sat 02/03/2024

One Night, BBC One | reviews, news & interviews

One Night, BBC One

One Night, BBC One

Promising opening episode of the BBC's new four-part series

Douglas Hodge as the on-the-edge Ted in 'One Night'

“Everything’s so bloody uphill, isn’t it?” whined kitchen salesman Ted (Douglas Hodge) upon realising that he’d left the charcoal for the evening's barbeque at the supermarket. But the charcoal wasn’t really the problem. There was the girl from the estate over the road - “all big earrings and attitude” - dropping litter outside his house and then shouting abuse when he suggested she pick it up.

There was the unspeakable package shoved through the letterbox shortly after he complained to the girl’s school and got her suspended. And there was the lucrative deal with developers that Ted may or may not have ballsed up following an awkward phone conversation with the client, on very the day that his boss and his wife were coming around for a barbeque. And now, the damned charcoal.

Inexplicably buried in the late-night slot, One Night is a four-part drama by Paul Smith, a writer better known for comedy than serious drama, that looks at the intersecting lives of four people separately affected by a single terrible event. Exactly what this event entailed wasn’t clear, but we knew it was linked to the pasty 13-year-old (Billy Matthews [pictured below], a Thomas Turgoose in the making) who pitched up at a police station before the opening credits and handed in a gun.

Picking up on themes explored in films such as Falling Down and Do The Right Thing, last night's opening episode looked at what happens when humiliation is piled upon humiliation, and when a man decides that today he is not going to stand for it. Like Joel Schumacher’s nameless protagonist in Falling Down, the middle-aged Ted could sense younger, keener salesmen snapping at his heels and threatening his livelihood. He had also noted the contempt with which he was viewed by others, from the kids who dropped rubbish in the park to the supermarket worker who couldn’t see past the angry, sweaty man going off on one about charcoal.

While Ted didn’t quite turn vigilante, Michael Douglas-style, he wasn’t above dispensing his own form of criminal justice, grabbing a local boy whom he presumed to have thrown a brick through his window and, after giving him a swift beating, locking him in his shed. It was at this point that our sympathy shifted, and when the action moved from bittersweet Mike Leigh territory to something altogether more menacing.

There were times when Smith rather overcooked the contrast between the affluent central couple and their down-at-heel neighbours, most notably when Ted was poised to sip his first cocktail of the day in his gorgeous south-facing garden just as the kids in the park over the road cranked up the grime. For those brief few seconds we were in Victor Meldrew world. Had Ted picked up a dachshund instead of a phone, we wouldn’t have blinked.

For the most part, however, the writing was more nuanced than that. It was to Smith’s credit, and Douglas Hodge’s grimly plausible performance, that until the kicking-the-kid-in-the-guts incident, we remain understanding of Ted’s plight while seeing how pathetic he appeared in the eyes of his tormentors.

So far, One Night is about a man overwhelmed by petty irritations and unable to see the consequences of his actions. While, early on, one assumed a public-spiritedness to Ted’s attitude towards litter, it later became clear that this was bound up with a sense of entitlement and superiority, a feeling that he shouldn’t have to get so close to his neighbours, let alone pick up after them. For that he paid a hefty price. 

While Ted didn’t quite turn vigilante, he wasn’t above dispensing his own form of criminal justice

Share this article


Its a very good drama. Should have been shown a 9pm! John

Good call. It was a bit of a balancing act but it was painfully tense and painfully funny. I'm really looking forward to the second part.


anyone that can only comment "rubbish" for the bbc drama one night cannot possibly have made any kind of useful assessment. The programme is undeniably difficult to follow at times but then that's the beauty. Too many programmes are such that you could have written the script yourself - here is a script to make you think, watch and wait for the next installment. A joy! and well worth the effort. The bbc should have been braver and given it a better slot.



i absolutely love this drama it is epic. i have been up until 11.45 each night this week

Compelling drama. Who sang the theme song?

The title song for ONE NIGHT is Daedalus and is written and performed by Errollyn Wallen KE

The theme song is written & performed by composer Errollyn Wallen - it's called "Daedalus".

Just watched all 4 episodes between housework today. Excellent drama with rounded main characters...I really cared what became of them. Good variety of Hackney locations but the story could have happened in any similar city location in Britain. Now I want to know what happened next....

I have just finishing watching this. I thought it was a fantastic bit of storytelling and I could in some ways relate to all the characters having experienced some of what happened; being irritated by loud music/littering by teens, or being dragged into immature spats with class mates and falling in love with the wrong boy, having to work so many hours you have no social life left, trying to be 'straight' and not get dragged into gang warfare or just wanting to feel escapism from your trapped situation. Some may argue that it was not really a plausible story but I think it is definitely plausible and is happening right now, again and again, look at the story of Thusha Kamaleswaren, its about time we addressed the worsening situation of Gangs.

Absolutely loved it - More of these please. On a side, your CAPTCHA images are quite rubbish

Fantastic drama, well done BBC and all the actors. Why is everyone trying to find fault? Envy? Who knows, but it was great to watch and I would love to be able to see a drama like this every week instead of having to trawl SKY. Brilliant

I'm 15 and after finishing the final episode i couldn't help thinking how fantastically realistic this drama was, an excellent portrayal of how teenagers can get sucked up into gang culture and first class performance from Billy Matthews who plays Alfie (who stated in an interview that he hasn't actually done any real acting before hand). Amazing from the BBC, more please..

The show was laughable

Add comment


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters