Did we like it?
Jimmy McGovern’s Bafta-winning drama has had better episodes, but the
series two opener was still an interesting little thriller.
What was good about it?
• David Thewlis as twins Joe and Harry managed to differentiate between the pair, even though one assumed the other’s indentity after an unfortunate episode involving a flickering TV and a sherbert lemon.
• Assuming your dead brother’s identity – even if it is to escape mounting debts, a nagging wife and thoughless kids and gain independence and cash – is not a decision most people could make while an ambulance is racing to the scene – but Thewlis’s expressive face showed how he reaced through the pros and cons to implement the unlikely strategy.
• The twist of Joe talking at his own funeral – and seeing the mixed reaction to his demise – was a real dramatic high in a series dominated by the nitty-gritty aspects of life.
• Timothy Spall as cabbie Eddie, a man with muted feelings and a wonderful hangdog face.
• Bronagh Gallagher, on the other hand, displayed loud feelings from start to finish.
• And we couldn’t help loving the mother-in-law from hell (June Watson), bitter, twisted and always exhaling smoke from her pinched mouth.
• Joe’s frantic sex with his dead brother’s not-very-fancy piece after she turned up wearing a leopardskin coat and nowt else.
• The “Oh, one more thing…” twist at the coroner’s court.
What was bad about it?
• Joe’s fury at a benefit claimant at his work might have pleased Daily Mail readers, but his intolerance got in the way of us warming to him.
• The pickled ear.