Time is what Sean Bean, as Mark Cobden, is about to do, given that he’s on the way to prison for the first time, in a van amongst a bunch of shouty ne’er-do-wells.
I won’t say what he’s done, since not even the trailer tells us that, but he’s been given a sentence of four years which is quite a lot for a first offence, but what is it? Either way, given his rather nervous demeanour, how will he cope with everything he encounters, like the anger, the violence and the harsh Scouse accents?
Looking very nervous on his entry, even when he’s taken to his “first night cell“, a prison guard tells him “I knew Bob Warren. He was a good man”. But still, exactly what has happened? Again, I’m not saying because this drama doesn’t instantly tell you everything, either. It drip feeds the background to Mark’s backstory as the three-part drama goes on.
You feel his frustration as one prisoner steals items from his cell and other aspects – just plain rudeness from a scrote, but then how best to handle yourself in prison?
And it’s not just a case of entering a cell and ‘getting on with it’ because there’s far too many other things going on, such as meeting his cellmate, Bernard (Aneurin Barnard), who’s clearly a sandwich short of a picnic… Several, in fact; witnessing violent attacks on other prisoners, and trying to cope with the shame of it all when his parents (played by Sue Johnston and David Calder) come to visit.
Oh, and if you’re not aware of Sean Bean’s appearance in the 2018 videogame Hitman 2 – as elusive target Mark Faba, watch the video below.
Stephen Graham (most recently seen in Greyhound) takes second lead as Eric McNally, Mark’s personal officer who he can come to if he has any problems, but he’s got prison-related issues of his own. Plus, if Mark did go to him with a complaint, that could be seen to make him a grass, and those are not welcome inside.
Other cast members include Siobhan Finneran (Apostasy) as prison chaplain Marie-Louise, and Brian McCardie – aka Line of Duty‘s Tommy Hunter – as hardened criminal Jackson Jones, but has he reformed his ways since his encounters with AC12? (Okay, it’s a drama, not real life…)
Time does for prisons what Threads did for nuclear bombs – they’re a very dark watch, but an incredibly rewarding one. But then, what else would you expect from Jimmy McGovern when he’s on top form?
Both Sean Bean and Stephen Graham are acting powerhouses and show their mettle, here. I’d still love a second series of McGovern’s 2017 drama Broken, though.
As an aside, Mark gives his date of birth as April 17th 1964. Sean Bean’s actual date of birth is April 17th 1959, so his latest character is exactly five years younger.
Time begins on BBC1 tonight at 9pm, but is not yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD.
After episode one is broadcast, the whole series will be on the BBC iPlayer.
Series Score: 10/10
Director: Lewis Arnold
Producer: Simon Maloney
Writer/Creator: Jimmy McGovern
Composer: Sarah Warne
Mark Cobden: Sean Bean
Eric McNally: Stephen Graham
Pete: Kadiff Kirwan
Bernard: Aneurin Barnard
Marie-Louise: Siobhan Finneran
Jackson Jones: Brian McCardie
Johnno: James Nelson-Joyce
Baz: Bobby Schofield
Stevie: Dean Fagan
Sarfraz Jawad: Shahid Ahmed
P.O. Patterson: Nabil Elouahabi
P.O. Banks: Jason Done
P.O. Jardine: Natalie Gavin
P.O. Galbraith: Cal Macaninch
Alicia Cobden: Nadine Marshall
Tom Cobden: Lee Morris
Sonia McNally: Hannah Walters
Brendan Murphy: Jonathan Harden
Stanley Timmins: Jumayn Hunter
Floyd Walker: Philip Barantini
Anne Warren: Anna Madeley
David McNally: Paddy Rowan
June Cobden: Sue Johnston
John Cobden: David Calder
Emma McAdams: Hopi Grace
Paul McAdams: Kevin Harvey
Daniel: Jack McMullen
Friend of Stevie: Theo Nate
Governor Cameron: Franc Ashman
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.