As a performer, Christopher Eccleston is as brilliant as he is infuriating. ‘The chippiest actor in Britain’ (his words, not mine), he worries away at questions of truth and integrity like a dog with a bone, forever beating himself up for taking paydirt roles in rotten Hollywood blockbusters (having conveniently already banked the cheques).
He’ll have no such crisis of conscience over Come Home, which finds him well within his earthy, blue collar comfort zone as Greg, a Belfast mechanic struggling to understand why his wife Marie (Paula Malcomson) suddenly walked out on him and their three children without explanation. Eccleston is outstanding, of course: he plays the role like a punch-drunk boxer, grief etched in every line of that magnificent face, and the Northern Irish accent makes him sound even more intense than usual, if that’s possible.
In his confusion, Greg has embarked on a rebound relationship with the equally damaged Brenna (Kerri Quinn), complete with teenage-style fumbles in the back of the car. When she and her son were threatened by her violent thug of a husband, Greg moved them into his family home, Brenna’s drunken attempt to ingratiate herself with his kids resulting in perhaps the most excruciating night in since Abigail’s Party.
Danny (Ordinary Lies) Brocklehurt’s nuanced, emotionally intelligent study of atomised relationships is full of tiny heartbreaks – like Greg’s hopeless attempt at plaiting his young daughter’s hair – beautifully played by the ensemble cast. And there’s proper, watch-through-your-fingers tension, too, like the scene in which Greg was discovered hiding behind the shower curtain in Marie’s new house.
Most intriguingly, we’ve so far only seen one side of the story. Though Greg kept insisting Marie had left ‘for no good reason’, there was a telling moment when she said, in a small voice: ‘There were reasons.’ Chief among them, perhaps, being landed with a third child she’d never wanted.
Like Dominic West and Ruth Wilson in The Affair, next week’s episode will turn the tables and tell the story from Marie’s point of view. Predicted Eccleston Intensity Level: critical.
RAF at 100 with Ewan and Colin McGregor
This fitting salute to those magnificent men (and women) in their flying machines struck just the right balance between boy’s own heroism and poignant remembrance. Of the former, the highlight was Ewan McGregor and his ex-pilot brother Colin playing at dogfights with two shiny new £60m Typhoon combat aircraft. But the real stars were the likes of Battle of Britain veteran Geoffrey Wellum, watching an aerial re-enactment and noting ‘Those cockpits are full of ghosts’.
Martin Luther King by Trevor McDonald
Trevor McDonald’s powerful film about the life and death of an accidental icon (Martin Luther King had sought a quiet life as a preacher until ‘history came knocking on his door’) marshalled an impressive line-up of interviewees, including Harry Belafonte, Colin Powell and civil rights legend John Lewis. But it was King’s god-daughter, Donzaleigh Abernathy, who most powerfully articulated his legacy when she told McDonald: ‘You can kill the dreamer, but you cannot kill the dream.’
Published in Waitrose Weekend, March 29, 2018
(c) Waitrose Weekend