sat 15/06/2024

Come Home, BBC One review - a drama of family disintegration, divided loyalties | reviews, news & interviews

Come Home, BBC One review - a drama of family disintegration, divided loyalties

Come Home, BBC One review - a drama of family disintegration, divided loyalties

A mother leaves her children: Christopher Eccleston and Paula Malcomson star in Danny Brocklehurst's new creation

Missing mum: Greg (Christopher Eccleston) with Liam (Anthony Boyle), Laura (Lola Petticrew) and five-year-old Molly (Darcey McNeeley)

A woman walks out on her husband and their three kids – two teens, one five-year-old - after 19 years of marriage. She doesn’t want custody. What could be so wrong with the man that she’s driven to such drastic action? Eleven months later, Greg (Christopher Eccleston, anguished but plucky, with a shaky Northern Irish accent) doesn’t seem to have the answer.

This doesn’t help matters on his sticky first go at internet dating, where his opening gambit is to enthuse about Jon Ronson’s book The Psychopath Test and the conversation, before the question of the whereabouts of his wife comes up, lingers agonisingly on the collection days and colour of recycling bins (brown, blue and green, apparently).

Belfast, where Come Home (BBC One) is set, may be advanced when it comes to recycling, but this latest three-part drama from Danny Brocklehurst (Shameless, Ordinary Lies, In the Dark) has a retrograde, rickety feel, as if it might collapse under the weight of confronting the stigma of a woman who leaves her children. There are lots of flashbacks but the first episode doesn’t come close to explaining why the fragile-looking Marie (Belfast-born Paula Malcomson, star of Deadwood and Ray Donovan, pictured below) has done a runner, though the second episode does bring her perspective into focus.marieShe hasn’t run far – just two miles away, on her own in a terraced house, bumping into her old book group in the pub, secretly meeting 14-year-old daughter Laura (Lola Petticrew) for lunch sometimes. We hear that Marie felt like she was drowning, that she couldn’t breathe in the marriage. Now she’s ostracised by former friends. Five-year-old Molly (Darcey McNeeley) has started wetting the bed and has a stress-related rash. Liam (Anthony Boyle), 17, who works at his dad’s car mechanic business, has developed a facial tic. Greg’s very slow at plaiting hair. No one is doing well.

But although Greg is heart-broken and having flashbacks about happy times with Marie, it doesn’t take him long to move live-wire Brenna (Kerri Quinn) – she runs a sandwich business from her van called Brenna’s Baps - into his bed, complete with its Orla Kiely sheets. “Are you for real? The sandwich woman?” says Liam scathingly to his dad. And it does seem hasty, what with the kids being traumatised and Brenna, whose small son is also in tow, having a violent, obsessively jealous husband. Still, as Greg says, he’s allowed to have some fun, isn’t he?

Brenna’s idea of fun is to get pissed over her homemade spag bol and tell the kids to grow up and move on, and, while they’re at it, to try some E or ketamine and enjoy life. “I was wanting to get some coke for your dad but I worried his wee heart might not keep up,” she says drolly. This brings on Liam’s tic and causes Greg to give pause, but only briefly, and they’re soon off having sex again, probably keeping everyone awake. The walls look thin. You do pity those poor teenagers, forced to be the responsible ones, and the role-reversal is neatly done. When Brenna’s snoring, Greg goes downstairs and, in a touching scene, puts on his old Velvet Underground LP. “Linger on your pale blue eyes” plays softly and he thinks about Marie.

“You’ve broken my heart and the kids’ hearts,” Greg tells her at the end of episode one. “Whatever you’ve got here, single life, freedom, it’s not real.” So far, in spite of impressive performances from all, this drama about family disintegration doesn’t feel quite real either.

You do pity those poor teenagers, forced to be the responsible ones, and the role-reversal is neatly done


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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