wed 17/07/2019

From There to Here, BBC One | reviews, news & interviews

From There to Here, BBC One

From There to Here, BBC One

Good cast but mixed messages from Manchester-based drama

Mid-life crisis? Philip Glenister as Daniel with Liz White as Joanne

There's a bit of Gene Hunt revisited in Peter Bowker's new three-part drama. Philip Glenister returns to the Manchester stomping grounds he patrolled in Life on Mars, and he even drives an Audi (though it isn't Hunt's celebrated Quattro).  But this time he's not a cop.

It's 15 June 1996, the Euro 96 football championships are just swinging into action, and the Stone Roses and New Order are on the soundtrack. Glenister plays successful businessman Daniel Cotton, doing his best to patch up a poisonous family rift between his father Samuel (Bernard Hill, pictured below) and wayward, wastrel brother Robbo (a permanently wrecked-looking Steven Mackintosh).

Daniel gets the three of them together in a big, empty pub one afternoon to try and thrash out a bit of common ground. It's not going well. Then there's a massive explosion, the windows are blown in and chunks of the ceiling are tumbling down around them. It's the IRA bomb that went off on Manchester's Corporation Street, and Bowker's plan is to show how the event altered the lives of his protagonists.

Amazingly, the bomb didn't kill anybody, but more than 200 people were injured, and it caused catastrophic damage to Manchester's city centre. In the light of this, it feels a little odd to find From There to Here coming on a bit like a sitcom which has somehow stumbled onto the set of a heavyweight drama. Glenister relishes the opportunity to shoot barbed one-liners from the hip, while his financial-whizzkid son Charlie (Daniel Rigby, of BT broadband commercials fame) is locked in a battle of insults with his left-leaning sister Louise (Morven Christie). They might as well be colour-coded in blue and red respectively.

Even Samuel's head injury, which prompted him to have a mild stroke, was a bit of a red herring, and was mainly a pretext for him to behave even more like a grouchy old paterfamilias than usual while his family gathered around him for bouts of sustained bickering. Sam is so antique that he runs an old-fashioned sweet company, Cottons Confectionary, which makes sherbet lemons and pear drops.

Nonetheless, there are some plot strands which offer some Mancunian promise. Daniel, jaded by married life with Claire (Saskia Reeves), is striking up a dangerous rapport with barmaid-cum-hospital-worker Joanne (Liz White), his feelings intensified by the discovery that she happens to be from the same area of Southport where he lived before he was adopted. He has a strange sensation that he's been "chosen" for something, which looks suspiciously like a mid-life crisis (below, Claire and Daniel Cotton and kids).

In the middle of all this, bro' Robbo is a like a dramatic suspect device, always on the brink of yet another really stupid and probably criminal stunt. He runs the Boo nightclub and is in debt to a bunch of tooled-up gangsters, but seeing people getting compensation payouts for bomb damage has inspired him to get into the arson business. This looks as if it's going to go just as well as you might expect.

This is an odd mixture of comedy, drama, cliché and slapstick. That doesn't mean it's not enjoyable, but it does mean it isn't the life-changing TV event the BBC pre-publicity wanted us to believe it is.

Seeing people getting compensation payouts for bomb damage has inspired Robbo to get into the arson business


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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Very watchable, though the best thing about it was the soundtrack. Quite cleverly directed – when dad has his stroke his position on the floor, arms outstretched, echoed the position of Gazza on the grass onnthe telly celebrating his England goal. One thing intrigued me though, I kept seeing glimpses of posters advertising a gig by The Drones, who were an early Manchester punk band briefly managed by Paul Morley, but surely defunct in 1996 (though looking on google they did reform later, like everyone else). Was this some kind of set designer in-joke or did I mis-read the posters?

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