Broadchurch series 2
I couldn’t watch the first series of Broadchurch. Even though it was filmed on part of the beautiful Dorset coast just near where I used to live and despite the excellent cast that included David Tennant and Olivia Coleman, I was put off by the subject matter. The story of a boy murdered is just too close to my worst nightmare of something happening to one of my kids and I’ve reached that age where I don’t want to be distressed when I watch TV any more than I do in day to day life.
I did watch the first and the last episode of the first series, just to see what was going on and to spot the locations. Then there was so much hype about the programme that I felt compelled to watch the second series. I was disappointed.
The second series of Broadchurch descended into just any old courtroom drama and, as one colleague, put it nothing happened for weeks then it was all wrapped up in a matter of 60 minutes in the final episode. Which ended with the words ‘Broadchurch will return’.
It already felt in series two as if writer Chris Chibnall was deliberately unravelling threads that had been tied up in series one to spin the story out for a bit. Is he seriously going to do that again for a third series? Will the audience stick with it?
It’s a shame that a ratings success cannot breed another, different but equally well acted programme rather than pointless extensions of the same show.
Cucumber on Channel 4
A friend and colleague yesterday asked me if I still write. I haven’t written anything other than marketing copy or emails for a few years but I have been watching a fair amount of TV. Not as much as I used to but this January and February I’ve followed three series: Broadchurch, Wolf Hall and Cucumber.
As I tried to go to sleep last night I couldn’t get the latest episode of Channel 4’s Cucumber out of my head. It was shocking, in the sense that I really didn’t see what happened coming and it was disturbing. It felt like the sort of thing that could happen in real life and I had to remind myself I’d watched actors working with a fabulous script by Russell T Davies of whom I a fan.
Davies of course wrote Queer As Folk back in the late 90s about a group of young gay men in Manchester. That series was shocking at the time in its portrayal of fairly explicit gay sex and Cucumber comes in the same vein, if you will, only this time it’s about a group of middle-aged gay men in Manchester.
I could try to write something serious about why I’m interested in a drama about northern gay men. But instead I’ll say something glib which is who wouldn’t want to watch a drama about a group of people of roughly similar age to you but with relatively few responsibilities and a lifestyle which is subtly different from the one you find yourself living. TV is about escapism after all.
But last night’s episode, which I won’t ruin too much for those watching on catch-up, was a kick to the guts and a reminder that people can face danger in the most mundane circumstances as they go about their lives, socialising and working, simply because other people can be unpredictable even to themselves.
It will be fascinating to see how the next episode deals with the storyline of Lance, the gay black guy who moved to Manchester for work and who fell in love; who had a hard time with his partner and whose story was last night told over an episodic hour of flashbacks and present-day action. Thought-provoking and visceral but never sentimental it was easily one of the best things I’ve seen on TV for some time.