Sean Bean and Anna Friel star in new BBC drama

Harrowing social commentary from Jimmy McGovern's Broken

After the BBC’s success at the Bafta TV awards this weekend, it is clear that Auntie’s drama department is on the crest of a wave. Although lauded for years for its costume drama, it is now at the forefront of gritty social realism as demonstrated by prize winners Happy Valley, Damilola Taylor: Our Beloved Boy and Murdered by My Father. This commitment to cutting edge dramatic writing and broadcasting is clear as a new harrowing series is launched next week.

Broken, a six parter starring Anna Friel and Sean Bean, is written by the much vaunted Jimmy McGovern. Billed as a harrowing account of social and religious struggles in current day Northern England, Bean plays catholic priest Father Michael Kerrigan who, while battling with his own inner turmoil, tries to support and counsel the community in which he serves.

Friel plays Christina Fitzsimmons, a mother-of-three who has no means of feeding her children and is pushed to the limit after a recent tragedy. The lives of priest and Mother collide as Christina’s plight becomes increasingly desperate and although Father Michael tries to assist in her personal tragedy, it soon becomes clear that he has his own personal struggles.

Jimmy McGovern has a fierce reputation in the scriptwriting world, with actors clamouring to be in anything with his name on it. Sean Bean explained: “I was very excited at the prospect of working with Jimmy McGovern again. His scripts are raw and real and he creates fantastic and interesting characters that resonate with society today.” 

During these highly politicised times, as all the political parties vie for our vote in the general election, McGovern’s portrayal of the ‘broken’ society in which we live will certainly raise questions for those on the campaign trail as well as potential embarrassment for Theresa May and the government.

McGovern’s characters are always as multi-layered as his plot lines and when appearing on The One Show on Monday, Anna Friel impressed upon Matt Baker that Broken was not easy viewing and included plenty of dramatic twists to keep the audience glued.

With this writer and this cast, it looks as if the BBC has its eyes firmly set on next year’s Bafta TV Awards. In fact, when Bean and Friel took to the Festival Hall at the weekend to present a prize (see above), one could have been forgiven for thinking that this was something of a rehearsal.

Broken airs on May 29 on BBC One at 9pm.

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