The Watchman with Stephen Graham

Channel 4's The Watchman

All eyes – Stephen Graham is Carl, the Watchman

A nail-biting evening spent in the lonely company of Stephen Graham’s CCTV operator

★★★½ C4, Wednesday, 24 August, 9pm

THIS IS A modern take on the 1954 Hitchcock classic Rear Window. Here, however, CCTV is our protagonist’s window on the world.

Carl’s a decent bloke, strong moral outlook, feeling fine about another all-night shift on his own manning the neighbourhood CCTV network.

Ironically, actor Stephen Graham virtually puts in a solo shift as Carl, so few scenes does he share with anyone else.

Stephen Graham The Watchman

All eyes – Carl at work

Writer Dave Nath

Seen recently in The Secret Agent, here Graham plays a more vulnerable character. Carl has a complicated home life, trying over the phone to placate his 16-year-old daughter in her strop with mum, while keeping an eye on a gang of young thugs on the local estate.

He also feels rather impotent in his role as guardian, repeatedly getting the brush-off from the police dispatcher when he tries to get officers to intervene as drugs are being dealt. Not enough manpower he’s told, by the dispatcher who clearly is contemptuous of him.

Writer/director Dave Nath found in his research that this is a common occurrence for CCTV operators. He visited CCTV nerve centres and says, ‘I visited one in particular, to look at the layout and how they worked. I started telling them about some of the storylines in the film. That sense of calling the police about stuff, and the police not being able to respond, was a daily occurrence. Also, the sense that shifts are increasingly one-man shifts. I find that worrying, placing one person in that position. It means your placing a hell of a lot of responsibility on that one person.’ [Read more…]

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