01 November 2023, The Tablet

Compassion behind bars


Compassion behind bars

BBC one

Jimmy McGovern is like no one else writing for British television today. Lots of writers tackle poverty, desperation and struggle, but he adds to that a commitment to change and redemption. He loves his characters, really loves them, in a way that illuminates the darkness engulfing them. He loves his ordinary people caught up in hopeless webs and he also loves his bullies, thugs and perpetrators who are in their own ways also trapped. It’s not surprising, then, that he is drawn to complicated themes which reflect the Catholicism in which he was brought up. His characters can be sometimes a little simplistic but he is never preachy, and at their best his dramas have a compelling moral knottiness.


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