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Friday, 23 March 2012

One Night: One of the best BBC dramas that the BBC don't want you see.

If I told you that starting on Monday is one of the best, most compelling, well crafted and beautifully acted pieces of drama so far this year you’d be pretty excited wouldn’t you? If I told you the title of the drama is One Night you’d probably look at me blankly. I can forgive your blank expression though  as the BBC have done little to no promotion to ensure this programme gets the viewer ship it deserves. Its almost as if they don’t want to be showing it at all!  If that is the case then I can’t fathom for the life of me why that would be. Even the scheduling of it is truly bizarre. The four episodes are being shown over four nights next week  in a ridiculously late timeslot usually designated for documentaries or repeats. Having been given the opportunity to see all four episodes I was left scratching my head at the choices with the scheduling. Why put something this good, this interesting, this strong on so late at night?? I’d like to tell you its because this or that but it makes no sense whatsoever! For the past year BBC dramas have been introduced under the tagline “Original British Drama” and One Night is certainly that, its better than some of the recent dramas and better than upcoming Kay Mellor offering The Syndicate. 


Writer Paul Smith’s four-part drama centres around the events of one hot summer night and how it affects four very different people. The four episodes tell the story of that night from the four different points of view but such is a the strength of the writing and acting here that each episode feels like a standalone drama. With each episode we see the characters in different lights and it builds brilliantly to the conclusion. Smith has written characters that are real and three dimensional with Jessica Hynes and young actor Billy Matthews giving what just might be two of the best performances of the year.


In the opening episode we meet Ted (played brilliantly with Douglas Hodge). Ted is a man whose future looks uncertain after difficult time at work, He's  a wound up mess on the verge of a breakdown. Ted is driven even closer to the edge when he catches four teenage girls dropping litter on the road outside his home. Ted’s brief but fiery exchange with the girls sets off a chain events that puts him  in a venerable position that he could have never foreseen.  Such is the caliber of the Smith’s writing here that you really empathize with each character and you become immersed in each world. There’s a palpable air of tension that runs through each story and even in its slower moments I was never bored, uninterested or fed up.


Jessica Hynes (who’ve I’ve not seen in many serious roles) is electrifying as single mum Carol who is miserable at work in a Supermarket and encounters each of the characters. There’s an amazing scene when Carol takes to the stage for a standup comedy spot. A lengthy scene that is funny and agonizing in equal measure and stands out as one of the most interesting scenes I’ve seen so far this year. I know what you're thinking there must be something I disliked about One Night? Well not really no, aside from its 10.35 timeslot.

By the final episode which can be seen at 10.35pm after a repeat of BBC favourite New Tricks (the mind boggles) you’ll be both desperate to know the outcome and overwhelmed by the talents of the young cast. You meet Alfie in episode 1 and he features in the majority of the series  but it isn’t until the final episode that we really see who he is and how his life is treating him. I predict big things for Billy Smith he plays Alife with  a realism and truth that almost made me ache.


I wrote this with the sole purpose of making sure I spread the word about how much I enjoyed the series in a hope that despite the cruel way the BBC have decided to treat it you would watch it. I shan’t repeat myself in telling you how wonderful it is as I know I’m already treading on dangerous ground “bigging it up” before you’ve seen it but when you do sit down to it all next week see if you can work out why they’ve sidelined it to such a poor timeslot and given it so little attention.

I wrote this because someone has to tell you about One Night and its become increasingly clear as we edge closer to transmission on Monday that the BBC aren’t going to be the one to do it.

One Night can be seen from 10.35pm on Monday 26th March on BBC1 and continues Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

26 comments:

Barbara Kirk said...

I will give this a chance as I respect Jessica Hynes's work.

My feeling is that the Beeb put this in a late slot because it involves a storyline someone with a mental illness, and as they want to please the Conservatives, they want to make out that life is so flaming sweet that they can kowtow to the Queen with a useless golden boat and the sodding Olympics while people in the real world suffer!

Luke said...

actually there is no mention of mental illness anywhere in this.

Anonymous said...

This is utter rubbish. Poorly written and acted. Attempts to emulate 'the street' which cannot et a look in for a new series. Unbelieveable work beeb!

Btw, the script is useless also. What a bore.

Anonymous said...

Well judging from your post you're obviously no Shakespeare either! I thought it was beautifully acted.

Anonymous said...

I agree - This is drama at it's best. Gripping, moving, innovative and highly original. The commenter above who slagged it off is a tasteless troll. In no way can anyone call it rubbish.

John said...

In total agreement with the majority here.
Ok yes a few of the 'street' scenes or 'road' as the youth call it nowadays are a tad contrived but this in no way takes away from the overall gravitas and heart that is conveyed through the writing and the execution of all the great actors.
Jessica Hynde's is incredible and the most powerful scene for me was when she was defending her son Jake.
Total immersion into the role. In fact I am going to watch it again.
Grow a backbone BBC and give this and other 'real' drama the time slot they deserve..

Anonymous said...

I know this is quite irrelevant but I was wondering what the song is on the advert for the show?

Howard said...

The best contemporary drama on BBC1 for many a year, and the best tv drama on the BBC since The Killing (Series I). Terrific performances from terrific actors, but I like most is the way each individual episode is imbued with each character's personality and perspective. There has been some criticism of a 'loose script' and 'slowness' and complexity of plot-line: this seems more to do with the absence of formulaic devices that are normally used in tv drama. Wake-up schedulers and repeat this gem in a more accessible time-slot.

Anonymous said...

Well worth watching despite the backroom-schedule-slot.
Billy Matthews was fantastic and should be greatly applauded for his sincere performance as 'Alfie'.
The unexpected quality in this BBC drama far outweighed the slightly-flawed representations of some of the 'street/gang' scenes.

Anonymous said...

I thought this was a really superb piece of writing, light years ahead of "original british dramas" such as "white heat" and "the syndicate" which have received better publicity and time slots.

Anonymous said...

Excellent, but who was killed? The Somali was still alive. Was it the Kitchen salesman, if so where was his body when everyone ran off after the shooting??

Anonymous said...

Incredible drama. Totally agree with you, my mind is baffled as to why this was scheduled to be shown so late. Yes there are plenty of cliches but at the same time the focus should be on the issues the drama raises. The powerful dialogue and constant unease of the scenes made me really feel for a moment the difficulties so many people face everyday - I felt like a fly on the wall, peering into somebody else's life. Beautifully shot. Will definitely recommend to others. Props to the BBC!!

Anonymous said...

Loved this series, and i'm no great telly fan generally. Beautifully shot, interesting vehicle for narrative. I found it by accident...after watching all of it I went googling to find out more and was disappointed and confused to find no great reviews (bar this one!) or any actual real Attention paid to it by reviewrs. This is weird, because I think with time this series will be recognised for the quality it is and should become a modern day 'Cathy Come Home'.

No, it's not perfect and the main aspect that disrupted the realism for me was the over the top police interview- but as far as engaging narratives go, it was beautifully filmed, wonderfully acted and cleverly written. Deserves a bigger profile, BBC.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the majority I thought One Night was brilliant and cannot understand the late showing and lack of publicity, when other drama,s are advertised so much it can spoil your enjoyment as you feel you know what is coming next. The acting was superb and it was so thought provoking. I have recommended it to all my family.

Pat said...

Gripping stuff. The young actor Billy Matthews' haunted face. . . !

Sue Wright said...

I've just sobbed my way through the final 30 minutes.
This was fantastic, moving TV. I can't believe the BBC buried it at 10.35pm, they should be ashamed of themselves. And by the way, the boy who played Alfie was brilliant, he should be nominated for an award.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more. This is the first time I have ever posted a comment. Am doing so because I could'nt understand why it got no coverage other than a review in the Telegraph after the first episode. Thought Billy Matthew's performance was extraordinary throughout, have rarely seen so much expressed without words.

Anonymous said...

I watch a lot of TV drama and a week later cannot get One Night out of my mind I agree with the comments that it is one of the best recent TV dramas much better than The Syndicate and White Heat but why so poorly advertised and why the scheduling It should have been the Cathy Come Home of 2012 but I cannot find any of my friends who watched it Why did it not have a peak view time of 9pm It is less scary than Silent Witness I cannot forget the 2 storylines of the perception of the mixed race girl off the estate who was actually a high flyer and the 12 year old kid looking after his young siblings to prevent them going into care while his disturbed mother is on holiday How do I get the BBC to respond to my query about the scheduling

rose said...

I've also never left a comment ever.

This work was raw & stripped back drama. The first episode was like a contemporary take on Abigail's Party - the intersection of the subsequent 3 episodes further illuminated our 'the viewing audiences' preconceptions about the various characters..Jessica Hynes is an heroic straight actress.. the sink estate - high flyer - dubbing out her surroundings with classical music was a brilliant touch - Alfie's story was heroic but simultaneously as dark as anything Ian Mckewan can write. The BBC has commissioned some sensational work here.

Anonymous said...

Steven and Rachel said: we thought this was one of the best things we'd seen for ages, each character was more complex than at first appeared (just like real human beings) nobody was left as a simple stereotype (as happens often on TV) and the acting and the development of the characters was beautiful, skilled and passionate. The clever idea of the same situation viewed from four viewpoints gave us a genuine all-around view of the situation, which unfolded as you watched each episode. Of course there's no simple conclusion, no simple moral point - randomness and personal actions are combined, just like in life. Also conveyed the city as a summer place in a way that you rarely see. Brilliant. (See the Telegraph for a really stupid review). Song and music inspired too (by Errollyn Wallen)

Anonymous said...

What amazing tv. Just watched all 4 episodes over the weekend. Gripping, great story telling and acting - the BBC at its best. Young Alfie had us sobbing our hearts out and feeling overwhelmed by his huge sense of responsibility. What an amazing young actor. Please please please - BBC please give this the airing it deserves. Kay & Mike

Anonymous said...

I too thought this was the best drama I have seen for ages. Billy Matthews was brilliant as Alfie.

Could anyone tell me who played the Detective questioning Alfie?

Luke said...

The Detective questioning Alfie was Don Gillet. Last seen in EastEnders

Anonymous said...

We've just seen this series here in Australia. I thought it was superb, well acted and it showed life for many in high rise estates. Its so easy for young people to get involved in gangs, living in such close contacts with other families. I'm still in shock to find out that Alfie was left home to look after his siblings, one being a baby. How could a mother so that, and I've heard it does happen. Some one asked who was killed, it was the man who complained at the school. There was a scene of his wife in the back garden at the end. I think it'll live with me for some time, just as "Cathy Come Home" did.
Diane

Ali said...

Absolutely brilliant, one of the best mini dramas I've seen in a long time. Thanks to Netflix I would have totally missed it. Billy Matthews has a great career ahead of him - my heart broke for him, what a super actor! Jessica Hynes, brilliant as always. The tension you feel as you watch the details of her life unfold is agonizingly compelling. Georgina Campbell deserves recognition here too, I think she's one to watch. Fantastic show all round.

Opinionomics said...

I just watched the entire drama series on Hulu Plus in the U.S., and I was deeply moved to question how I go about forming first impressions about the strangers I come into contact with everyday. How can I possibly form an opinion about someone that I don't know personally when I have absolutely no conception of the personal challenges they are facing in their own lives? This was clearly the underlying theme of this drama. We need to stop and ask ourselves why we allow ourselves to treat the people we don't know with less respect and understanding than we treat the people we do know.

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