Run, C4, Olivia Colman, Lennie James, Jaime Winstone, Neil Maskell PREVIEW



Rating: ★★★★

Channel 4: Monday 15-Thursday 18 July, 10pm

Story: Four seemingly unconnected stories about people at crunch moments in their lives, including single-mum Carol, whose sons are wanted by the police, and illegal immigrant Ying…

HATS OFF TO CHANNEL 4 for steering clear of the period dramas and cop procedurals we see so much of on the other sides.

Last year they gave us the thought-provoking Murder: Joint Enterprise (which will return), earlier this year we had the jaunty but not entirely successful Utopia. Now C4 is stripping this new rough-edged, four-part drama through the week.

Olivia Colman

Outside of Jimmy McGovern, most TV dramas steer clear of working-class life these days. Run, however, is an honest attempt to bring talented established stars and newcomers together to tell four linking tales that take a walk on the poverty-stricken side of Britain that goes on all around us.

Olivia Colman ditches that nice detective persona from Broadchurch to play a foul-mouthed single mum, bringing up two teenage boys who have few redeeming features. Dean batters his girlfriend Tracey, while Terry tags along.

Carol herself is the kind of woman who is vilified in the media these days for not being middle-class enough. She is coarse, ignores Dean giving Trace a ‘slap’ and nicks stuff from the warehouse where she works. She lives on an estate, is separated from her psycho boyfriend, played sublimely by Neil Maskell, and is fighting to hold her life of tears and fags together.

Carol discovers her sons’ secret

It is while Dean is dragging Trace around by the hair in a car park that a passerby sees him, and carries on passing by. Being a nutter, Dean wants to know what the stranger is looking at, before joining forces with his brother to beat the man to death. Downton Abbey it ain’t.

Carol has an inkling that something’s wrong when she finds the boys’ bloody clothes in the laundry. When she suggests to their father they should tell the police it was an accident, Kieran – whose normal mode of communication is with his fists – punches her.

Run is created and written by newcomers Marlon Smith and Daniel Fajemisin-Duncan and succeeds in

getting us to see the world through Carol’s eyes. It’s brutal, and the language will make your eyes water at times. But for all its bleakness, it finds the traces of humanity that still bind people together despite their poverty and lack of opportunities.

Part two follows up with Ying’s story. We’ve seen her buying stolen goods from Carol, but learn that Ying (Katie Leung) is an illegal immigrant facing a painful future in debt to a Snakehead gang. Wednesday’s story is about struggling heroin addict Richard (Lennie James), and Thursday’s about Kasia (Katharina Schuttler), a Polish woman in London who is struggling to make a living while contending with her gambling-addict boyfriend.

Hard-hitting and affecting, the stories are well-acted and refreshingly frank.

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