Black Work shows that however long you’ve been married, there’s always going to be something that you don’t know about your better half.
SPOILER ALERT: This programme is broadcast on ITV on Sunday night at 9pm, but has been released early on ITV Player to watch now. If you’re waiting until its broadcast date/time to watch it, and don’t want to know anything that happens, look away now.
This drama stars the ubiquitous – and national treasure – Sheridan Smith (The C Word, Inside No.9: The 12 Days of Christine) as PC Jo Gillespie, a woman who feels unappreciated and is playing away with fellow copper DC Jack Clark (Matthew McNulty) because she’s getting nothing at home from her husband, Ryan (Kenny Doughty). She’s feeling guilty and wants to call time on it, instead wanting to reconnect with hubby because she’s feeling rather estranged from him, emotionally and sexually.
When she finds out, soon after the programme begins, that he’s been shot dead, she wants to know who murdered him. He also works for the donut-eaters, only she was led to believe he was working away on something perfunctory… when in fact, like Alex Foley in Beverly Hills Cop II, he’s been going ‘deep, deep, deep, deep undercover’, so deep, in fact, taht not even she knew exactly what the deal was. And it doesn’t help that the top cops don’t want her to even tell her children, in case one of them posts something on Facebook as it might upset the applecart in terms of the investigation Ryan was working on – something which had been going for a whole three years.
However, there are a number of elements to the programme which do feel quite ‘run of the mill’ – things we’ve seen before, like how, due to Ryan’s undercover work, she’s made her feel like she didn’t really know her husband at all, and later, there’s the fact Jo doesn’t get on with Ryan’s ex-wife, plus the dilemma of who elder son Hal (Oliver Woollford) will stay with, since Jo is only the stepmum.
The family machinations aren’t exactly original, but Jo comes to revelations she’d rather not know, and the drama goes down a path that’s not immediately obvious. That said, there are still some clichés as she heads off on her one-woman vigilante hunt to bring down her husband’s killer. Even still, with Sheridan Smith in the lead, this makes for a decent thriller overall which will hold your attention and never makes you feel bored. It also comes from Matt Charman who also wrote the screenplay for the forthcoming Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks Cold War thriller, Bridge Of Spies.
Sherdian Smith is also backed up by a great cast, including Douglas Henshall, Geraldine James and Sharon Duce, who I remember fancying the arse off, as Jan Oliver in Big Deal, opposite Ray Brooks. And if Oliver Woollford’s name sounds familiar, he played the young lad Grant in Utopia, which also featured Geraldine James, although they were rather on opposite sides of a distinct divide in that bizarre but compulsive drama.
On a technical note, there’s also a specific look this drama has whenever it does a close-up on Ms Smith’s face. It’s not quite a full-on close-up but it’s not a long-shot, either. I guess it’s like that to show that her character’s still not feeling quite herself after her terrible ordeal, and so is leaving her a little bit ‘in limbo’ inbetween the two states.
Black Work is broadcast in three parts on Sunday nights from tomorrow at 9pm on ITV, and the first episode can also be seen prior to broadcast on ITV Player, and it would be good if they can put ALL the episodes online in the same way, similar to Peter Kay’s Car Share, since something strange has happened with Sunday nights. There’s generally barely anything worth watching, but this weekend, not only do we have Black Work at 9pm, but also the penultimate episode of Jonathan Strange And Mr Norell, AND the second episode of Humans. At least Channel 4 have a +1 variant in HD.
And as for next weekend? There’s all three of these, PLUS the first two episodes of the new, long-awaited (and much trailered) Anna Friel drama Odyssey – aka American Odyssey in the US, which debuts on BBC2 next Sunday at 9.15pm!
Black Work is available to pre-order on DVD, ahead of its release date on July 6th, and click on the packshot for the full-size image.
Episode 1 Score: 7/10
Director: Michael Samuels
Producer: Tom Mullens
Screenplay: Matt Charman
PC Jo Gillespie: Sheridan Smith
DC Jack Clark: Matthew McNulty
DCS Hepburn: Douglas Henshall
Hal: Oliver Woollford
CC Caroline Jarecki: Geraldine James
DCI Jahan Cooper: Ace Bhatti
Michael Parry: Ben-Ryan Davies
Barbara: Sharon Duce
PC Vicki Stanton: Carla Henry
Carla: Lisa Dillon
Glover: James Foster
Melly: Honor Kneafsey
DC Lee Miekel: Andrew Knott
DC Jared Ansell: Andrew Gower
Tom Piper: Philip Davis
Ryan Gillespie: Kenny Doughty
Moira: Ruth Evans
Jocelyn Hepburn: Tara Moran
Zoe Nash: Vinette Robinson
On Duty Police Officer: Cris Haris
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.