tue 10/12/2019

Gold Digger, BBC One review - Julia Ormond tackles those mid-life blues | reviews, news & interviews

Gold Digger, BBC One review - Julia Ormond tackles those mid-life blues

Gold Digger, BBC One review - Julia Ormond tackles those mid-life blues

Marnie Dickens's family drama asks if life can begin again at 60

What's his game? Julia (Julia Ormond) meets Benjamin (Ben Barnes)

A tip of the hat to Julia Ormond for boldly going where many an actress might have chosen not to. In this new six-parter by Marnie Dickens, she plays Julia Day, a mother of three who’s just divorced her husband and is turning 60. Dickens’s objective, we may surmise, was to drive away the fog of invisibility which can descend irrationally upon mature women, however capable they may be, and demonstrate that age can indeed be just a number.

Julia has reached a turning point, and is brooding over roads taken or not taken, and what her life is worth. As she puts it in a voice-over, “daughter, wife, mother… these are my roles. I chose them, for better or worse.”

Ruefully examining her brand new Senior Citizen railcard, she travels to London from her home in Devon to celebrate her 60th with her family, but her plans hit the buffers. Daughter Della gets stranded at an airport, her morbid City lawyer son Patrick (Sebastian Armesto, pictured below) is too busy to make it, while his crass younger brother Leo, who’s incapable of changing a lightbulb or buying a pint of milk, forgot all about it. It sums up Julia’s melancholy sense that she’s being nudged into the sidings of life. Twisting the knife still further is the fact that her best friend Marsha (Nikki Amuka-Bird) – make that former best friend – is having an affair with her ex-husband Ted (a very supercilious Alex Jennings). Oddly, Marsha thinks they can still be pals.

Gold Digger, BBC OneJulia assuages the disappointment of her birthday disaster with a trip to the British Museum, where she used to work as a conservator, and is flabbergasted to find herself being chatted up by Benjamin (Ben Barnes), aged 30-ish. He seems gentle and charming, though as his surprisingly confident seduction of Julia proceeds we’re obviously being steered to believe that the show is all about him (the clue is in the title). But it’s fatal to jump to conclusions in the first episode. Long story short, she celebrates her birthday with Benjamin in her luxurious hotel suite (which she’s paying for).

Dickens has fun with the scene where Julia introduces Ben to her family, an encounter which leaves Patrick spluttering with impotent rage, petulant Leo demanding “what the actual fuck?”, and only Della offering stout non-judgmental support to her mother. Benjamin, far from being embarrassed or timid, responds to Patrick and Leo with flashes of naked hostility. Benjamin helpfully sums up their (and our) feelings: “You see this young-ish guy and you think ‘what’s his game?’” Meanwhile, what do the murky flashbacks suggesting brutal domestic violence mean, and what is it about Julia’s ex-hubbie that makes even his mother despise him?

We’re obviously being steered to believe that the show is all about Benjamin (the clue is in the title)

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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