‘Accused’ – Tracie’s Story
Earlier in the week the BBC screened the first episode of a new series by Jimmy McGovern, The Accused. Needless to say with the great man at the helm this was never going to be anything other than a triumph, something that Fergal Kinney confirms for us below.
Jimmy McGovern as a writer is a phenomena all too rare in Britain, and arguably a remnant of an age in which the media were much more supportive of non-university educated writers. Cutting his teeth as a writer for ”ËBrookside‘ before spawning the fiercely intelligent ”ËCracker’ in the nineties, Jimmy McGovern is one of the undeniable heroes of British drama. As with the best of McGovern’s work, if there isn’t a great story, there isn’t a script ”â and that’s why the big name actors keep coming. ”ËThe Street’ brought names as big as Bob Hoskins and Jim Broadbent to a modestly budgeted BBC drama; and tonight’s first episode of the second series boasts Sean Bean and Stephen Graham from the word go.
Each episode begins with a character entering a courtroom to begin their trial, and throughout the episode the reasons how and why are revealed through flashbacks. Tonight is the turn of Sharpe star Sean Bean as Tracie, the vivacious feminine alter ego of the insufferably bored Simon, a Mancunian teacher searching for an escape from the strife of trying to bring alive Tennyson to teenagers. Tracie finds herself in a taxi home with Tony ”â one of the loutish stags who had that night inflicted a ritual abuse at her. Tony, played impeccably by Stephen Graham, begins a romance of sorts with Tracie; becoming increasingly dependent on her yet increasingly desperate to maintain the facade of normality that is his everyday married life. From the vulnerability of Simon to find love and Tony’s fear of his mask of normality slipping, tragedy breeds, and Tracie finds herself implicated in a serious crime.
Co-written with fellow ex-Brookside writer Shaun Duggan (famed for writing the historic lesbian kiss and being one time confidante to Morrissey) ”ËAccused’ features all the gritty hallmarks of McGovern’s previous work; the dialogue is perfectly crafted with touches of humour cutting through the bleakness of the situation, such as the scene where Tracie totters into a make-up shop stating her intention to ”Ëlook like Cheryl Cole’. McGovern has a unique ability to peer into the darkest crevices of the human psyche, and few are more adept at bringing to life this darkness than Stephen Graham, whose portrayal of Tony is understated and haunting. Sean Bean gives a nuanced and delicate performance as Tracie/Simon, something that far exceeds his previous blockbuster flirtations. The ineptitudes of the British judicial system are explored through the intimidation and growing sense of despair of the court room, and the figures in the dock become victims to champion in their own right like the victims in McGovern’s previous dramas on the Liverpool Dockers dispute and the Hillsborough disaster. As with ”ËThe Street’, the situations and dilemmas of the characters are so achingly real that ”ËAccused’ becomes an incredibly physically affecting hour of television, and is a triumph for British writing and the BBC itself.
This episode of ”ËAccused’ is available on BBC iPlayer (https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p00wb9zz/Accused_Series_2_Tracies_Story/) and the next episode is on Tuesday 21st August on BBC1 at 9pm.
All words by Fergal Kinney. More writing by Fergal can be found here.