%|
|Regular||Liam Hardacre||Shaun Blackstock||1||1||1||50%|
|Regular||Lindsay Adams||Anna Shaffer||2||2||1||50%|
|Regular||Lisa Wright||Alin Sumawarta||1-2||2||2||100%|
|Recurring||Liz Doyle||Lysette Anthony||1||1||1||50%|
|Regular||Maxine Donnelly||Denise Welch||2||2||1||50%|
|Regular||Noah Donnelly||Geordie Holibar||2||2||1||50%|
|Regular||Phil Donnelly||David Crellin||2||2||1||50%|
|Regular||Rachel Hornby||Alice Connor||2||2||1||50%|
|Regular||Ricki Wells||Heather Peace||2||2||1||50%|
|Regular||Rosy Lyons||Emma Rigby||1-2||2||2||100%|
|Reccuring||Sophie Jane Wright||Uncredited||1||1*||1||50%|
|Regular||Steph Donnelly||Iris Strubegger||2||2||1||50%|
|Regular||Steven Measham||Max Brown||2||2||1||50%|