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…]

Accused — Killer TV No.33


Stephen Graham and Sean Bean – Tracie’s Story

BBC1, 2010-2012

‘You’re the bitch. Right? Till you prove yourself in battle, till you return fire when under fire, you’re the bitch.’ Corporal Buckley (Frankie’s Story)

Anne-Marie Duff, Olivia Colman, Joe Dempsie, John Bishop, Warren Brown, Peter Capaldi, Mackenzie Crook, Juliet Stevenson, Christopher Eccleston, Marc Warren, Andy Serkis, Naomie Harris, Anna Maxwell Martin, Sean Bean, Stephen Graham

Identikit: As each week’s main character climbs into the dock, the events leading to their being accused and tried for a crime are revealed.

‘No police procedure, thanks very much, no coppers striding along corridors with coats flapping. Just crime and punishment – the two things that matter most in any crime drama’ – that’s how writer Jimmy McGovern described his anthology series. Each story features an ordinary person who ends up in the dock. How did they get there, and do they deserve to walk free or be locked up? The hook for McGovern is the ‘There but for the grace of God go I’ aspect to the lives of many working class people, the fine line between trying to do the right thing and ending up on the wrong side of the law. Such are McGovern’s credentials as the writer of powerful UK television dramas such as Cracker, Hillsborough and The Street that Accused pulled in the cream of British screen talent.

[Read more…]

Accused 1, Inspector Montalbano 2 DVD REVIEW

DVD: ★★★★½
Extras: ★★★

Six episodes of terrific writing and great acting. Jimmy McGovern, the man behind Cracker, The Street and The Lakes and the lead writer on these stories, is so respected by actors that this hard-hitting series about men and women who find themselves accused of crimes attracted an A-list of British talent – Marc Warren, Andy Serkis, Christopher Eccleston, Naomie Harris, Mackenzie Crook, Ben Smith, Peter Capaldi and Juliet Stevenson. Each story is powerful, dealing with moral dilemmas and ordinary people at crisis points in their lives who end up in the dock – but should they be there? And each begs the question of what would you, the viewer, have done. The series won an International Emmy for best drama, along with Christopher Eccleston for best actor, as the man who finds a wodge of cash in a taxi and ends up in a great deal of trouble. Mackenzie Crook plays against his comic persona as a psychotic soldier, while Marc Warren is the dad who goes after a man suspected of assaulting his daughter, with tragic results. This story, Jimmy McGovern reveals in the DVD’s extras, was partly based on his own experience. ‘There is a fine line between being in prison and out of prison,’ says McGovern. ‘There but for the grace of god…’ Thought-provoking and compelling drama.
Running time: 385 mins, two discs. RRP £19.99. Cert 15

DVD: ★★★★ 

Extras: ★★★ 
This Italian-made dramatisation of Andrea Camilleri‘s popular novels, starring Luca Zingaretti as Montalbano, captures much of the magic of the books – the setting, the Sicilian lifestyle, the food and the interplay of characters – some wily, some comic. This three-DVD set has six 90-minute films, most of which were shown in the UK earlier this year (but were actually made a decade or so ago). These are Excursion to Tindari, The Artist’s Touch, Montalbano’s Croquettes, The Scent of the Night and The Goldfinch and the Cat. Though the series is subtitled and tucked away on BBC4, it has won a loyal core of devotees. The stories deal with chilling crimes involving murder or drugs, with Montalbano swerving between the Mafia and the expediences of his superiors, while viewers undoubtedly revel in the glimpses into Sicilian life, Montalbano’s beautiful beach house and his infidelity, as he occasionally sneaks away from his lover to enjoy a favourite meal. Gripping and mouthwatering at the same time. Extras include a biography of Andrea Camilleri.
Running time: 611mins, three discs, RRP £25.99, Cert 15

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Lewis – series 5 PREVIEW

Hathaway (Laurence Fox) and Lewis (Kevin Whately). Pics: (C) ITV Plc

Rating ★★★

ITV1, from Sunday, 3 April, 8pm

Lewis series five will be getting some viewers very excited. This spin-off from the fondly remembered Inspector Morse is as comfy as an old glove, and the Oxford setting as distantly aspirational as an idealised university town can be.

And it’s still lush (as they say in Wales). Lush string music (by Barrington Pheloung), lush photography, lush guest stars. It’s a well-mounted and familiar procedural that springs few surprises but should still delight its fans in an amazing 120 countries.

Juliet Stevenson plays a haughty, ‘famously celebate’ Professor Diana Ellerby in the opener, Old, Unhappy, Far Off Things. A leading light in the feminist movement, she’s leaving Oxford’s last all-female college and heading to Princeton. At her leaving do, however, one of her former students, Poppy, is found murdered at the foot of some stairs.

Juliet Stevenson, Zoë Telford and Stephanie Street

Juliet Stevenson and Zoë Telford

Kevin Whately’s Lewis furrows his brow at the whole business, convinced it is somehow linked to an attack from 10 years previously, which involved another of the prof’s golden set. This was Ruth Brook (Hattie Morahan), whose 15-year-old sister, Chloe (Antonia Campbell Hughes), has been in a coma ever since.

Actresses Zoë Telford and Stephanie Street enliven the plot as other snooty members of Diana’s circle, who it seems have had their lives blighted by a secret hate campaign waged against them.
Of course, the college is riven with old secrets and further deaths must follow before all is revealed.

The episode briefly develops a heartbeat when Saskia Reeves appears as Ali McLennan, a former colleague of Lewis’s. She has a twinkle in her eye for her old boss and provides a few smiles amid all the grumpy faces talking of blunt instruments and time of death.

A lot of dead women in this new series

Zoë Telford, Stephanie Street and Hattie Morahan

One trademark weakness of long-running series like this is that the principals, such as Lewis and Hathaway (Laurence Fox) here, barely ever come alive. They drink in the pub, Hathaway listens to Mozart on his iPod, and Lewis thinks his sergeant is all right. And that’s just about it. So when Ali threatens to set Lewis’s pulse stirring, this storyline is quickly terminated.

There is also a quite outrageous coincidence in this episode involving Chloe, which makes your jaw drop for the wrong reasons. The series always requires a huge suspension of disbelief, but this ‘twist’ was a bit cheeky.

There are four two-hour stories in this new series, all involving a lot of dead females: Wild Justice, which kicks off with a poisoned female bishop, and stars Ronald Pickup; The Mind Has Mountains, in which a young female student taking part in a drugs trial is found dead, with Douglas Henshall; and the The Gift of Promise, which sees a businesswoman brutally bludgeoned to death, and starring Cherie Lunghi, Lorcan Cranitch and Anna Chancellor.

Lewis is a money-spinner for ITV and will no doubt continue for as long as viewers in Britain and around the world want to ogle the picturesque quads and sinister professors, which bear as much likeness to the education most of us receive as a term at Hogwarts.

But it would be nice if Lewis and Hathaway could one day get a life to go with the corpses.

Accused, new crime drama PREVIEW

Christopher Eccleston as Willy (pics: BBC)

BBC1, Mondays from 15 November, 9pm

Rating ★★★★

In Jimmy McGovern’s Accused there is no opening shot of a murder scene, no serial killers and no detective with regulation sidekick.

The stories in this series of six are crime dramas with the emphasis on drama, exploring how ordinary people end up in the dock. Are they guilty, innocent or victims of circumstance?

Christopher Eccleston, who became known via McGovern’s Cracker before appearing in other works by the writer, including Hillsborough, is light years from Doctor Who in this opening episode. He plays Willy, a plumber with a family who wants to clear off with his younger lover.

Pookie Quesnel, Marc Warren, Juliet Stevenson
Just as he’s about to drop his bombshell to his other half, Carmel, his daughter announces she is marrying her boyfriend. His marriage split delayed, Willy finds he can’t finance his daughter Laura’s wedding when his bank card is declined. The building firm that owes him thousands for his plumbing work has gone bust.

Later, in the back of a mini cab he finds the apparent answer to his problems – £20,000 in a Jiffy bag. Loyal Carmel, played movingly by Pookie Quesnel, wants him to hand it in, but despite his best intentions, events take a disastrous turn.

McGovern, a champion of excellent drama with successes such as The Lakes and recently The Street, steers clear away from the norms and cliches of your typical cop show. He says, ‘No police procedure, thanks very much, no coppers striding along corridors with coats flapping. Just crime and punishment – the two things that matter most in any crime drama.’

Future episodes will see Mackenzie Crook (right) as a corporal in a story about not obeying orders; Juliet Stevenson and Peter Capaldi as parents of a fatally injured son; Marc Warren as a dad who acts against his better judgment; and Naomie Harris and Warren Brown as parents whose row causes reckless actions.

Wants to leave his wife for ‘firmer flesh’

Willy’s Story is a good drama, though Willy, with his chippyness and selfishness, is not that sympathetic a protagonist. Eccleston describes him as a loving family man, but if that was the intention, somehow it didn’t come across in the execution.

Certainly, many women will be hard pushed to root for a man who impulsively wants to dump his wife because he fancies some ‘firmer flesh’, as Willy tells the priest who gives him unwanted advice.

But the point with McGovern is often about people in glass houses. And perhaps the strength of Willy’s Story lies in something revealed about this production by Eccleston.

When the actors’ read-through of the script was finished, a vote was taken among those present on whether Willy should go down. The vote was split.

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