sun 14/04/2024

Public Enemies, BBC One | reviews, news & interviews

Public Enemies, BBC One

Public Enemies, BBC One

Unstable jailbird meets uncertain parole officer in Tony Marchant's new three-parter

Can Paula Radnor (Anna Friel) trust Eddie Mottram (Daniel Mays)?

I had been planning to speculate about what might happen in the finale of Public Enemies, but its three-night run was shifted back a day to accommmodate a Panorama special about the Stephen Lawrence case.

Thus we only have the opener to go on, in which convicted murderer Eddie Mottram (Daniel Mays, pictured below) was released after serving 10 years in jail, and was assigned to the probationary care of Paula Radnor (Anna Friel).

It frequently looked as if Friel had been condemned to a repeat of her recent role in ITV1's Without You, where she moped about neurotically and became convinced her husband had been murdered despite a complete lack of evidence (she was right, of course). Here, she was playing a parole officer on the edge, which gave her new opportunities to be anguished and tearful.

Paula had been too trusting of one of her previous clients, another paroled killer, who had convinced her that he was a reformed character before going out and killing again. Following a period of suspension, Paula was back at her desk and trying to put this traumatic failure behind her, but being given Mottram as her first client could hardly be regarded as winning the probation service lottery. You'd think he might have been delighted to be out of jail, but instead he kept complaining about the conditions in his bail hostel, couldn't understand why people might feel hostility towards a man who'd murdered his girlfriend, and resented his old mates because they hadn't visited him in prison frequently enough. "I'm out but I'm not free!" he wailed (Paula faces the press, pictured below).

It was part of writer Tony Marchant's purpose to evoke the pitfalls which plague former jailbirds trying to readjust to life on the other side of the wall, but Eddie would test the patience of a stone Buddha. Still, the part gave Mays plenty of space to charge around in - rather more than he'd enjoyed as Dr Livesey in Sky1's new Treasure Island - and his rubbery, sad-puppy face broadcasts shifts of emotion like an Aldis lamp. He threw himself into Eddie's wild mood swings from petulance and rage to schoolboyish delight, managing to convey the idea of a man whose experiences have stunted his emotional development and left him with a mental age somewhere in the mid-teens.


Less persuasive was the notion that Jade (Aisling Loftus, pictured below), the attractive young co-worker at the garden centre where Paula had managed to find Eddie a job, would immediately succumb to his difficult-to-discern charms, but they barely seemed to have met before they were rutting noisily in a toilet cubicle. He's having problems getting round to telling her what got him locked up for so long, though.

Predictably, Paula's habit of trusting people too readily is already coming back to haunt her, though the fact that she still hasn't learned how to control this potentially catastrophic urge doesn't bode well for her career development. She has let Eddie get away with provoking a violent encounter with the father of his murder victim, and he overstepped the boundaries again by confronting the solicitor who worked on his case. "You got a second chance, didn't ya?" he implored her. "Please trust me." Sure enough, those basset-hound eyes were just too much for her.

The episode ended, as it had to, with a twist. A desperate Eddie came hammering on Paula's door, yelling through the letterbox that he was an innocent man who hadn't murdered anyone. Will she believe him? I reckon she will.  

It was part of writer Tony Marchant's purpose to evoke the pitfalls which plague former jailbirds trying to readjust to life on the other side of the wall

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Some excellent performances from Daniel Mays and Anna Friel but Eddie's fuse so so short would he not be returned to prison much earlier than he was (later episode)? I understand why the garden centre was used as a location - but we never saw a customer in half a dozen visits there. How did it stay in business? Of course, had there been any customers they would have been frightened away by all the shouting. Niggles apart, more first class drama from the BBC.

Wonderfull performance from both actors but especially from Daniel Mays! I'd love to buy this series on DVD! a dutch BBC viewer!

yes excellent Daniel Mays. Friel interesting enough. But Marchant script always worth following. Shame about the denouement. Too soft by half.

Does anybody know who the composer was for Public Enemies or what the piece of music over the closing credits is called? Thanks

Absolutely need find that music used for the closing credits!!!!! HELP

Thoroughly enjoyed this drama from start to finish...sorry it had to end. I thought the Paula character was going to annoy me but warmed to her after a while....Was really worried thing were going to turn out wrong for Eddie... Am very disappointed at the moment as there are no signs of a DVD being released....

As a released lifer on life licence (not my real name) I found Public Enemies a distortion of the reality of a lifer on release, in fact a joke. Temper tantrums by the main player would render him likely to recall. As someone convicted of the murder of a woman he would without doubt have a licence condition that he must inform probation of any developing intimate relationship with a woman failure which again might recall. Moreover, the probation officer would never get involved in an offender's campaign to clear his name. Probation officers exist to manage the offender in this case a lifer with strict licence conditions and the first remit is public protection. A big question might exist were a lifer started to proclaim his innocence on release and his remorse for the offence. Public Enemies was muddled and more like a romance with a predictable outcome which would never have reached that stage in real life without senior managers becoming involved that might have resulted in dismissal or transfer to another office and certainly for him to have been taken off her case load. This film wasn't as clever as it thinks it is.

great perfomance shows how hard it is when realeased from prison innocent or not it's as close as you would get to being real life

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