The week on TV: Anne; Four lives; Mandy; toast of Tinseltown | Drama

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Anne (ITV) | ITV Center
Four lives (BBC One) | iPlayer
Mandy (BBC Two) | iPlayer
Tinseltown Toast (BBC Two) | iPlayer

Anne, ITV’s four-part drama directed by Bruce Goodison (Let Stay), is a reminder we may all know about Hillsborough – the 1989 FA Cup semi-final disaster at Sheffield Stadium that killed 97 Liverpool fans – but we didn’t experience it, then we relived it, viscerally, relentlessly, as the bereaved did.

Written by novelist and screenwriter Kevin Sampson, who was at the game, it stars Maxine Peake as Anne Williams, mother of 15-year-old Hillsborough victim Kevin Williams, detailing her long and torturous fight, with others, to extract the truth. a swirling miasma of disinformation, police errors, cover-ups and lies.

It’s Peake’s job to sum up a mother’s waking nightmare, and her performance is all kinds of wild, shuddering screams. Anne is an ordinary Liverpool mom, having fun with her husband, Steve (Stephen Walters), until, fatally, she surprises Kevin (Campbell Wallace) with a ticket to the game. After Hillsborough, it’s a maternal triple threat – enraged, interrogative, tenacious (“You’re not going away, are you?” “Only in a box”) in search of the truth. At what time did her son die? Could he have been saved? What were Hillsborough’s deaths if not unlawful homicides?

As Anne unravels, the city of Liverpool – heartbroken, relentless – becomes a character in its own right. Anne is also the story of a failed smear campaign against the working classes, with poorly portrayed fans, the most famous in the Sun, like drunken, marauding hooligans urinating on the dead.

Sometimes the drama seems unwieldy; he would have benefited from a more ruthless editing. While it’s important to convey the long campaign for justice – Anne Williams died of cancer in 2013 and even now no one has been held directly responsible for Hillsborough – parts of it seemed repetitive or unnecessary. Still, there is no discussion with the spirit of the play. In a first scene in Sheffield, Anne and Steve are led down dark hallways to a room where there’s a pinboard billboard with Polaroid photos of the dead, and, hysterically, begging Anne refuses to accept Kevin to be one of them. It’s almost too painful to watch.

In a gruesome television programming crash, there has been yet another prime-time factual drama about grieving families caught in a very different fight for justice. BBC One Four lives, written by Neil McKay, directed by David Blair, covered the case of Stephen Port, who in 2016 was sentenced to life imprisonment with a life sentence for drugging, raping and murdering four young men he prompted to meet him through LGBTQ dating and relationships. applications.

Here’s a tragic three-part story of police incompetence, tinged with palpable lifestyle judgment and nuances of homophobia. Anthony Walgate (Tim Preston), a life-loving fashion student who occasionally did escort work, is found slumped lifeless in the doorway of the Port apartment building, Port himself calling the police . When Port recounts a drug overdose in the evening, he is believed, which allows him to also kill Gabriel Kovari (Jakub Svec), a hopeful Slovak; Daniel Whitworth (Leo Flanagan), who has a boyfriend; and Jack Taylor (Paddy Rowan), who hides his sexuality from his family.

Sheridan Smith, who plays Anthony’s mother, excels in these raw and direct roles, spasmodic with a chain-smoking fury. Stephen Merchant strays heavily from comedy to portray seedy monosyllabic Port, whose clumsy manipulations – at one point forging a suicide note from Daniel including an ‘confession’ that Daniel killed Gabriel – borders on farce, though the bodies continue to appear in the same locality.

Sheridan Smith, center, as Sarah Sak, the mother of Anthony Walgate, murdered by Stephen Port, in Four Lives. Photograph: BBC / ITV Studios / Matt Burlem

In fgeneral, Four lives was well done: the actors playing the victims had little time to establish their character and are doing a great job. I wasn’t so sure about Merchant, who downplayed Port to the point of appearing less like a warped human and more like a void, though maybe that’s the point.

Happy to see you again Mandy in the second six-part BBC Two shorts series created by and starring Diane Morgan (Philomena Cunk; Mother land), about the titular gobby, the hardworking northerner with towering hair, a bizarre incline walk (imagine a flamingo that’s seasick) and a crooked pout.

Expect the unexpected with Mandy. The first episode opens with her explaining why she quit her job at a frozen fish factory – “One of the other women who worked there looked like Rose West. Gave me the right chills “- and connects in a satanic ritual. Elsewhere, scenarios include, among others, Mandy exploring genealogy with Deborah Meaden, space travel and a sewage plant-based plot with Tom Courtenay and Alexei Sayle (“It stinks, right?”), Which evolves into a Chernobyl– parody style.

Diane Morgan as Mandy.
‘Whip-smart silliness’ with Diane Morgan as Mandy. Photograph: Richard Harrison / BBC

It is not surprising that Mandy attracts such a high caliber of co-stars (others include Anna Maxwell Martin and Jo Hartley): he’s stuffed with ingenuity and clever silliness. Morgan had a colossal task heading up the first series, in which Mandy found herself in a wedding shootout involving Shaun Ryder of the Happy Mondays. This series is even better.

The past week also saw the return of cult comedy character Steven Toast, formerly of London Toast (Channel 4), now back in part six Tinseltown Toast on BBC Two. Played by Matt Berry (What we do in the shadows), and co-written with Arthur Mathews (Father Ted), Toast is the hammy comedian with the bizarre speaking (“Telay-viz-ion”) who deals with silly hipsters in a voiceover studio (“Yes, I can hear you, Clem Fandango”), a feud in progress with “Ray Bloody Achat” (Harry Peacock) and tangy exchanges with his perma-scandalized agent (Doon Mackichan): “It’s a little strong, no, Jane? Your tongue has really become more and more fruity.

Matt Berry as Steven Toast in Toast of Tinseltown
Matt Berry as Steven Toast in Tinseltown’s “Intrinsically British” Toast. Photography: Ben Meadows / BBC / Objective Fiction

Toast was last seen burning Shakespeare’s Globe to avoid bad reviews. This opener presents him in an arty hangout parodying the Colonial, and dealing / not dealing with his anger issues. Next week he’s heading to Hollywood for a “Star wars move-ay ”, dealing with new American agent Brooke Hooberman, also played by Mackichan. While other co-stars cannot be revealed, Larry David’s appearance in the first episode hints that Toast is being well received by America’s comedy elite. However, rrr, as the man himself might say, I saw the second episode of Tinseltown and I’m a little worried: Toast is an inherently British concept; I hope he will travel well.

What else am I looking at

Pfr 15
(Sky comedy)
I’m in the final episodes of the second and final series of the American comedy Interrupted By The Pandemic, with creators Anna Konkle and Maya Erskine playing their 13-year-old selves. It’s witty, touching and inventive – even if things get dark when one of the girls is sexually exploited.

Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle in Pen 15.
Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle in Pen 15. Photography: Hulu

Andy Warhol’s America
(BBC Two)
A three-part docu-series about Warhol and how his life and art intersected with 20th century America. Last week’s opening episode explores its genesis, from Pittsburgh’s impoverished childhood to cans of Campbell’s Soup, to fame and beyond.

Boba Fett’s book
(Disney +)
Disney’s last STar wars-The spinoff series follows bounty hunter Boba Fett’s intergalactic warlord, played by Temuera Morrison, and is also a spin-off of their Mandalorian series. Created by Jon Favreau (Swingers), think of the fantastic western set in deep space.

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