Seans Bean plays Father Michael Kerrigan, a decent but troubled priest in BBC's Broken
Anna Friel, the former Brookside star was back in Liverpool, now as a harassed single mum.
Like Brookside and its ancestor in Scouse-realist-misery-drama, Boys From The Blackstuff, a kind of stock package of scenes was on offer, from the indifferent job centre to the punch-up in a bookies, the rings pawned and the endless shots of those little streets that run down to the flat, grey Mersey.
The landscape has dozens of wind turbines now, and they, too, feature in many a modern Mersey drama, like engines driving the plot, or whipping up the turmoil.
With Sean Bean as Father Michael Kerrigan, the decent but troubled priest and a story about the everyday clash of morality and poverty, you could say this felt like very familiar turf.
All it needed was a cameo from Yosser ‘Gis a job’ Hughes and a scene on the famous ferry, and you could have written the ending yourself.
Then again, there are cities, all over the country, where people are now in even more desperate situations than those shown in the early, angry Liverpudlian dramas.
There have also been many TV programmes since, whose makers have overlooked the moral and the spiritual angles of storytelling.
Anna Friel plays harassed single mother Christina Fitzsimmons who struggles for cash
If the inside of a church features in a TV show nowadays, it’s either because it’s a cheap way to look meaningful, or because it’s about a deviant priest.
Father Michael is not, although his daily ministering to the parish is hampered by vivid and painful flashbacks. He suffers along with his flock, and that, after all, is the original meaning of the word ‘vicar’.
Bean’s performance last night was brilliant at capturing the double nature of the main character.
When he went back to his native Yorkshire to meet his brothers, he took his dog collaroff. In the local club in Liverpool, he exchanged a gruff nod with single mum Christine (Anna Friel), the attraction obvious if not acted-on.
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Christine kept her mum’s death a secret for the best part of a week, so she could pick up her pension.
Sean's performance as Father Michael last night captured the double nature of the main character
It all unravelled, of course, and who, in the end, was there for her, except Michael, more of a dad than a Father?
You wondered, at the same time, who was there for Michael, or if God was all he needed. It’s true to say, this isn’t new, this isn’t reinventing the format but why should the format be in need of it? Some kinds of truth never change.
Oh, for the days when all we had to argue about was whether the latest flash in the pan deserved to win the Turner Prize.
Ceramicist Grayson Perry, (no flash in the pan himself) won it in 2003 by combining beautiful engraved vases with uncomfortable themes like neglect, abuse and war.
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He was taking on some more in Grayson Perry: Divided Britain (C4) which saw him creating a pair of urns, focussed on the opposing sides of the Brexit debate.
Gathering up the thoughts, images and feelings of Leavers and Remainers alike, he proved to be a fair-handed interviewer, aiming at the heart of what people really felt, rather than sneering or assuming or pushing his own agenda.
If he had one, it was to find what united people once the bitter clamour of the referendum was switched off. Enough to fill two huge vases, and then some.