18 July 2003 | Ashles
The finest drama series ever created
I cannot recommend this highly enough. A fiercely intelligent, disturbing, powerful, funny masterwork by a writer and cast at their peak. The main character, Dr Fitzgerald, a lecturing psychologist who assists the police was originally envisaged by the writer (Jimmy McGovern) as a small, wiry character. Then some genius decided on one of the greatest pieces of stunt casting ever and suggested the massive actor Robbie Coltrane who was better known for comedy (appearing in Blackadder as Doctor Johnson, and the Young Ones, amongst many other appearance, both in TV and film).
He nailed the character totally. A chain smoking, gambling, alcoholic, 'Fitz' can talk to someone for 30 seconds and know what drives them, but he can't control his own domestic life. Nor does he ever seem totally to want to. "You don't want to be helped" says his wife "Because only normal people need help. And you think you're special, unique".
His gift of analysing people makes him almost despicable arrogant, yet we are always on his side. He is charming, extremely sarcastic and amusing, and always up for a trip to the pub. But the challenge of analysing the criminally insane gives him wings to stretch himself in ways everyday life can't.
I won't give away any of the plots, but each one would make a fantastic film on its own. However that would diminish the power of the story arc that runs throughout - and that pushes the series up to a perfect 10/10. Harrowing, touching, powerful - when will TV companies make something this good again.
(NB if you can only watch one episode watch 'To be a somebody' - an excellent encapsulation of all the programme's best qualities)