Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Rest in Peace Jack Duckworth and Where's Lucas North?

I just watched Jack Duckworth aka Bill Tarmey walk off into the next world with Vera. I used to watch Corrie as religiously as I still do Newcastle United. Bill Tarmey was one of the many reasons I stayed tuned to the programme. Over the years, he and Vera have had some brilliant set toos and equally touching moments. As we loose more and more of the old dears on Corrie, the programme gets less less Corrie like. I found myself impatient for the non Jack bits to end so I could bid a fond farewell to  an old friend.

When it did come, it was a mixture of realism showing how tired and worn out Jack was feeling, blending effortlessly into a dream sequence that as it went on was clearly Vera coming to take him to the next place. It reminded me of the way I could feel the spirit of my own grandfather hanging around my grandmothers house for so many years before he finally moved on. Even now I still know that feeling as until only recently, the spirit of my father's deceased 2nd wife was a constant presence in the house, and this after 10 years. She seems to be happy he's being well taken care of , so she isn't as obvious now, but every so often , you can feel her there from the corner of your eye, observing. And so Vera was there when Jack passed on and joined her for one last dance before they had to go.  I don't know if Coronation Street will ever quite recapture the magic of the days when Fred Elliot, The Duckworths and the rest of them were Weatherfield royalty, but Phil Collison gave Jack Duckworth a send off worthy of the character and the actor who played him. Compared to actress Liz Dawn who's alter ego Vera, passed away quietly in the same chair, Jack's passing was also the passing of an older tradition of less a less conniving, unpleasant Corrie, deeply rooted in stories about the ordinary people and their lives. As the creator had strived so many years before, it was about the boring bits in between. Over the years I saw many passages in my life reflected in the lives of Weatherfield folk, but today, it's mostly high finance, bizarre love triangles and a most improbable lesbian affair. I'm all for inclusion and good story telling, but at least get it right. There is no way Sian is a lesbian and to have play it that way is an insult to our good sense and the reality of what ti means to be a lesbian. I've asked a few and like me, they don't buy it either. In a simpler time, even the gays on Corrie were mostly concerned with getting paid, getting the drinks in and the latest craik at the Rovers. Now days, if somebody isn't going bankrupt  because of highly improbable situations, then somebody else is being manoeuvred into killing against his will. I lived on an old established working and middle class street for over 20 years, NO ONE for three street either way EVER went insane and killed anybody, no one killed in cold blood and no one ever set fire to the commercial buildings on our high street. If you believed the goings on on Corrie, the only place more dangerous would be Midsommer. I despair of ever watching Corrie any time soon again. A pity as it was the only thing recently outside of football that kept me tuning in.

Spooks, In another conclusion of sorts, Lucas North aka Richard Armitage seemed destined to leave Spooks for good by the end of the hour. What happened instead was a bird of a different colour. All series long Ruth and Harry have been playing the game of "why didn't you save the boy" and " would you let me die". All along it seemed clear Harry was always going to choose country over personal attachment, but in the end he allowed Ruth's endangerment to cloud his judgement. Harry ends up paying the highest price possible short of death for the freedom of his beloved Ruth. By allowing state secrets out of safety and ultimately in the hands of a foreign power , he breaks the the most sacred trust he was given by MI5.  Surely his days are numbered at MI5.

And what of Lucas himself? Throughout the finale he displays a near cold fanatical desire to hurt somebody or something by selling  the Albany file to the Chinese. His motivation is never properly explained and we can only hope we find out in the next series. We do know he wants out of the spy game and new life with the lovely Maya. Something I never though for a minute he'd be allowed, but I never expected Maya to be the one gasping like a guppy out of water for breathe as she lay dying. Just when you think the rules are set in stone, Spooks show runners turn the tables on us and let a load of people live, even the now cruelly twisted and evil John Bateman/Lucas North. I held off writing this till today so most of you could watch the ep, because I can now say that Lucas comes out of this as a broken man who is beyond redemption or understanding. Despite every hand reaching out to help, Lucas only becomes crueller and more determined to  jeopardize his former colleagues, and the World, by giving away a secret  that could cause the death of millions of people. Even if he emerges from self imposed exile next year, we won't be inclined to trust him, believe him or like him. The only way he can redeem himself is a spectacular death.

This leaves Thames House in an uproar, Harry Pierce is about to loose his job, there is no section chief and worse of all, with the vultures circling for Harry, what will they do to MI5 itself? The use of Alec White former internal affairs specialist would seem to mitigate most of the damage to the agents involved in last night's action, and would also leave the road clear for Ruth to succeed Harry. Perhaps after all, the only scalp that will be taken is that of Harry Pierce. In the world of Spooks, it takes up the opportunity to craft a next series predicated on a lot more unauthorized skulduggery among rogue or freelance people. We'll see next year.

Best bits had to be the location of Albany, St- Edward's, which  begs the question , what else are they hiding there, and the huge relief I felt when Maya died and they did not let Lucas do the silent scream thing. The entire cast from the Home secretary down to the most humble extra, seemed to really take the story even more seriously than usual. This series from episode one to eight, was superiorly written, acted conceived.  Less of the fake countries and more grit about real issues using the names of real places. The box set for this series is a must have.

A good thing the BBC1 has the excellent Garrow's Law starting on the 22nd of November to keep us busy.

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