Remember State Of Play? Paul Abbott's perfect "journalism conspiracy thriller", starring John Simm, James McAvoy, David Morrissey, Bill Nighy and a host of other wonderful British actors, was simply incredible; my favourite ever tv series. Abbot's mind is full of "clever but believable" plots. I wish I could write like him... I can't. But it's okay! Because there is a man who can!
Daniel Brocklehurst has written for Shameless and countless other British tv favourites, but in my opinion has excelled himself in the Paul Abbott creation "Exile", a three part "father and son story with a thriller motor" recently aired on BBC One.
Tom Ronstadt (Simm) is a prick. A womanising, drug-taking, boozy schmoozy investigative journalist, kicked off his paper for basically being all of the above. He heads back to his childhood home - the only place he has any friends anymore - where his sister Nancy (Olivia Colman) is taking care of their father, Sam (beautifully played by Jim Broadbent) who is suffering from Alzheimer's.
Sam was once an investigative journalist too, but something in his work changed him - when Tom was a teenager, caught rummaging through his dad's work papers, he was beaten by Sam to within an inch of his life. This was the last day Tom spent with his father. Returning, Tom pledges to find out just what triggered the change in Sam's personality... And what a can of worms he opens!
Once again, I don't want to give away too much about the twists and turns of the story - it's still available on iPlayer and you should all have a look, if you have the time. It's a smaller tale than State Of Play, but it's get that same "desperate feel" about it. Even though he didn't write it himself, the script has Paul Abbott written all over it; it's just wonderful.
Once again - as is the norm - John Simm steals the show as the not-very-nice-but-still-good "hero" of the piece; coincidentally playing a journalist again. It feels as though, if it was tweaked, this could be the second instalment in a "Cal McCaffrey" series. It isn't, but it could be. And massive credit to both Jim Broadbent and Olivia Colman, too, who shine in every scene they appear in, which is "most scenes". In fact, there isn't a performance in the whole series that jars. Everything comes together, too, satisfyingly enough. When the story gets into gear (it takes a while, a little into episode two, but that's fine because the characters keep you watching) the reveals happen fast. It's not the kind of show you can wander away from to make tea.
Most of me wanted to watch this because Abbott had a hand in it - the man is truly a genius. But I ended up forgetting all about this being a piece of drama (despite the "State Of Play-esque" score running all over the piece) and got lost in the personal lives of these normal - but not quite so - characters. When the last episode finished, I wanted more. I loved it. I hope you do too.