“Don’t you dare come back here dressed like this,” shouts Tori (Angela Griffin) as a resident’s body comes out. “Give us your kit, you rich morons. Just a few pieces… ”
Jack Thorpe’s film for Channel 4 is the first television drama in response to Covid. To be precise: this is the first major drama of the Covid. I hope for many more, but the bar is set very high.
The setting is the fictional Sunshine Homes in Liverpool and a splendid Merseyside representative has been assembled including Stephen Graham, Jodie Comer, Sheila Johnston, Ian Hart and Andrew Schofield – the latter is an Alan Bleasdale regular whom I remember as the singer in a garbage punk group badly judging his audience, all aged, with the refrain: “You’re going to die, die, die …” It was the kind of dark humor that TV could indulge in, in another era .
Hart is the manager coughing into the phone: “We have it everywhere… don’t you dare hang up on me!” A pre-recorded ‘Welcome to NHS 111’ reply message repeated as the only staff member working nights trying to put a heavy man on his stomach is just too scary, as is Matt Hancock – remember him? – extol on the radio the “protection ring” launched around retirement homes.
There are charming and fun scenes between Comer as new caregiver Sarah and Graham as Tony with early stage Alzheimer’s disease that tie into stories of juvenile delinquency. Another resident, former teacher Polly, recites the poem My mind for me is a kingdom. Many at Sunshine may be losing theirs, but, as Sir Edward Dyer wrote, “My wealth is health and perfect ease”. And then this health is taken from them in the most horrible and unworthy way.
Sarah, who has found her calling in Sunshine, cannot save Kenny but has promised Tony that she will take care of him. There are nuances of Flight over a cuckoo’s nest when, after Tony is overpowered by more potent drugs, Sarah prepares a breakout. Timely, terrifying and brilliant.
After To help you might need something sweeter then there is All creatures big and small (Channel 5) which, in the first moments, features a dozen sheep lying in a seemingly wild field while a nearly blind woman loses her only companion, Peter the Parakeet, after a visit from future veterinarian Tristan.
Spoiler alert: sheep at least survive. This is the second season of the reboot of James Herriot’s Yorkshire Sons, a lockdown hit last year and returning so casually that I wonder if it’s not better than the original for years. 1970.
Somehow this time – it’s 1938 – the skies seem taller, the valleys greener, the drystone walls sturdier, the vintage engines more manly as they climb the hills. – and Samuel West as Siegfried more like the portrayal of Robert Hardy going for knee-deep leather boots to skip cow dung.
“To conquer the ziggurat of life, you have to climb the first step,” he growls before asking the housekeeper Mrs. Hall: “What does the seventh commandment tell us? “You will not commit adultery,” she replies. “Ah, the other then …”
Ms Hall’s roast beef dinners are certainly more filling because James (Nicholas Ralph), after a short home visit, is considering a permanent return to Glasgow to become a different kind of vet after hearing himself say, “Les pets are the future. ” He broadcasts this prediction in front of Siegfried who sniffles: “Why people keep animals as pets is beyond me. A dog should have a function – farm work, guiding, shooting – and not just hanging around. “
Siegfried never hangs out anywhere. And he never stops liking James or encouraging his brother. How good are Mrs Hall’s Yorkshire puddings? Can they persuade James to stay in Yorkshire with its cobbled lanes and pewter mugs and her daughters like Helen who in the Christmas special called off her marriage to chinless wonder Hugh, which would seem to leave the field open? to our Scottish hero?
Ah, but Jamesie isn’t the type to take the bull by the horns. He is normally as shy as a rabbit when it comes to matters of the heart, as gentle as a lamb. But from somewhere he invokes the eagerness of a beaver, even though I just read that these creatures went extinct from Yorkshire in the 16th century, only to cry out after her, “I missed you! On a roll, he then discards his mother’s haggis and tatties to stick with Mrs. Hall’s dumplings.
The new season of Effort (ITV) reached 1971 with the Cassette Tape Recorder, the latest trending gadget, Roger Allam still looks funny with a gun in his hand and young Morse (Shaun Evans) probing a bomb explosion in Oxford United while by following a star footballer who was hit with a death threat.
The player has a George Best lifestyle and yet plays in a small field in front of three men and a dog. Again, the TV series doesn’t do good football. Halfway through, I think Morse – ignorant of the game – is behaving suspiciously, only to remind me that’s not the case. Vigil where Evans is coxswain and number one suspect at exactly the same time on Sunday evening.