Capital Episode 1 – The DVDfever Review


Capital, with Toby Jones in the lead as financial whiz Roger, made me think the title referred to money. It may, since we see property prices increasing as the months go by, but if that’s the case then it’s rather a loose point to hang the title on. Other than that, I would assume it could be because it’s set in London, although that aspect didn’t have too much relevance as everything took place in Pepys Road… which itself begged the question why one single thoroughfare can have a mix of such affluence and poverty.

However, the fact it’s set in one street is a plot device to bring a variety of individuals together, and none of that stops it from being an intriguing drama with a lot of great acting and some fantastic cast members.

Petunia (Gemma Jones, above right) has lived in the street all her life to the point where all her friends have passed away and all her family have moved away, and as we join her, her health is deteriorating; Roger neglects his stunning wife Arabella (Rachael Stirling) and doesn’t have much time for his eldest son, Conrad. He doesn’t even read his son a story – letting a CD, literally, do the talking. (And who calls their son Conrad??); Ahmed (Adeel Akhtar) runs the local corner shop as well as running his family; and Quentina (Wunmi Mosaku) is a traffic warden from Zimbabwe who no has overstayed her asylum application, no longer has leave to remain in the UK, shouldn’t be working anyway, and has her wages paid into a fictious company’s payroll bank account so she stays ‘off the grid’. However, this dodgy business leads to £300 wages equating to just £200 in her hand.

You might not realise just how little you speak to your neighbours, but one thing brings them all together – they all start receiving junk mail through the door labelled: “We want what you have”. Petunia wryly says to shopkeeper Ahmed: “I don’t think anyone wants what *I* have(!)” One resident thought it might be a viral advertising campaign, as the cops investigate when a new set of cards prove more intrusive, one featuring a picture of Ahmed’s wife, taken without her knowledge or consent. By the end of the episode the mystery escalated exponentially, and when young Conrad said he wanted to “paint the road”, Roger and everyone else was baffled by what they saw….


Toby Jones and Rachel Stirling
Pictures: © BBC 2015

Capital didn’t work completely, but the mystery built up nicely and it hasn’t revealed its hand yet, so that will come in parts 2 and 3, which I’m certainly looking forward to. Also, there’s a fair smattering of great dialogue, such as the marital strife between economically-brained Roger and Rachel when she says in the bedroom, “I’m no feminitist, Roger, but ‘electron thrift’ does not constitute foreplay. Ever.” She’s also clearly motivated by money, so, late on, when his expected bonus of £2m ended up being a mere £30,000, she upped sticks and abandoned the family.

This show has a fantastic cast, also including Lesley Sharp and London Spy‘s Zrinka Cvitesic; you’ll remember Gemma and Toby Jones (no relation) were mother and son in Marvellous, while Toby and Rachel are both in one of BBC Four’s best-kept comedy secrets, Detectorists (stick that on BBC2! Why are they wasting time with filler like Live At The Apollo on a weeknight?)

Finally, even after Capital‘s mystery is solved it’d be great to see all them in a drama together again, even if the name remained the same. However, a lot of these 3-part dramas only last three parts because it’s not easy to get all the same people together long-term.

Capital continues next Tuesday on BBC1 at 9pm and you can watch the first episode on BBC iPlayer until December 24th, it’s available to pre-order on DVD ahead of its release on February 22nd 2016, and click on the packshot for the full-size image.

Capital – Series trailer

Episode 1 Score: 8/10

Director: Euros Lyn
Producer: Matt Strevens
Writer: Peter Bowker (based on the novel by John Lanchester)
Music: Dru Masters

Petunia: Gemma Jones
Roger: Toby Jones
Arabella: Rachael Stirling
Mary: Lesley Sharp
Ahmed: Adeel Akhtar
Shahid: Danny Ashok
Rohinka: Mona Goodwin
Fatima: Kaiya Bakrania
Usman: Hamza Jeetooa
Piotr: Krystian Godlewski
Bogdan: Rad Kaim
Quentina: Wunmi Mosaku
Conrad: Arthur Bateman
Mickey; Osi Okerafor
Mark: Andrew Gower
Lothar: Matthew Marsh
Mr Canseca: Joseph Balderrama
Smitty: Robert Emms
Mashinko: Kobna Holdbrook-Smith
Greaves: Noma Dumezweni
DI Mill: Bryan Dick
Iqbal: Tom Reed
Kwame: Andrew French
Mrs Kamal: Shabana Azmi
Matya: Zrinka Cvitesic
Sofa Delivery Man: Daniel Fearn