Poliakoff indeed directs as well, and does a better job (albeit with much more cohesive, fully-formed script material) with his own script than Dennis Potter did with his direction of his own "Blackeyes". Whereas "Blackeyes" had some beautiful dialogue and usual use of music to great emotional effect, it is a threadbare, over-stretched series in comparison to "Shooting the Past", which has economy (though I could have happily watched hours more), precision and great emotion and humanism in its writing.
Suffice to say, performances are top notch. Timothy Spall magnificent in bringing to life this oddball, yet formidable, unpredictable *and* very endearing character of Oswald. Lindsay Duncan is astonishing really, thoroughly convincing and wonderfully expressive physically and vocally. Liam Cunningham is marvelous also as the American magnate type figure, who turns out not to be quite the archetype we suspect him to be. Billie Whitelaw I liked in a more minor role, this other worker in the museum who can only "beaver away" in her words...! My, Emilia Fox was enchanting as the modish, but inscrutable and otherworldly Spig... The video I have of this series has these two monologues at the end which are a very nice bonus, showing just how much can be done with photographs and storytelling.
Of course, the aural and visual still set pieces, composed of stills and Lindsay Duncan's narrations are absolutely engaging and enchanting. Liam Cunningham's acting all the way through these, is superlative. Overall, I don't think a mere precis of mine can truly be adequate; suffice it to say, a labour of love, an encapsulation of the saddest and finest emotions and an argument for eccentricity and intelligence and even hope in humanity...