Reviewed: Jimmy McGovern’s ‘Accused’ – series 2

7 Sep
Olivia Coleman and Anne Marie Duff

Accused episode 2

Jimmy McGovern’s second series of Accused will wipe the floor with your emotions, and if it doesn’t you’re a psycopath.

We know Accused is good, because it won two International Emmy Awards (best series and best actor – Christopher Ecclestone) and is from Jimmy McGovern, but like a lot of the BBC’s output, they’re not going to rave about it, not going to shout from billboards like Sky or C4, no, they’ll just let it speak for itself. This is a shame because it needs to be watched, and frankly, we’re very busy with our lives and need our attention grabbing, thank you very much, beeb.

Accused is good. It’s got grit, and paints a bleak picture of The North of England, as if someone’s stolen all the primary colours from your pencil case and left you with greys and browns and blacks. But there’s plenty of love. And there’s bravery by the bucket load.

The themes of shame, loyalty, love etc are handled by a master; the characters seem real and flawed, and as it happens, they’re struggling: and with that lack of a good vs evil compass to tell you what to think, you’ll work out for yourself who to root for, and will remain transfixed as the outcome unfolds. If you don’t ask yourself at least once in this short series of 4 episodes ‘what would I do?’ you’re lying.

The cast are astounding. Episode 1’s Sean Bean (Game of Thrones, Lord of The Rings, Sharpe) and Stephen Graham (Boardwalk Empire, Occupation, This is England, Good Cop) kick things off with brilliant chemistry and performances, with shame feeling a central theme. Episode 2 culminates in a showdown between Anne Marie Duff (Shameless, Nowhere Boy, The Virgin Queen) and Olivia Coleman (Tyrannosaur, Peep Show, Rev, Twenty Twelve) that will leave you gasping.

It’s the subtlety of Robert Sheehan’s (Red Riding, Misfits) performance in episode 3 and 4 that truly broke my heart, playing a grieving son who’s slowly slipping away before us, I just wanted to bring him back to reality before his actions go too far. It’s episode 4’s Anna Maxwell Martin who gave the stand out performance of the series, exposed, violated and panicked, but never showing any vulnerability until the climactic final scenes. Watch it all while you can on iPlayer:


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