The Secret has a less-than-secret reality in that a much better title should have been chosen.
In telling a real-life story, James Nesbitt is dentist Colin Howell, working in Coleraine, County Londonderry in Northern Ireland, circa 1990, in a four-parter that will take events up to 2011. He lets temptation get the better of him and embarks upon an intense affair with Hazel Buchanan (Genevieve O’Reilly) that goes against their Christian religion, and will get them both kicked out of the church, since in the religious world, it becomes a matter of public record and they soon become pillocks of the community.
From the Christian bible club and a singalong to the swimming baths, leading to a private guitar lesson, Nesbitt has a great look of evil about him in this (as well as a dodgy syrup to make him look younger – even though the facial lines can’t lie, but then that would require Looper-style CGI to erase them and there ain’t the budget for that, but that’s a minor issue)
When Colin tells Hazel of their affair, as she starts to get cold feet (geddit?), “This beautiful thing wouldn’t have happened if He hadn’t wanted it to. It’s God’s gift and would be wrong to refuse it”, so he clearly doesn’t care one jot for Christianity, because he’s led by what’s in his pants. That said, the selfishness extended to both parties to the point where they consider solutions upon which their God would definitely frown upon.
Nesbitt shows he’s certainly not resting on his laurels, here, and as the story is only four episodes in length, the pace moves quite briskly, leading to a satisfying ending to the first episode, enticing me in for more. There’s also a welcome performance from Jason Watkins (The Lost Honour of Christopher Jeffries, Psychoville) as the Pastor, and the stage is set for a mini-series that, while not ground-breaking, will certainly be worthy of your time.
The Secret starts this Friday at 9pm, and airs every Friday on ITV at 9pm. The series is available pre-order on DVD, ahead of its release on May 23rd, but if you miss the episode, you can catch it later on the ITV Hub. In fact, it’s already online as one of their advance premieres.
Episode 1 Score: 8/10
Director: Nick Murphy
Producer: Jonathan Curling
Writer: Stuart Urban
Music: Andrew Simon McAllister
Colin Howell: James Nesbitt
Hazel Buchanan: Genevieve O’Reilly
Lesley Howell: Laura Pyper
Kyle Howell: Katherine Kingsley
Katie Jorgensen: Summer Moore
Trevor Buchanan: Glen Wallace
Dave Stewart: Stuart Graham
DS Ferris: Liam McMahon
Paul Ramsey: Michael Colgan
Pastor Hansford: Jason Watkins
Grandpa Harry Clarke: James Greene
Andy Comerford: David Pearse
Hilary McAuley: Ali White
Dental Receptionist: Eileen McCloskey
Matthew Howell: Riley Hamilton
Lauren Howell: Nina Woods
Daniel Howell: Murray Speers
Andrew Buchanan: Jack Erdis
Lisa Buchanan: Sophie Mellotte
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.