Words by Naomi Jeffreys
‘Is this the life you could have hoped for?’ In the opening and closing scenes of this brilliantly executed mini drama series, the characters and the audience are asked a question. It is astounding, that one event can change ones life so drastically and so quickly. And this one event, screened over four nights, and told through four different character’s eyes signifies the frailty of life.
In this, the fourth and final episode of the mini series. We’re seeing the day through Alfie’s eyes. On his 13th Birthday, he wanted to have the best day of his life, to really live on his birthday, to muck around with mates, bunk school and to not have a care in the world. But, modern day society doesn’t always work like that, and peer pressure, the protection which gangs can offer you and the lack of parental guidance pushes this episodes protagonist to the edge.
Billy Matthews is astoundingly good for such a young actor. We are able to see a boy on the edge, aching to be a child yet forced to be an adult. With the lack of parents, (or a parent who cares), he is forced to look after his three younger siblings. The character simply can’t do everything, with lack of funds he resorts to stealing (calpol for his youngest sister). Alfie is the kind of character who the audience feels sorry for, we empathise with him and in a way, we can understand why he would want to be part of a gang. They offer him protection, for himself and for his family. It’s drastic and so very very heartbreaking to watch a young boy in such a horrible predicament.
Anyway, the episode was compelling, heartbreaking, brilliantly executed (the cinematography on this show should be comended) I raked my brains to try to think of how they pulled this off! The actors were excellent and the themes so very very real.
Now, Smith just couldn’t leave us hanging. After Alife’s confession, the title song was played, and a montage of all four characters (and their loved ones) were displayed to the audience. Rochelle’s boyfriend was ok, he lived. Carol began pursuing her comedy career and Ned’s wife was left alone.
I shed a tear at the end of this programme. Why? Well, perhaps because the themes were so hard hitting in this one, the themes of violence were intensified and you felt the weight of the world on this thirteen year old boys shoulders.
If you missed the series. I recommened you BBC iPlayer it. Brilliant, just so brilliant.