The Aliens E4 - TV review: A dystopian world with the modern trappings of urban life

It was hard to believe the baddies were black and the so-called goodies white

Aliens crash-landed in the UK 40 years ago and have been living among us ever since. At least, that's the premise of new E4 drama The Aliens. Except they don't live alongside us, they have been banished to a ghetto town called Troy, where they make a living through prostitution, drug dealing and organised crime. 

Sci-fi haters fear not. This is not an alien-infested world of slime and tentacles. Similar to Misfits, E4's Bafta-winning drama, The Aliens fuses a dystopian world with the modern trappings of urban life. It's all sex, drugs and extraterrestrials.

Border guard Lewis (Michael Socha, star of This is England) works to keep the human world free from the sub-class alien breed. But after falling for alien girl Lilyhot (Michaela Coel) on a porn site, his life becomes more complicated – especially when he discovers he is the world's first half-alien. To add to his woes, his sister starts pedalling drugs to under-city Troy, putting his life in danger when he is held up at knife-point by gang leader Christophe (Ashley Walters). 

The plot careers along at a frenetic pace from police hold-up to rave scene to drugs bust. Add the unflinchingly visceral script to the mix and at times the atmosphere is so dizzying you too might want to be sick in a bin like Lewis. 

But the plot is easy enough to follow once you grasp what's going on. It's the characterisation that held the episode back. Pathetic Lewis, the supposed hero, was so forlorn it was hard to feel sorry for him. And while Channel 4 may have led the way on on-screen diversity in recent years, it was hard to believe the “baddies” were black and the so-called goodies white. As the episode geared up to the final “aliens vs humans” scene, there was little to invest in.