Jimmy McGovern’s The Street returns next week for its third series, after the first two walked away with the BAFTA and RTS awards for best drama, as well as a sackful of International Emmys. After seeing a preview of episode one, I think this run is going to get just as much acclaim.
The first episode stars Bob Hoskins as Paddy, a landlord who runs the down-at-heel Greyhound pub with his wife (Frances Barber). When he bars the son of local gangster Tom Miller (Liam Cunningham) for smoking in the toilets, he sets in motion a confrontation between the two men that neither can back down from.
After Miller says he'll batter Paddy if he doesn't serve his son the following day, the drama becomes reminiscent of High Noon, as the landlord desperately scours the community for support against the bad guy. However, the influence of the quietly menacing Miller – who sponsors the pub football team – runs deep.
As you'd expect, Hoskins is utterly compelling as a flawed family man and former alcoholic who realises that sticking to his principles may carry a terrible price. The tension becomes almost unbearable as the time runs down to their face-off - a classic example of using (literally, in this case) a 'ticking clock' to create tension in your story.
Another noteworthy point for screenwriters is that McGovern famously mentors new and emerging writers through The Street; only the first and last of the six eps are all his own work. So, it’s a great showcase for new talent (even if some of our admiration is tinged with a bit of professional jealousy).
The return of The Street isn’t getting the same fanfare that The Wire enjoyed, but based on the first episode, and with Anna Friel, Stephen Graham, Daniel Mays, Maxine Peake and Timothy Spall lined up to star in future eps, the series is likely to provide engrossing domestic-level drama that it’s impossible not to get drawn into.
BBC press pack: includes focus on McGovern’s role in the series
Interview with Jimmy McGovern in The Independent (2006)
Video: Jimmy McGovern and two S2 writers in conversation at BAFTA
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