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Loving You (2003)
Love and Trust central themes to this adaptation.
When I have a favourite book and I hear that it has been adapted for a TV drama or film I suppose I am aware that changes will be made, that imagery will be lost and several characters will be different or omitted altogether.
The drama Loving You is adapted from one of my favourite books Trust by Margaret Leroy so when I watched it I hoped that I would still like the way the story developed.
Loving You had had very favourable previews in the press and critics liked the simplicity of this production.
Chloe(Niamh Cusack) a teacher and divorced mother with two daughters meets Dan(Douglas Henshall) an Educational Psychologist. Dan moves in with Chloe and her daughters Lucy and Alice.
Dan is perfect and their relationship seems ideal. He also gets on well with Chloe's youngest daughter and does his best to relate to her teenage daughter. Then one day Dan is arrested after being accused of abusing a 6 year old girl he has been assessing. Chloe has to decide if Dan is still the man she thought he was.
Douglas Henshall never afraid to tackle controversial roles is at his best here. He is able to portray the warmth and sensitivity of Dan's character and then change to a man desperate to believe that he is still loved and trusted by the woman he adores.
Nothing to do with the plot, but I did love Douglas Henshall's short burst of air guitar to a track by Coldplay and that 'worst' face he made when trying to make the little girl laugh. These are the subtle details they make him so watchable
Complimentary is Niamh Cusack's Chloe, you are able to sympathize with her as she struggles to convince herself that the man she believes she knows well is innocent
I also liked the natural performances of the children.
At times I was quite concerned at both Chloe and Dan's lack of knowledge about child protection issues both professionally and privately. They both seemed quite naive in this respect. Although I do realize that the drama was trying to show how things which seem innocent can lead to misinterpretation.
Also felt quite sorry for Dan he was so lovely, yet he had no friends other than Chloe, no colleagues, and no union rep. I believe he had a daughter away at college, yet she made no effort to contact her Dad.
So, was the drama faithful to the book? Not really, but that doesn't mean that it wasn't a good drama, the central themes of love and trust were still there. If you can get hold of a copy of the book Trust I think it would be worth reading. Even if you have seen this drama it won't spoil the book's ending, because it was changed for this adaptation.
Lawless Heart (2001)
Wonderful film, shame about Tim's parents
I'd been waiting for ages to see this film, ever since I read about the making of it in January 2001. It's been a long wait since the London premier in November to it's recent general release. However it was well worth the wait. I liked the way that the film told the story from three different points of view. It was interesting how sometimes when you thought there were only two people in the scene first time,eventually you saw there were actually three or four. I was moved by Tom Hollander's performance as Nick trying to come to terms with his grief. I laughed and cried with Tim, A brilliant performance by Douglas Henshall. My only criticism of the film was Tim's parents. We only see them in a few scenes, but neither of them is like him. You would expect at least one of them to enjoy a 'right old knees up', or you would expect them to be kind salt of the earth types, instead they are portrayed as cold and indifferent. A lot of film critics have described Tom as the returning prodigal son, if he had been then his parents would have had the party for him, he wouldn't have had to organize his own. That aside I loved all of the other characters and the way they were portrayed. I don't think that anyone who has lost a friend or loved one could fail to be moved by the final scene. On the whole this is a wonderful British film.
Aint no mountain high enough
Rockface is a nice gentle drama about the fictional Glentannoch mountain rescue team based in Scotland. It was broadcast on BBC 1 on Wednesday evenings between March and April 2002. It was the kind of programme which used to fit into the Sunday slot.
Everything about the series was gorgeous and I don't just mean the Scottish scenery! There were pretty girls, attractive women, good looking boys and handsome men. All of them looked really good in fleeces and waterproof jackets.
When it comes to the rescues their aint no mountain high enough for this group. Some of the rescues seemed quite light hearted, others were quite gruesome.I won't forget the guy covered in blood with maggots crawling out of his head!
In between the rescues we found out about the personal lives of the team. There was Gordon Urquhart (Clive Russel), the team leader and his wife and daughter, young Jamie Doughan ( Rupert Evans),who is not pleased when his mother turns up as a consultant at the local hospital and then there's Ben Craig(Cal Macaninch), who has a secret that he is determined to keep from his brother Peter(James Sieves) and sister-in -law Annie(Zoe Eeles). We also have Mike Bayliss( Richard Graham) who sees himself as one for the ladies.
For me the real hero, who proved himself right to the very end, was the second leader Douglas McLanaghan played by Brendan Coyle. If you were a young lady recovering from shock he was there to give you a reassuring hug and if you were his god daughter he would hug you ,swing you round and lend you twenty quid! He was involved with the 'feisty' Nurse Helen (Kim Vithana). She comes on a bit heavy to poor Doug at times. She says she doesn't want to storm his "inner sanctum" , which she sees as"strictly off limits, no females admitted, totally private". All poor Doug wants is his bathroom kept tidy and a plain "Yes" or "No".
Some of the story lines were predictable e.g. How would Caroline Morrison (Melanie Gutteridge) be able to prove herself worthy of the team? I would have liked to have seen more cliff hangers at the end of each episode! I liked the fact that episodes 5 and 6 were a two part story and probably the most exciting and least predictable.
The BBC announced at the end of the first series that another series is planned. I hope all the original cast are contracted to return. The series also starred Louise Goodall( from My Name is Joe) as the person who took the calls, it would have been nice for her to have had a bigger part in the drama.
On the whole I really enjoyed this series.
Thief Takers (1995)
A brilliant police series
This brilliant police series is still often repeated on UK Drama. Although it was made in 1996 it doesn't yet look dated. Each episode concentrates on one or two of the main characters and their private lives, which usually involve the crimes they are working on at the time.
The flying squad deals with armed robbery and murder, so there are plenty of exciting car chases and shoot outs.However, the series also finds time for relationships and romance.
So many well-known actors made guest appearances in this series, including Nick Moran, Ray Winstone and Dougie Henshall.
If you get the chance to see it, I think you'll agree that it was a pity there were only 3 series made.
Totally brilliant series
Psychos, a drama set in the psychiatric unit of a Scottish Hospital was a totally brilliant series. The title referred to the doctors, not the patients. Douglas Henshall as Dr Daniel Nash and Neve McIntosh as Dr Kate Millar played a mismatched pair of co-workers.Nash is a doctor whose life is in worse shape than his patients, whereas Millar is a committed and self assured junior doctor. Friends of mine involved in psychiatric work believed the series to be very realistic. Originally it was thought that this would run for a second series, sadly it was not meant to be. The series was criticized mainly for its title and also for its content. Last year I wrote to channel 4 and asked if they were going to release Psychos as a video. They replied they had no plans to do so.This is a great loss both to those who have never seen the series and to those who like me who would have loved to have seen it again.The series was originally broadcast first on a Wednesday evening and repeated on the following Saturday. Unfortunately it has not been repeated since.
Gentlemen's Relish (2001)
an excellent comedy drama
Gentlemen's Relish is an excellent comedy drama set in Edwardian times.It was first broadcast on British television on New Year's Day 2001. At the beginning of the story we are introduced to artist Kingdom Swann(Billy Connolly)who decides to take up photography when his style of painting goes out of fashion.He is persuaded by his assistant Cromwell Marsh(Douglas Henshall) to take photographs of tasteful nude tableaux.The story develops from there.
There are some terrific one liners and very funny situations and the story does explore the question of morality.Billy Connolly is very convincing as the innocent Swann and Douglas Henshall gives a brilliant comedy performance as the cockney rogue Marsh.
The film is 90 minutes long and although it went straight to television ,it was good enough for a cinema release.
Anna Karenina (2000)
An excellent production which tells the tale of three couples.
This new adaption of Anna Karenina was first shown on British TV in May 2000 as a four week mini series.Since the production is over four hours long,it is able to explore the main characters in detail.It doesn't just concentrate on Anna's(Helen McCrory)relationships with Karenin(Stephen Dillane) and Vronsky(Kevin McKidd),but also the relationships between Levin and Kitty and Oblonsky and Dolly. The film opens and closes with the character of Levin.Douglas Henshall is well cast as the idealistic Levin,haunted by his past.Paloma Baeza plays his wife Kitty as a pure and innocent girl who is also very kind and wise. Mark Strong is very convincing as the philandering Oblonsky and Stephen Dillane excellent as the faithful and dignified Karenin. The series was criticized in the UK for it's explicit love scenes.Personally I don't think they were that explicit.Also these scenes were necessary to tell the story in the twenty-first century. My only criticism would be that although Helen McCrory and Kevin McKidd's performances were very good,their characters seemed to lack chemistry. Overall this is an excellent production,which is well worth seeing.
I'm not from Glasgow
I'm not from Glasgow, but I rate this film as one of the best British films in recent years. It certainly deserves all it's awards and nominations. The film is a powerful drama with some humorous moments. It is often intense and explores grief and the relationship between the four siblings coping with the death of their mother. All the action takes place the night before the funeral. Sometimes the accents are difficult to understand, but it is well worth making the effort to try and understand. It is a mystery as to why the still photographs from the film are not actually scenes from the final addition of the film. I understand that film four accidently destroyed a lot of the original footage, so maybe some of the original scenes are lost forever.