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I TALK Capital

BBC One's new three-part drama Capital is a portrait of a single street in South London transformed by soaring house prices.

Written by Peter Bowker (Marvellous), Capital is based on the 2012 novel of the same name by John Lanchester and stars Toby Jones (Marvellous, Detectorists), Lesley Sharp (Scott & Bailey, The Shadow Line) and Adeel Akhtar (River, Utopia).

If you're a fan of BBC Four comedy Detectorists, then watching Toby Jones and Rachael Stirling playing a married couple might seem a little strange at first, as in Detectorists she plays his best friend's wife.

Set on a single street in South London, Pepys Road, Capital is a portrait of a road transformed by soaring property prices. What was once the home of modest lower-middle class families, the road has been continuously gentrified into a street of multi-million pound houses.

By its very nature, Capital is very much an ensemble piece, however you could argue that the characters played by Toby Jones and Rachael Stirling are the central characters. Toby Jones plays Roger, a banker on the brink of a £1m bonus, whilst Rachael Stirling plays his spendthrift wife Arabella.

Also part of the ensemble cast are the Kamal family, who run the local newsagents. Adeel Akhtar plays eldest brother Ahmed, who in the absence of a father has taken on the father figure role.

His mother, Mrs Kamal is played by Shabana Azmi and is forced to return to England from India to sort the family out.

Then there's OAP Petunia, played by Gemma Jones (Unforgotten), who has lived her entire life on Pepys Road and is now contemplating death in the house in which she was born.

Other characters include a Polish builder called Bogdan, played by Radoslaw Kaim, who has come from Warsaw to indulge the rich in their interior decoration whims and a Zimbabwean refugee with a PhD called Quentina (Wunmi Mosaku) who is working as a traffic warden.

The series centre's around what happens when one day, the street’s residents all receive an anonymous postcard through their front doors bearing a simple message: “We Want What You Have.” Who is behind the anonymous hate campaign? And what do they want?

As the mystery of the postcards deepens, we get to learn more about each character, whose lives are filled with love and loss, fear and greed, fortune and envy and most recognisable of all, family and home.

What I loved about Capital was the variety of characters who all live and operate on this one street in London. We all recognise them; a traffic warden, a Polish builder, a well-off couple, an Asian family running a corner shop and an elderly woman living on her own and an elderly woman who has lived on the same street all her life.

They're just ordinary people who have found themselves caught and changed by a city at a time of extraordinary flux. It's overtly political without alienating the viewer.

For me, the range of ages and ethnicities in Capital is what made the series feel very real. It's reflective of not just London but Britain as a whole, and whilst there's a very strong argument that television is getting better at representing society for what it is, Capital is one of the few TV dramas that actually attempts to represent the UK properly.

If I'm honest Capital isn't up there with the recent spate of outstanding drama such as River and Unforgotten but never-the-less it's well worth a watch (as is anything with Toby Jones in it) and it'll only take three hours of your time.

Capital starts Tuesday 24th November at 9pm on BBC One


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