Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Catch Up TV... Missed the TV Moment Everyone's Talking about? Alastair McKay Finds Dreamy Nostalgia in My Mother and Other Strangers and Urban Grit in NW

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Catch Up TV... Missed the TV Moment Everyone's Talking about? Alastair McKay Finds Dreamy Nostalgia in My Mother and Other Strangers and Urban Grit in NW

Article excerpt

Byline: Alastair McKay

ROUGHLY speaking, Sunday night dramas fall into two categories: either The Onedin Line or Dr Finlay's Casebook. Poldark was The Onedin Line: it had romance and derring do, and hid its Mills & Boon proclivities beneath a tricorn hat. My Mother and Other Strangers (BBC iPlayer) is Dr Finlay, in that it finds universal wrinkles in the tempting fallacy than things were better back then because they were simpler.

It is a handsome, agreeable drama. The action starts with kids in gas masks playing on a beach and a woman on a messenger bicycle. It is 1943, and American bombers are rumbling overhead. The setting is Northern Ireland. It is beautiful and unspoilt, unlike the drama's gnarly Northern Irelanders, who are simple and sceptical of outsiders.

The outsiders are the handsome American airmen, who have impeccable manners, leather jackets and pockets full of Lucky Strikes. "Do you like to dance?" says one."Jitterbug?" This is during the time of tobacco rationing, when a rural wretch has to make do with a ration of baccy, lard and Spam unless the grim (secretly decent) landlord delves into his black-market stash of corned beef.

There is a speech, buried somewhere in the tweed landscape of the first episode, about the impossibility of resisting change (because the war and the rest of the world will keep on coming, no matter how hard you try to live a life of pure, hand-knitted potato picking). The agents of change are the Americans, whose appeal to two generations of the local woman is obvious.

There is handsome Captain Dreyfuss (Aaron Staton), the liaison officer who has a thing for the grim landlord's bicycling wife, Rose, who is English and educated unlike the locals, who are in favour of local pitchforks for local people.

"Liaison, yes," says English Rose, blushing in her pinafore. …

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