Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Catch Up TV... Missed the TV Moment Everyone's Talking about? Alastair McKay Welcomes Back Sarah Lancashire in Kiri, and Salutes Agyness Deyn in Cop Show Hard Sun

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Catch Up TV... Missed the TV Moment Everyone's Talking about? Alastair McKay Welcomes Back Sarah Lancashire in Kiri, and Salutes Agyness Deyn in Cop Show Hard Sun

Article excerpt

Byline: Alastair McKay

JACK Thorne likes to interrogate tabloid morality. In National Treasure he employed a national treasure (Robbie "Hagrid" Coltrane) to portray a beloved entertainer facing the ruin of his reputation in a case inspired by Operation Yewtree. Thorne's new drama, Kiri (All 4), starring the reigning champion of intelligent popular drama, Sarah Lancashire, also occupies contentious territory. Lancashire plays Miriam, an easy-go-lucky, ostensibly lovely, bohemian social worker who finds herself at the centre of a scandal when Kiri, a young girl in her care, is murdered.

After one episode, the Bristol-based drama is delicately poised, an achievement in itself given that social workers are usually the villains in tabloid morality tales. Partly this is down to the script. Miriam is sketched as a caring, flawed woman with a flatulent dog and a hip flask. Her son died at the age of 13, from cancer. Possibly that's where the hip flask came in. On paper those quirks don't amount to much, but in Lancashire's hands, Miriam who may yet be the villain of the piece has obvious strengths and forgivable flaws.

There is a "but". The ambivalence comes not from the fact that she turns up unannounced at the flat of a junkie client and vomits on the floor (that, too, is understandable). It exists in the question of whether Miriam was too liberal and understanding in her decision-making. An odd charge, except that Thorne's drama makes this a question of race.

The doomed nine-year-old girl is black, and on the verge of being adopted by a middle-class white family. The girl's grandparents look benign but Miriam's mistake is in trusting that the girl's "chaotic" father is not on the scene. In this tabloid Cluedo, the suggestion is that Miriam did it, in the woods, using political correctness. …

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