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I TALK Southcliffe

I'm not sure about you, but I felt a bit empty inside when it got to 9pm on a Sunday. Why? Because there were no more episodes of The Returned to enjoy/be confused by. But then I remembered about Southcliffe, a new four-part series that filled its slot.

Back in early July I went along to a preview screening at BAFTA where we were shown the first two episodes of Southcliffe - a drama which tells the story of a fictional English market town, devastated by a series of shootings across one single day. It goes without saying that this tragedy rips the community apart as everyone comes to terms with what has happened and adapt to life in the spotlight of the media.


This is where David Whitehead comes in, played by Rory Kinnear (Count Arthur Strong). David is a journalist who who grew up in the town of Southcliffe and finds himself back there reporting the news and trying to find answers for the tragedy that has swept this small town.

We are first introduced to David in Southcliffe through a voiceover which allows us to understand that he has close connections to the town of Southcliffe and the people living in it. Right from the very beginning, we get a sense of what Southcliffe is really like, as we hear David describe it as "A sleepy little English market town. People don't commit mass murder in a town like this."


This voiceover then reveals David Whitehead to be a news reporter, stood in the centre of Southcliffe, clearly very angry and upset at what has happened to the town.

I think Rory Kinnear plays a blinder in this, as do all the actors in fact, but for Kinnear especially, his career seems to have really taken off recently. At the moment he's also appearing as the very funny Michael in Count Arthur Strong, but prior to that he appeared in more dramatic pieces such as the latest James Bond film Skyfall and Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror for Channel 4.


Even if you've not seen Kinnear act before, you may have read his name in the papers earlier on this year as he became one of the early favourites to become the twelfth Doctor in Doctor Who but pipped to the post by Peter Capaldi who has just been revealed as the next Doctor live on BBC One.I'm sure Kinnear isn't too worried about not becoming the next doctor though, as just last week it was announced that he was to play Lord Lucan in a two-part drama for ITV about the British peer, called Lucan. When asked at BAFTA what made him take the role, Kinnear revealed that his first repsonse was "Who would want to watch this?!" - but when he read more of the scripts he got a better feel for the story and the rest, as they say is history.


Another great performance comes from Skins alumni Joe Dempsie, who plays Chris Cooper, a soldier returning home from Afghanistan to his doting wife Louise, played by Hayley Squires.Fresh from Afghanistan will Chris be blaming himself for the shootings? At first it certainly seems that way but hopefully as the series goes on he begins to realise that he is not to blame.Why does he feel responsible? When intimidated by Morton, the killer, he gains revenge by beating him up - the day before the shootings happened.


Playing the role of killer Stephen Morton is Sean Harris - and my god does he do a fantastic job. Morton is a loner, he cares for his dying mother but there's this other side to him - a ruthless mass murderer. Just one man, a shotgun and several targets.


I think Sean Harris was the perfect choice for this role, his ability to portray a serial killer with so many different sides is incredible.And that's what I love about Morton, the many different sides to his character. That said, whether he's caring for his mother or having a pint down the local there's something underneath those eyes that doesn't sit right with me. There's a real coldness to Morton and I spend the best part of the episode trying to guess what he's thinking. He might be saying one thing but thinking the completer opposite. One thing's for sure, the town of Southcliffe will never be the same again.


Episode two reveals more about the days leading up to the shootings and David Whitehead finds he is being haunted by his memories of his time living in Southcliffe. So much so that he's reluctant to return - not wanting his version of events to be dangerously subjective.


Is David, along with Chris beginning to feel responsible too? Only time will tell... 2013 really is shaping up to be a great year for original British drama, and Southcliffe is certainly another example, along with Broadchurch, The Fall and Run of one of those great British dramas.


Southcliffe airs Sundays and Mondays at 9pm on Channel 4

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