Sticks and Stones sees Thomas Benson (Ken Nwosu) going to work on a big project, with a great happy team, and feeling full of beans, and nothing can take him down…
Well, until the wifi goes down and he’s unable to complete his presentation, leading to a panic attack where he collapses and they don’t get the deal. But can he rescue it at the 11th hour?
Well, perhaps, the 8th hour, as he arranges a dinner meeting with company head honcho Janice (Phoebe Nicholls), but… he has some very bitchy colleagues, and as we know from the trailer, one or more of them are bullying him.
His chance of business success in such a ruthless workplace is thwarted when the planned meeting with the head of Murray Technology, to make up for the failed presentation, still doesn’t go to plan and it doesn’t happen. In fact, the tension in this drama had a vice-like grip and even though this episode has aleady been broadcast, I won’t spoil it by describing why, because I know a lot of people watch it online later and to go into detail would rob you of its surprises.
Ken Nwosu superb as the employee who’s trying to work out why his colleagues hate him and why they’re trying to take him down in such a systematic manner; and this first episode brilliantly narrows down the problem when he finds his daughter is also getting hassle at school because she’s deaf, and she susses out that people are mean to him at work, as she can clearly work out what a wuss he is and that he really needs to stand up for himself.
Safe to say, that every one of the three colleagues in his team need a punch square in the jaw.
In fact, seeing his final action in the episode, makes me want to watch more where he just punches the hell out of everyone. However, we know from the trailer that at some point, he goes to Carter to confide in him that he’s being bullied.
As an aside, IMDB lists this as “The Man“, aka “You’re the man!“, but that’s such a generic title that I’m glad they changed it.
I will say one minor thing about Thomas’ car, though, and it’s not a spoiler, but I’ll hide it just in case you want to know zip before watching the episode…
UPDATE: Episode 2 saw Thomas looking further afield for new opportunities, but at any time when he was having to talk to those ‘three witches’ (okay, one’s a bloke, but go with it), I was all OH! MY! GOD!!! PLEASE WILL YOU ALL JUST DIE!!!
Then the bar tab, the meeting with Mark Baxter, the talk about his deaf daughter and… the editing… ramping up the tension to the point where I wanted to SCREAM at the screen!
Finally, for this episode, let’s all give a moment of silence for the CGI ant…
UPDATE: Episode 3 addressed the bullying issue, but things really went a different way to how I was expecting. To the point where I was partly watching this through my fingers. I was talking to the screen, telling Thomas what he should and shouldn’t do, but… was he listening? Not always.
However, without giving spoilers (obviously), this finale kept the tension up right until the last moment, and I absolutely loved it.
This is a rarity of a series which got better as it went on, and it’s great that it was just a three-parter with everything nicely rounded up. So often, we get dramas which ramble on for week after week after week, getting nowhere.
And let’s have more of Ken Nwosu because he was absolutely first-rate in this.
However, I will deduct half a point for the fact that (and I wouldn’t call this a spoiler, but just in case you want to know NOTHING…)
Sticks And Stones continues tomorrow and concludes on Wednesday, both nights airing at 9pm. It’s not yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD, but after broadcast, each episode will be on the ITV Hub.
Episode 1 Score: 8.5/10
Episode 2 Score: 9/10
Episode 3 Score: 9.5/10
Director: Julia Ford
Producer: Colin Wratten
Creator/Writer: Mike Bartlett
Music: Jack Halama
Thomas Benson: Ken Nwosu
Jess: Alexandra Roach
Isobel: Susannah Fielding
Carter: Ben Miller
Andy: Sean Sagar
Becky: Ritu Arya
Natalie: Debbie Chazen
Millie: Daisy Boo Brandford
Janice: Phoebe Nicholls
Craig: Jody Halse
Casey: Ophelia Parsons
Steve: Russell Anthony
Marie: Helen Anderson
Lisa: Jordan Baker
Phil: Neil Pearson
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.