Posted by: Paul | November 16, 2010

Accused

Just when I’m trying to finish series 4 of The Sopranos so I can go back to watching Dexter, the BBC throws out another quality drama series to suck up my viewing time!

Accused is a new six parter with a high quality cast (see above for many recogniseable faces), written by Jimmy McGovern so expect grit and real life situations told with believable characters and location specific detail. The episodes are loosely linked by court appearances – the first revolved around plumber Willie Houlihan (Christopher Ecclestone), a family man embroiled in an affair with a younger woman, on the cusp of leaving his wife. On the evening they have agreed to tell their partners about the affair, his daughter announces her engagement, putting Willie’s plans in disarray – then to make matters worse, a cheque for a large job bounces and he is left with an enormous bill for the imminent wedding. Willie’s world begins to fall apart around him, and just as he thinks things can’t get worse, he finds his apparent saviour – an envelope full of cash in the back of a taxi. This sparks a chain of events leading to the murder of a taxi driver and landing Willie in court faced with charges of passing counterfeit notes.

It was gripping stuff, a classic life-spinning-out-of-control morality tale. What would you do, faced with bankruptcy? His wife pleads with him to return the money and find another way (asking the groom’s rich father to pay for the wedding) but Willie takes it to a casino thinking a 50-50 bet is the best way forward – if he wins, he returns the money and keeps the winnings. If he loses, he never found it in the first place. All throughout the process his mantra is “I’ve done nothing wrong” – he truly believes he is a victim of circumstance, where in reality the decisions he’s made at various points could have averted the worst of his problems, but he always thought he knew best and took no advice.

Christopher Eccelestone was his usual excellent self, playing Willie with bravado and swagger, trying to keep up outward appearances and talking nineteen to the dozen. And all the while he’s gradually losing sight of how to hold onto the things which are most important to him – his wife and family.

Looking forward to the rest of the series – if we’re to get no new Criminal Justice this year, Accused serves as a very worthy replacement – less about the justice system itself than the people who find themselves caught up in its net – guilty or not.

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