Over the last few years I’ve been longing for ITV to return
to their drama heyday and in the last few
weeks it would appear they’ve been listening to pleas. Every week has seen one new drama after
another start. Monday saw the beginning of a
new 3-part love story from acclaimed screenwriter Tony Marchant. Leaving has a very simple premise as an under
appreciated woman in her mid-forties finds herself falling for an attractive twenty-something year old boy she meets at a wedding reception. Julie (Helen McCroy) lives for her job as
catering and events manager at a country house hotel. She gets a sincere
pleasure from making sure every aspect of the bride’s wedding day is memorable and special. Helen McCroy’s
portrayal of Julie made her completely believable. She’s a woman who mouths the words as the registrar reads the vows, a woman who knows how to make her guests happy and a woman who has reached a crossroads in her life.
Of course you can tell right from the off where the story is
going it just takes its sweet time getting there. We meet Aaron (newcomer
Callum Turner) at his brother’s wedding. His brother is marrying Phoebe, a girl
Aaron had gone out with for two years before deciding to dump him for his
brother. Aaron appears to have reached a dead end. His love life is non-existent, he’s been unable to find work since
getting his degree and his home life with his parents is strained and tense.
When Aaron meets Julie there’s an initial spark and as an audience member you
know where you’re going.
If I’m honest I didn’t get drawn in by Leaving to start with. It seemed to plod along and I found myself
willing it to move their relationship on faster, we all knew it was going to
happen so let’s have it happen! Helen McCroy’s performance was flawless. I completely
believed her in the role as a confused, torn and conflicted woman who struggled
with feelings of love against her responsibilities at work and home. It took me quite a bit longer to warm to
Callum Turner as her young love interest. His character seemed numb and his
acting occasionally wooden. To its credit Leaving felt true to life and warm and never veered off down any sleazy or uncomfortable paths. The relationship was portrayed believably and delicately and as I happened to be watching this with my parents that was something I was really thankful for.
I’ve long been a fan Marchant’s writing and although I had initial problems with it I found myself being slowly drawn in. There were a few scenes that I found a little hard to
believe, like the two of them coincidentally ending up in the same hospital
room on the same night at exactly the same time and some of the dialogue verged
toward corny but on the whole Leaving delivered and left me eager
for more. The idea of a older married woman falling for a younger man may not be an original concept but I’ve faith Marchant’s scripts will offer a new take on the story.
I suspect now their love story has finally began to
gather pace that the rest of the story will tackle how their relationship affects
the loved ones around them . McCroy and Turner have a definite on-screen
chemistry and the scenes between the two were the most interesting so it’ll be
interesting to see where we’re taken when their relationship is inevitably
thrust into the spotlight.
ITV deserve a lot of credit for delivering such high
quality, different dramas so far this Autumn and whilst I appreciate Leaving
had its faults, it was still a notch above some of their efforts in years gone
by and goes to show how ITV can still deliver the goods when it comes to drama.