Saturday, 10 February 2007

My Picks for 2006 (5)- What We Did On Holiday

The final TV pick of 2006 is the most surprising pick of the year, with genuinely unexpected results...

A strange thing happened in the autumn, ITV started to show good dramas. They kept showing the bog standard ones like Where the Heart Is, Heartbeat and The Royal, but for about 4 weeks in October they showed good quality dramas!!!

Starting the mini revival was the return of Cracker, featuring Robbie Coltraine’s fictional gambling alcoholic criminal psychologist (the original of the personality trait obsessed cop shows, though Fitz isn’t a cop and the personality traits are secondary to the narrative. It still doesn’t stop this formula get copied to death) followed by another return, Helen Mirren’s Jane Tennison in Prime Suspect 7:The Final Act. Both were excellent, and examples of the sort of drama that ITV used to be good at…

However my last pick of the year is the drama that was shown between the new Cracker and Prime Suspect. What We Did On Holiday, had Shane Ritchie as Nick, a loving husband (to Angeline Ball) & son (of Pauline Collins and Roger Lloyd-Pack, both last seen in this years Doctor Who) who takes his family on holiday to Malta, where his dad was stationed during his National Service. Except Jim (Lloyd-Pack), who is in the later stages of Parkinson’s disease, confesses that he has a son living on the island.

The family track down Anthony, who by appearing to be more successful in life puts more strain on Nick’s relationship with his wife Laura (Ball). Nick is suspicious of Anthony, and is proved correct when Anthony runs off with money that was meant for a timeshare.

This is on the list, because it is good, but it did surprise me how good it was. ITV makes this kind of drama in its sleep, and it is usually terrible. This one was actually really good. The first big surprise was Shane Ritchie. He’s not the best actor in the world, but he somehow pulled it off here as the stressed Nick, going against what perceived wisdom dictates is his type (he played Alfie Moon in Eastenders, which was perceived to be close to his own personality). His scene at the end, with Jim was genuinely touching. Either that or I am getting too soft in my old age.

The narrative was also surprisingly good. At no point did the writer or director whip out the rose tinted glasses or turn the melodrama on, instead we had the plot of is Anthony what he says he is or not. The ending however was the clincher for me. After Anthony has been stopped by Nick, the family are on the beech when Nick takes Jim out for a swim, when the tide starts to come in a bit, Jim asks Nick to let him go, euthanasia by li-lo. The acting here was just excellent, full of emotion.

This blog was originaly published on December 24th 2006

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