Regular readers know that I have a passion for TV Comedy and that is usually what I write about and review. But, I'd be a fool to ignore the brilliant drama on the BBC at the moment.
I have already written about Prisoners' Wives and more recently The Syndicate, however last week a drama called One Night aired on BBC One over 4 nights and the only way I can describe it is OUTSTANDING. Written by Paul Smith One Night was a story that followed the events of one night told from the point of view of 4 different characters, told brilliantly in 4 different episodes and how the events of that one night have affected them.
The first episode came from the perspective of Kitchen salesman Ted (Douglas Hodge). After having a bad day, Ted takes his frustration out on a group of schoolgirls, one of whom drops a packet of crisps on the pavement outside his house. This leads him to report the incident to the school resulting in the girl's exclusion right before her exams. This is just the beginning to what will become a very bad day for Ted.
The second episode showed the night from the point of view of Rochelle, played by relative newcomer Georgina Campbell. Rochelle is the girl who Ted believes dropped the litter outside the home and is, because of him, excluded from school. From the Lakemead estate, Rochelle spends the best part of her episode with her Somali boyfriend Sami (Bashir Hussein) in his dad's car, hoping nobody would catch them as he is from a rival gang to that of her brother, Jake.
The third episode focussed on single mother Carol's (Jessica Hynes, The Royle Family, Twenty Twelve) story which for the most part focussed on her miserable mundane life as a supermarket checkout worker living on a council estate. She was first seen in Ted's episode after they had a run in after Ted forgot his charcoal for the barbecue. With a daughter excluded from school, and a son whom she suspects is back to his gangster life style, Carol's day doesn't go as planned.
Alfie was played by newcomer Billy Matthews and the final episode belonged to him as he celebrates his 13th birthday. Alfie had been seen throughout all the episodes as he was being interviewed by police over the attacks on two men on the Lakemead Estate The fourth and final episode belonged to him and as he turned 13 he decides to try for the LMT, the Lakemead T'ugs - the council estate gang. At first Alfie embraces the gang culture and looks forward to what his initiation will involve but will having to look after his siblings while his mum is off on holiday affect his involvement, or will his conscious take over and decide not to take part in the initiation after all.
After all, the series has been building up to the bodies found on the Lakemead Estate and the gunshots heard in the previous episodes. Did Alfie have something to do with them? Did he pull the trigger? ...surely not. Does Alfie do what we want him to do?
It goes without saying that I was blown away with the writing and loved the way in which the story was split across 4 episodes with 4 different viewpoints on the same story. Needless to say good writing is not always the key to a great drama but it needs to be matched with great performances, which One Night wasn't short of.
Jessica Hynes, who is more commonly known for her comedy roles shone as Carol, a very believable single mother living on a council estate trying everything she can to make ends meet by working in a supermarket. Douglas Hodge who played Ted also gave a stellar performance and at times I was unsure whether to like or dislike his character, yet was deeply shocked to see how the story panned out. Newcomer Georgina Campell did a great job in her portrayal of Rochelle, a council estate schoolgirl with a bright future ahead of her, which she puts in jeopardy when she comes into contact with those less desirable than her.
But for me the award for Best Performance HAS to go to Billy Matthews, whose portrayal of 13 year old Alfie was second to none. We spend the best part of his episode questioning why he would want to get involved with the LMT in the first place as he comes across as a polite young boy who doesn't quite fit in with the council estate lifestyle. Alfie is first introduced to us in the when he hands a gun into the police, leading to his questioning that we witness across all four episodes. Alfie's story was definitely the biggest to tell and along with a first class performance from Billy Matthews that really brought the character to life, Alfie's story was the perfect choice to end what had already been a great drama.
However, what baffles me is why on earth the BBC didn't give the series a prime time spot or any decent promotion. A drama of this quality should not have been shown as late as 10:35pm, and I'm sure many of you would have missed it and didn't know it was even on! I only became aware of the series when it was advertised after EastEnders, just over 2 hours before it was due to air.