One of Us, BBC thriller

Programme Name: One of Us - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 1) - Picture Shows: Claire Elliot (JOANNA VANDERHAM), Moira Douglas (JULIE GRAHAM), Louise Elliot (JULIET STEVENSON), Bill Douglas (JOHN LYNCH), Rob Elliot (JOE DEMPSIE), Jamie Douglas (CRISTIAN ORTEGA), Anna (GEORGINA CAMPBELL), Alastair (GARY LEWIS) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Phil Fisk

Barnstorming – Claire (Joanna Vanderham), Moira (Julie Graham), Louise (Juliet Stevenson), Bill (John Lynch), Rob (Joe Dempsie), Jamie (Cristian Ortega), Anna (Georgina Campbell), Alastair (Gary Lewis)

Secrets spill out when a murderer turns up on the doorstep of his victims’ families

★★★½ BBC1, Tuesday, 23 August, 9pm

FANS OF THE NETFLIX series Bloodline, about the corrupt and dysfunctional Rayburn family, will recognise One of Us as a blood relation.

Programme Name: One of Us - TX: 23/08/2016 - Episode: n/a (No. 1) - Picture Shows: Grace Douglas (KATE BRACKEN), Adam Elliot (JEREMY NEUMARK JONES)) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Hal Shinne

Victims – Grace Douglas (Kate Bracken) and Adam Elliot (Jeremy Neumark Jones)

This BBC production is another thriller ruled by family secrets and animosities. Here the catalyst for opening the can of emotional worms is a shocking double murder.

Through charming family home movies we see that Adam Elliot and Grace Douglas grew from toddler pals to childhood sweethearts and wedded couple. We’re wrenched into the present when the newlyweds are murdered at their flat in Edinburgh.

Killer on their doorstep

Where Bloodline has wayward brother Danny returning home to upset everybody, in One of Us the premise is more bizarre – and chilling. Adam and Grace’s apparent killer, a knife-wielding drug addict, steals a car and heads to the Scottish Highland village of Braeston, where Adam and Grace’s families live.

The stranger is knocked out as he crashes his Lexus during a terrible storm. When the Douglases and Elliots realise who he is – and that he’s wanted by police – they put him, injured and unconscious, in a barn.

 But what should they do with him? Turn him over to the cops, or let him die?

Joanna Vanderham, Ade Edmondson, Juliet Stevenson

One of Us - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 1) - Picture Shows: Claire Elliot (JOANNA VANDERHAM) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Photography Phil Fisk, Design work Matt Burlem

Lone voice – Claire (Joanna Vanderham)

One of Us has a terrific cast and the remote setting is beautiful but haunting. Joanna Vanderham plays the Elliots’ adult daughter who is against taking the law into their own hands. Joe Dempsie is her far more morally compromised brother, Rob.

Juliet Stevenson is an emotional powerhouse as the mother, Louise. She’s on the edge of a breakdown with grief, but is not against some retribution.

Meanwhile, John Lynch and Julie Graham play the uptight Douglases, who are pretty down on their loner son, Jamie.

And at a distance there is Adrian Edmondson as Louise’s ex-husband, who walked out on the family. [Read more…]

Southcliffe Ch4, with Rory Kinnear, Eddie Marsan, Shirley Henderson, Sean Harris

Stephen Morton (played by Sean Harris) Channel 4 Southcliffe
Sean Harris as Stephen Morton in Southcliffe. Pics: Channel 4

Rating: ★★★★

Channel 4: starts Sunday, 4 August, 9pm

Story: As dawn breaks in the sleepy market town of Southcliffe, the unmistakable sound of gunshots rings out…

SUNDAY NIGHT is often reserved for costume fantasies such as Downton Abbey or Upstairs Downstairs. Well, this week Channel 4 is ditching that custom and scheduling a four-parter that should be accompanied by a large whisky rather than a cosy Horlicks.

Southcliffe is the story of a random shooting spree by a loner in a quiet English market town. It is beautifully filmed with almost documentary intensity. It is unsettling, but really sucks you into these ordinary lives, one of which is hurtling horrendously out of control.

David Whitehead (played by Rory Kinnear) and Anthony (played by Al Weaver). Ch4 Southcliffe
Rory Kinnear is the reporter, David Whitehead

At the forefront of the drama is Steve Morton (Sean Harris – The Borgias, Prometheus), a misfit who is so intense he is always standing alone at the bar of his local, as though surrounded by a hostile force field. He is jokingly called the Commander by the locals, mocking his military garb.

Southcliffe and Broadchurch

He claims to have served with the SAS, trains with masochistic intensity and has a small arsenal in his container hideaway. He also cares for his fragile invalid of a mother, who has dementia.

Southcliffe is following ITV’s Broadchurch to some extent in offering a portrait of a community devastated by murder. The town itself, rooted solidly in Anglo Saxon England (it’s filmed in Faversham, Kent), has a military regiment and there are layers of pain among the servicemen we meet there.

Louise (played by Hayley Squires) and Chris Cooper (played by Joe Dempsie) Ch4 Southcliffe
Louise (Hayley Squires) and Chris (Joe Dempsie)

Chris (Joe Dempsie – Skins), who has just returned from Afghanistan to his doting wife, Louise (Hayley Squires), is bought a drink by Steve and tells him that combat was ‘the best fun you can have’. He seems unscathed, but he is secretly taking a lot of medication.

Steve stalks Chris through the forest

Chris’s army friend dies in hospital from wounds he received. And then there is Steve, who seems affronted by Chris apparently having had a ‘good’ war. He offers to help Chris get into shape for the SAS, but instead brutally stalks him through the forest.

‘I think you need help,’ say Chris, in the understatement of the year. It is this incident that tips events towards disaster

Rory Kinnear (Count Arthur Strong, Skyfall) also stars as cynical, bitter reporter David who grew up in Southcliffe and returns to cover the story. Shirley Henderson and Eddie Marsan play a local couple. All of these characters come to the fore after episode one, when the feelings of grief and guilt come to the surface among residents. David, for example, realises he knew the killer many years before…

Channel 4’s on a roll

Paul Gould (played by Anatol Yusef) Ch4 Southcliffe
Paul (Anatol Yusef), right, was Steve’s boss

Southcliffe is directed by Sean Durkin (Martha Marcy May Marlene) and written by Tony Grisoni, who gave us the equally hard-punching Red Riding. He’s done a great job in creating a group of complex, believable figures here, though it is hard to fathom why he told The Guardian that Southcliffe was not about a spree shooting, but rather a story about ‘people robbed of someone very close to them’. That’s true, but the shooting and Steve’s character are also powerful, defining elements in the drama.

Whatever… Channel 4 must be applauded for commissioning such a challenging, mature drama, one that steps away from the formulaic procedurals and whodunits on the other sides. Southcliffe also follows The Mill on Sunday night, making Channel 4 the place to be this weekend.

Part 2 of Southcliffe is on Monday night.

Cast: Sean Harris Stephen Norton, Rory Kinnear David Whitehead, Shirley Henderson Claire Salter, Eddie Marsan Andrew Salter, Hayley Squires Louise, Joe Dempsie Chris Cooper, Anatol Yusef Paul Gould, Coral Amiga Mattie, Paul Blackwell Police officer, Mickey Morris Young Stephen

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