Accused

Sean Bean in a dress. That’s what attracted the viewers to the first episode of the new series of Jimmy McGovern’s Accused. I’m one of them. Could he pull it off and be convincing as a cross-dresser? Well, yes, of course he could. Sean Bean is a brilliantly under-rated actor!

So the episodes in Accused are all stand-alone where we see subjects being brought before trial and then flashback stories about what brought them there. Future episodes will have Nathan from Misfits, Sheridan Smith and the comedian John Bishop. I won’t be watching them, despite enjoying this episode. We see Sean Bean first as his alter ego Tracie Tremarco getting a taxi and going out into town in Manchester. It’s immediately obvious to everyone – the taxi driver, people in the street, people in the bar – that Tracie is a man dressed as a woman, but she doesn’t care. After abuse by a group of lads, Tracie returns home -but is helped into a taxi by Tony (Stephen Graham) who then joins Tracie back in her flat.

Tracie has experience in satisfying men’s curiosities. Men who pretend to be straight, usually married, but convince themselves they’re not gay as they’re sleeping with a woman (who they know of course is a man underneath). Tony seems different. He says he is widowed, and he comes round more than once. He wants to go on holiday with her – and encourages her to improve her look so she looks more like a woman. As we flit between Tracie and her alter-ego Simon, a shy English teacher who teaches romantic poetry and ‘The Lady of Shalott’, we see Tracie gaining increasing confidence in herself.

But this is Accused, so we know something terrible is about to happen. Simon sees Tony in the street one day and he doesn’t recognise him as Simon. Simon follows Tony and sees that he has a wife – a make-up artist, who Tracie goes to visit and whom Tony’s wife mentions to Tony. Simon meets up with Tony and they argue – Tony thinks he’s disgusting, but at least Tracie isn’t hiding herself away. Tony returns home and his wife has found his mobile phone and all his calls to a woman called Tracie. Has he been having an affair? Unable to confess to the truth, Tony kills his wife instead. Then he rings Tracie, tells her he’s confessed to the affair to his wife and she’s left him and says that he and Tracie should go on that holiday together. Sean Bean is brilliant at portraying the nuances of Tracies and Simon’s emotions. Tracie goes away with Tony unaware that he has killed his wife and the body is in the car.

The trial, therefore, is accusing Simon of murder – of being an accomplice – to Tony’s wife’s murder. Tony has confessed but refuses to exonerate Simon from involvement. There seems to be a pretty good case against Simon as Tony rings him immediately after the murder, he was in the car with the body and even has his fingerprints on the murder weapon (which Tracie had found and thrown away in fear). But then, in the implausible bit (and the murder itself was quite implausible), the judge allows Tracie to come to court and address the jury. How could I, in my ivory nails and high heels, she tells them, have designed to carry the dead body? She couldn’t and she is found Not Guilty.

Brilliant performances then by Sean Bean and Stephen Graham, though we never see the physical chemistry or any affection between them. Tuesday night also had the first episode of the US series ‘Person of Interest’ with Jim Caviezel and Michael Emerson, written by Jonathan Nolan (brother of Christopher). Caviezel is a former ‘agency’ guy, now recruited by reclusive billionaire Emerson to help prevent crimes before they happen. It’s as complicated as it sounds, but the pilot episode was really good. It’s a bit like Batman – he’s got lots of money and gadgetry behind him, lurks in alley-ways and on top of buildings, no-one knows what he does, he harms bad guys and saves the good guys. Looking forward to the rest of this series on Channel 5.

Tuesday night also had Jack Whitehall’s penned new sitcom ‘Bad Education‘ on BBC Three. It’s set in a school where Jack Whitehall is a young, incompetent history teacher. Somehow, though, he has and keeps this job. Perhaps because the HeadMaster is  equally young and incompetent, played by Mat Horne in a hideous wig (remember when people actually liked him in Gavin and Stacey? What a fall from grace). Anyway, it’s not as good as Teachers, but it’s not as bad as some BBC Three fare. Yes, it’s a bit imbecilic, but there were a few laughs, especially towards the end, and there might be potential in the misfit gang of schoolchildren that Whitehall’s character, Alfie, teaches.

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