Role Reversal…

Just as I was starting to believe the Brits could no longer make decent TV drama (with the exception of Black Mirror) and that we’d handed the baton to Europe and America, along come two series to stand that on its head. The first is Jimmy McGovern’s ‘Broken’ – so much going on in it without ever smashing you over the head to make sure you’re still watching. No need because Sean Bean as a catholic priest with a past, living and working in a real world of poverty and desperation, is one of those actors who can make you believe every word he says. And McGovern’s a writer who never picks a done-to-death subject and makes you dig for what’s underneath the surface. Plenty, I’d say and not a cliché in sight. Father Michael’s shown us twice that beneath the calm, controlled exterior there’s a man who can boil over. I want to be there when he does.

Counter to ‘Broken’ is a Canadian drama series called ‘Cardinal’. It is truly unwatchable. It’s a cop drama that contains every cliché to have ever appeared in a police drama – lone hero, maverick being investigated, on the edge and about to fall off, widower – I’m not sure if he’s a boozer but I’d bet money on it. Plus the actor playing the title role is appalling. He not only whispers (for which I’ve already seen criticisms of the mythical ‘sound man’ being responsible) but he whispers fast, so fast that the subtitles are cut down. Believe anything he says? Why should I? The whispering suggests he doesn’t want the crap he’s saying to be heard and the speed tells me he wants to get it over and done with as quickly as possible.


Douglas Watkinson is an English novelist, playwright and screenwriter.

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