Updated: Jan 15
Directed by: Miles Anthony
Written by: Miles Anthony
Starring: Alexander Greensmith, Evadne Fisher, Mike Newbold, Miles Anthony
A group of TV licensing enforcement officers are making sure people are paying for their licenses. No matter the cost.
Reith (Greensmith) is a TV license enforcement officer, who is struggling to get the job done. After reporting to his boss, the regional manager Colonel Adrian Montgomery (Newbold), he decides to provide Reith with some assistance: the more experienced officer John Null (Anthony). Aggressive and determined, John will show Reith how to make people pay.
This short dark comedy is a satire on the world of TV licensing. It is an exaggeration for the techniques of license officers and how they affect people. Anthony was motivated to make this film after the BBC's decision to cancel free TV licenses for pensioners.
The story and characters are rather interesting and amusing. Greensmith portrays a rather likeable individual, who has manners and cares about other people. He is also no very willing to stand his ground. When he goes to an elderly woman's house to enquire about a license, he attempts to ask about a license, but ends up having a nice conversation with her about knitting and clothing. The woman, whose name is Sybil (Fisher) comes across as very friendly and cheerful and she deliberately avoids talking about a license. Newbold delivers an over-the-top performance as the regional manager Colonel Montgomery, who behaves like he is an actual army colonel, constantly shouting and giving orders. He also sits in an office that is filled with Union Jack flags, wears an eyepatch and has a well-kept moustache. And finally there is John, who comes across as more of a bully than anything else. He throws insults, swears, takes his job very seriously and shows no concern for other people's wellbeing.
It should be noted that, according to Anthony, the characters of Reith and John are meant to represent the two faces of the BBC. Reith is kind and caring. He wears a coat, scarf and glasses that make him resemble Doctor Who, representing the fantastic achievements of the company. John, on the other hand, represents the negative side. He is rude and puts the company's demands above anything, even people's lives.
Numerous times throughout, the film cuts to old footage from the seventies (the plot is set during that time), that consist of adverts regarding TV license. For instance, there is an old advert that shows a TV license officer speaking to a man about their license inside their home. All the footage is edited very effectively into the film.
The filmmakers utilize interesting techniques. They use split screen, wipe transition and quick zoom in to great effect and title cards in order to introduce characters. The use of sound is also creative, with a bass guitar being heard when a dramatic action is taken. The soundtrack is rather entertaining and accompanies the atmosphere very well, for example, when the Colonel speaks, military music is heard.
Although this project is meant to be satirical, it also has heavy drama, caused by a very inhumane action.
Licengoons offers a comical and over-the-top view into the world of TV licensing. It has awkward and funny moments, but also devastating ones. It shows the good side of the BBC but also suggests that some of its TV licensing policies could be unfair.