We’ve got plaudits aplenty for this drama which managed to be popular yet intelligent and full of big name actors who are not just in it for the pay check.
What was good about it?
• Writer Sally Wainwright adopts a welcome harder edge than with her previous works (such as At Home with the Braithwaites and Jane Hall) and delivers a compelling story, linking the lives of some disparate folk without daft coincidences and lazy clichés.
• Ex-Corrie star Suranne Jones was riveting as Ruth Slater, a woman released from prison after serving 15 years for murdering two policemen who came to evict her family from their northern England farm with the wonderful name of Upper Hanging Stones Farm . Her wounded eyes, framed by jagged eyebrows convey her continuing feelings of guilt but the best part of her performance was her movement which had every bit of femininity cut away, reflecting her time in the tough world behind bars. We can now forgive Suranne for being so appalling in the forrendous Harley Street (and underwhelming in Vincent); this is a Bafta award-level performance.
• It’s not only Ruth who is finding it grim up north. Douglas Hodge and Jemma Redgrave play Michael and Rachel, a couple whose adopted teenage daughter is hurt in a car crash she caused (and in the car of he local drug dealer); Siobhan Finneran and Peter Davison play John and Izzie, a couple of lawyers troubled by poltergeists; Jack Deam and Matthew McNulty play Kieran and Steve, two brooding, miserable brothers who’ve allowed their father’s murder to mess up their lives. All three pairs are linked to Ruth and the way those relationships play out will make parts two and three must watch TV. Will revenge or redemption win the day?
• The bleakness of the story is reflected in the look and the unobtrusive music.
• Will Mellor goes topless in his role as the meat factory romeo who breaks through Ruth’s austere barrier and, rather tenderly, takes her virginity.
What was bad about it?
• It’s only a three-parter.