Years And Years, BBC One

Finally, someone has turned Trump, the refugee crisis, the rise of the Right and the multi-party car crash that is Brexit into a six-part drama that manages to be terrifying, funny, political and family-focussed all at the same time. That someone is Russell T Davies, who engineered the BBC’s hugely successful Doctor Who re-boot and under whose guidance its storylines and characters became emblematic of the diverse and instinctively inclusive country which now feels itself under attack from Leavers and Little Englanders. In a sense that over-arching project continues here.

The premise is simple enough. In last week’s opening episode we were introduced to a sprawling Mancunian family centred on the four Lyons siblings – Rosie (Ruth Madeley), Daniel (Davies regular Russell Tovey), Stephen (Rory Kinnear) and Edith (Jessica Hynes) – and their domineering grandmother Muriel (Anne Reid). Rosie uses a wheelchair (as does Madeley) and has two sons by different dads, one of whom is Chinese. Daniel is gay and married to primary school teacher Ralph (Dino Fetscher) but is falling for someone else. Stephen is married to Celeste (T’Nia Miller) and has two biracial daughters. Edith is a semi-famous eco-anarchist always off in some political hotspot. Like most families, this one is messy.

But their personalities and the important aspects of their lives were sketched in only briefly before Davies hit fast forward, taking us from the day of transmission – literally: in one scene we heard a newsreader announcing the death of Doris Day – to 2024. And what a year that turned out to be. Donald Trump was a week away from leaving office after a second term, the US was on the verge of nuclear war with China, the UK had finally left the EU, Russia had invaded Ukraine causing Manchester to fill with refugees, and a barnstorming populist called Viv Rook (Emma Thompson, having the time of her life by the look of it) had formed her own political party.

The dropping of a nuclear bomb formed the backdrop to episode one’s tense and emotional closing scenes, but it was the fine brush work in the Lyons’s domestic lives that helped make it resonant so much. Take Stephen and Celeste’s daughter, Bethany: in one of the funniest and most Black Mirror-y moments, she told her parents she was trans. They responded in typical liberal parent fashion, with hugs and assurances – until they realised she meant trans-human, a 2024-ism to describe those people who want to become digital and merge with the cloud. Cue slammed doors and tantrums. But what chance of becoming trans-human if the servers hosting the cloud are vaporised in a nuclear armageddon?

Sure, Years And Years isn’t subtle. But it’s fuelled by wit, empathy, a keen eye for satire and the sort of righteous anger we don’t see enough of from our national broadcaster. So who cares?