From fledgling writers Daniel Fajemisin-Duncan and Marlon Smith comes Run: a gritty new drama series which over four nights this week will present as many seemingly unrelated stories, cleverly interwoven with each other and featuring a raft of treasured and emerging acting talent.
In tonight’s opening episode we saw Olivia Colman as Carol – a single mother who only just gets by on the money from her dead-end job (and a bit of theft besides) and continually strives to keep her family united and out of trouble. However, those attempts soon prove fruitless when her sons commit an act of random violence against a stranger, leaving her with the tough decision of whether to stand by them or turn them in to the police.
Channel 4 has excelled itself recently with a host of excellent shows encompassing many genres: dramas like Dates, hidden-camera shows such as Eye Spy and documentaries, including How to Find Love Online and Daisy Donovan’s fantastic The Greatest Shows on Earth. Run can now be added to this quartet of brilliance.
Everything about it was superbly gripping, featuring characters which we got to know instantly – whether they were sympathetic like Carol or downright despicable like her ex, Kieran (Neil Maskell). Smith and Fajemisin-Duncan also paced their script very well: it didn’t crawl along and feel laboriously dragged out, nor did it race through. Carol’s story was told at a speed which mirrored her hectic life but also gave the audience a chance to get to know her and the people and places surrounding her. Within minutes we could tell that Carol was a single mother, living on the breadline and desperately trying to keep her family united and safe against the gritty backdrop of a council estate.
The interweaving of each story became apparent even at this early stage as this episode also introduced an intriguing plot involving a destitute Chinese girl, about whom we will find out more in tomorrow night’s episode.
‘COMPELLING AND TRAGIC’
All of the cast were excellent tonight but the real star of the show was of course Olivia Colman who, since being catapulted into the nation’s hearts after her portrayal of DS Ellie Miller in Broadchurch, can do very little wrong. Her performance as Carol, a working class mum of two, in Run was a huge departure from the roles for which she is best known – not only in Broadchurch but Peep Show and Rev. – and therefore proved what a fantastically talented and versatile actress she is.
Throughout the episode I really felt for Carol and her situation – being stuck in such a harsh, unforgiving environment with her attempts at creating happiness and normality being quashed by those around her. The writers’ writing, Charles Martin’s direction and Olivia Colman’s acting meant that Carol’s journey, from the discovery of her sons’ crime to the final, beautifully shot scene, was compelling and tragic in equal measure.
What with her BAFTA-winning turns in sitcoms (Twenty Twelve) and dramas (Accused), surely it is only a matter of time until Olivia Colman is given National Treasure status?
Run was nothing short of brilliant. Everyone involved contributed to creating an enjoyable, engrossing and sadly all too believable story, of which I am sure we will see a lot more as the series continues.
Run is on all this week at 10:00pm on Channel 4
What did you think of Run? Do you agree or disagree with my review? Please comment below or tweet me – @UKTVReviewer.
You can also see my recommendations for the coming week’s TV on this blog, published every Saturday at midnight.