These days you only need to see the name Sheridan Smith to know that what you’re about to watch is going to be good, and that Sheridan will put in an outstanding performance. And luckily, both is true about ITV’s latest three-part drama Black Work.
It’s fair to say that ITV haven’t had a brilliant year when it comes to drama but I'm thrilled to say that Black Work is a (much overdue) return to form. Despite appearances, Black Work is not just another cop show. Black Work is best described as a psychological thriller and is written by Matt Charman (Our Zoo).
In Black Work, Sheridan Smith plays PC Jo Gillespie, a policewoman determined to find out why her husband Ryan was killed.
Married to fellow police officer, Ryan Gillespie, the extreme demands of police work has placed a considerable strain on their marriage, and for the past few months she has grown very close to another police officer, Jack Clark, played by Matthew McNulty.
Jack is married with a son, and right up until Ryan's death had been growing closer and closer to Jo. To make matters worse, after his death Jack is assigned as one of the investigating officers into his death. As you can imagine, this is something that causes him considerable conflict, and sees Jo begin to lose trust in her police family.
So what does she do? She decides to carry out her own investigation, a search for the truth that will not only put herself in danger, but her kids also.
There’s a certain expectancy now when Sheridan Smith is announced as the lead in a drama for her to be amazing, and time after time she hasn’t disappointed. Late last year she took on the role of Cilla Black in Cilla, a role that came with a huge responsibility but that didn’t seem to phase her, and earnt her one of the best performances of her career. And earlier on this year she brought the nation to tears playing Lisa Lynch in BBC One’s The C Word.
And of course it’s no surprise that Sheridan shines once more as Jo in Black Work. It’s becoming ever more clear that it doesn’t matter who Sheridan plays, the feeling as a viewer is always the same... you care. You cared for Cilla in Cilla, you cared for Lisa in The C Word and you care for Jo in Black Work. She may have been illegitimate in the time leading up to her husband’s murder but that doesn’t mean you can’t feel for her.
Losing your husband can’t be easy, and carrying the weight of an affair on your shoulders can only make things worse, and the moments where Jo loses it, allows Sheridan to really show off her phenomenal acting skills and deliver those highly emotive performances we’ve come to know and love.
The first episode of Black Work flies by. You’re hooked in right from the word go, and by the time you reach the end of the first episode, there’s no way you’re not going to return for more. Without giving away any spoilers, when I reached the end of the first episode I felt shocked, upset and for a little while after, silent with my mouth wide open.
This was a feeling I’ve not felt since the end of episode five of Cucumber, or before that, the end of episode four of Happy Valley. And for anyone who saw either of those episodes will know the level of drama I’m taking about.
So if that hasn’t sold it to you enough, then I’m not sure what will. Here’s the trailer to whet your appetite even more...