We've been rather spoilt for excellent terrestrial TV of late, what with the superior Jane Eyre adaptation, the fantastic Prime Suspect: last orders at the bar please*, not to mention the continuing brilliance of Extras and Curb. But last night's Channel 4 recreation of Lord Longford's much-derided relationship with and campaign on behalf of moors murderer Myra Hindley possibly topped even that impressive list.
It's rare enough to see prime-time TV that raises questions worth answering - namely, in a nominally Christian society, what are the limits forgiveness? Are some acts beyond redemption? and so on - let alone being able to do so with as light a touch and without ever appearing to be didactic or moralising. The performances of Jim Broadbent - an uncanny doppelgager for ("Fur-wank") Longford - and Samantha Morton - compelling and just subtly ambiguous enough as Hindley to garner sufficient sympathy for the drama to work. Andy Serkis was equally convincing as a more diabolically portrayed Ian Brady.
The film may well have attracted a lot of more opprobrium (see March BBC item linked at the title) by refusing to completely demonise Hindley in the tabloid fashion we're familiar with. Instead, it sought to view her as Longford, a devout Christian committed to the redemptive possibilities of his faith had, and this brave move worked. Indeed, Graham Greene came to mind as Longford's obdurate belief that human justice, inconsequential as it is sat next to that of divine origin, was not sufficiently equipped to judge
*Please, please, please ITV - give us Prime Suspect: oh alright, just one more for the road.....
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