Watermelon, ITV1

by | Apr 16, 2003 | All, Reviews

TV dramas are so smart-arsed – sorry, sophisticated – these days that sometimes one can stand out from the crowd just by playing it straight. Watermelon didn’t run over three consecutive nights, and didn’t involve any detectives, medics, psychopaths (not really) or people with ‘forensic’ in their job titles. Instead it had a story with a beginning, middle and end, and – gasp – no Unusual Forms Of Transport, not so much as an aquatic car or vintage bicycle. What kind of a TV show is that?

“Ordinary” would be one answer, with “enjoyable enough, though” as a qualifier. Watermelon was a simple romantic comedy, with no big surprises and a fairly massive hint of Bridget Jones in its tale (adapted from the Marian Keyes novel) of a dippy young woman who finally gets the right man after veering perilously close to the wrong one.

Anna Friel did an excellent job as Claire, the Dublin graduate with a tenuous grip on reality but a firm grip on an accent that made her sound like Bob Geldof’s lippy younger sister. Real Irish People played her family and boyfriend, with Sean McGinley outstanding as the Dublin equivalent of The Royle Family’s Jim, and Brenda Fricker superb as ever as the warm, even-handed mum.

The script was witty, which made up for the fact that plot was based on the very worst pregnant-after-relationship-has-ended soap cliché. There was even a “she’s seven months gone”, “No, I’m nine” maternity ward scene, straight from Lisa and Phil in EastEnders. And if Claire’s tall, dark, handsome English true love (Jamie Draven) looked just a bit like Colin Firth in Bridget J, then what’s the harm in that – after all, it’s a RomCom, isn’t it?

For something so predictable (and derivative), Watermelon was surprisingly refreshing, largely because of a performance by Anna Friel that rated at least 9.5 on the Zellwegger scale, but also because the Irish production team just got on with the job, and didn’t try to show off.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles

16/04/2003

Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!

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