5 July 2017 | bongo-6
Terrific performance from Sean Bean.
This is not a perfect series; it all adds up in the end, but each episode is devoted to a different character and plot line, and some of those slip in to following episodes. The playing of the priest by Sean Bean is as natural a performance that you will see anywhere. Bean plays a maverick of a priest with unconventional approaches and attitudes to religion and a very chatty way of delivering the sermon and the mass. This is a priest, though, with a past; a past of the ordinary red blooded male who becomes a priest after he has sewn his wild oats and he questions the faith and whether he is fit enough to even be a priest. His demons attack him every time he performs the Eucharist - if perform is the right word - and images from his past flood through his mind every time he takes the piece of bread before he turns it into Christ. The first episode tells you what the whole series is about when a character is found 'borrowing money' from the till of her employer just to feed her kids. Then we have a scene at the Social Security office, after she is fired, which we have seen in films by Ken Loach and Tony Garnet but we go a little further in this story. The performances are generally excellent and played for realism but everything seemed to be blamed on the southerners. Apart from a black family from the West Indies all the cast were 'northerners' but why did they have to have the big bad bully of a bookie who makes all the money from his slot machines played by a 'southerner' - a cockney? It's as if everything is blamed on the south east of the country - the priest says this in one of his sermons in the final episode - and sometimes the script takes a heavy hammer to the subject when a more subtle approach might have been more acceptable; I mean I've seen tally men in Manchester fleecing the poor housewife who's run out of money but the whole piece is very highly recommended, nonetheless, and very watchable with beautiful music and songs by Nina Simone and Ray Davies. The last thing I would say about this series is that it is very difficult to work out if it is pro or anti Catholic or even religion; the priest is a good man and does good work and where would we be without the work of the church but they preach to us telling us that there is a God - or a god - and it's as if they help us in the community and expect us to believe. The same dilemma is in the excellent British movie The Singer not the Song with John Mills and Dirk Bogarde.