One of the best ITV1 dramas for years. Although full of flaws, it was clever enough to have us holding our breath as the tension mounted. Normally with ITV dramas, we’re holding our breath hoping to pass out to end the suffering.
What was good about it?
• The ploy of giving all the main characters – splinters from split-up families – a motive for killing the annoying brat Emily (Sinead Michael) – a crime for which they should have been forgiven for anyway, seeing as she was such a manipulative monster.
• Lucy Gannon’s flashback format worked well (for once – it is terribly overused).
• Lesley Sharp and, to a lesser extent, Geraldine Somerville were never less than convincing as the useless good-time-gal mum and overbearing whiny mum.
• Freddie Boath did very well as Jack, a teenager who was realistically drawn by Gannon – not all bad but prone to trouble and resentment.
• The copper saying: “That’ll be the mum, then” when he hears a howl from the scene where Emily has met her death in a fall through a french window. The fatal footage was replayed so often we’re now as familiar with it as Geoff Hurst’s World Cup winning goal and Michael Parkinson’s Emu encounter.
What was bad about it?
• Although it held our attention, The Children’s characters were, in the main, easy to loathe and hardly realistic. Kevin Whately (we’re not fans) played head teacher Cameron who was so inept he wouldn’t survive a cursory Ofted glance; Ian Puleston-Davies (playing to type) was a radio DJ who was so appalling/Simon Batesy, he wouldn’t have a single listener.
• The adults were such typical examples of the middle classes that they all become totally untypical.
• The parenting skills left a lot to be desired – Jack and Emily would have been better off taking their chances in Gary Glitter’s spare room.
• Scenes featuring Whately snogging or shagging.