Posted by: Paul | November 2, 2010

Single Father

This emotionally intense four-parter concluded on Sunday night, and over the course of the series I had a complete turnaround over it – from not really wanting to watch the second episode (the first was about the most draining, upsetting piece of TV I’ve seen for a while), to not being able to wait to find out how it all finished.

Dave Tiler (David Tennant, in his natural Scottish mode) has about the most complicated extended family I’ve ever seen. He has three kids with his partner Rita (Laura Fraser), who doesn’t believe in marriage. Rita has another daughter from a previous relationship, claiming it was a one-night-stand, so Dave is the only father Lucie has ever known. In addition to this, Dave himself has a grown up daughter of his own, Tanya, who has her own little boy into the bargain. With me so far? On top of this are entangled various other blood and non-blood relatives – Rita’s mother, sister and her husband, Dave’s ex-wife, Rita’s best friend Sarah (the ever brilliant Suranne Jones) and her boyfriend Matt. Oh, and the dog.

On her way home one afternoon, Rita is hit by a speeding Police car and killed. Dave is suddenly alone in a crowd of grieving people, all either craving his attention or eyeing him with concern, wondering how he’s going to cope. Soon, driven by a desire to find a biological relative to cling to, daughter Lucie sets out to find her her real father. Dave is torn between wanting and needing to keep the family together and letting Lucie grow up and become independent, and so in reading Rita’s private diaries to find clues to his identity Dave discovers that perhaps Rita had not told him the full story – and are his own children even his? Into this mess of sadness and pain steps super-rich Stuart, Lucie’s real father, to confirm that Rita knew who he was all along…

From out of the pain and sadness of the first episode came a compelling family drama which kept me coming back for more. Dave’s life became ever more complicated, sometimes through his own actions and sometimes not, and by the end you’re wondering if things will ever settle down again for the Tiler family. The answer is, of course not, but this was a very well observed study of how families and individuals deal with life changing events, adapt and move on. We don’t have to forget, but we do have to carry on living, and loving.

The cast was uniformly excellent in this, but in particular Suranne Jones, David Tennant himself whose broad shoulders carried the weight of the show, and also the child actors who were never less than an entirely believable family. It was a great show but I feel like I could do with some cheering up now – no more sorrow for a while, please…!

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