CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s TV: Be prepared for a shock from the sisters who seem to have it all
28 Up: Millennium Generation
Back in less political times, dramas that needed to expose a key character as heartless took a shortcut. They killed a dog.
We knew goofy junkie Christopher Moltisanti was beyond redemption in The Sopranos when he squashed his girlfriend’s Maltese lapdog in a heroin stupor. And Francis Underwood was revealed as a psychopath in the very first scene of House Of Cards, as he broke the neck of an injured stray.
Now, writers can use a less messy method to stir up an audience. They simply insert a nasty line about the NHS. Every sneer against the service is the equivalent of jumping on a puppy with hobnailed boots.
Hollington Drive promises to be an outstanding psychological serial, with the hunt for the missing boy as the catalyst for breakdowns rather than the focus of a criminal investigation
We knew mouthy Eddie (Ken Nwosu) was a wrong ’un in Hollington Drive (ITV) from the moment he dismissed the National Health Service as a freebie for losers who expect something for nothing.
Recently divorced Eddie is just back from the States and sleeping on the sofa at the stunning home his brother Fraser (Rhashan Stone) shares with his partner and their two children.
What a house it is. Bi-fold doors, gleaming open-plan kitchen, a covered patio for barbecues. It looks like one of those computer-generated designs Angela Scanlon produces on Your Home Made Perfect.
For Fraser, the drawback is his neighbours. He’s an easy-going guy but his missus Theresa (Anna Maxwell Martin) is in a continuous state of fraught tension because her high-achieving sister Helen (Rachael Stirling) lives next door.
Rachel Stirling (left) and Anna Maxwell Martin (right) in Hollington Drive. The casting of these two women is impeccable
The casting of these two women is impeccable. They are simultaneously best friends and fierce rivals, constantly sniping and competing, yet so close that their husbands cannot get near them when the sisters are together.
And they both have shocking secrets. The moment when headmistress Helen called on another neighbour and started tearing his clothes off almost before the front door was shut came as a complete surprise.
It took the disappearance of a local child to force Theresa into confronting her own panic attacks. Her ten-year-old son, Ben, was conceived after she was raped at a party — something she had never told Fraser.
Hollington Drive promises to be an outstanding psychological serial, with the hunt for the missing boy as the catalyst for breakdowns rather than the focus of a criminal investigation. So far, the police are seen only as flashing blue lights in the background.
It’s also a study in the awkwardness between neighbours when casual acquaintanceship must suddenly go deeper than exchanges about the weather or the bins.
A scene in which Theresa and Fraser call on the parents of the vanished boy to pay their condolences, and all four discover they have nothing to say, was almost comical — if it were not for the underlying threat of tragedy.
Former professional footballer Sanchez was brimming with energy, as he forged a new career as a DJ with Radio Leeds. Pictured: Sanchez, as seen in 7Up 2000 (left), 14Up 2000 (second from left), 21Up New Generation (second from right) and 28Up Millennium Generation (right)
The six young people revisited by the cameras in 28 Up: Millennium Generation (BBC1) were mostly struggling for things to say, too. The show has interviewed them aged seven, 14 and 21. Now they’re at that stage of early adult life where reality is overtaking their childhood dreams but their futures have yet to find a settled shape.
All of them seemed to be asking, ‘What more do you want to know — except, here I am, this is me?’
Former professional footballer Sanchez was brimming with energy, as he forged a new career as a DJ with Radio Leeds.
By contrast, bike-mad John from Slough was going through life with his fingers crossed — a policy his mother feared would never pay off. John’s latest scheme is to become a surf bum in Australia. It’s a nice idea, but just a stop-gap — a bit like this instalment of the series.