Thursday 22 June 2017

The TV guide... Going straight

ITV's new drama The Trials of Jimmy Rose reunites Ray Winstone and Amanda Redman in the story of a criminal's reinvention

Ray Winstone and Amanda Redman are reunited in The Trials of Jimmy Rose
Ray Winstone and Amanda Redman are reunited in The Trials of Jimmy Rose

Emily Hourican

He's been a successful criminal, can he now be a successful husband, father and grandfather? This is the dilemma that faces notorious criminal Jimmy Rose as he leaves prison after his latest stint.

The stints have been many, with a kind of cumulative effect on his family who have grown, and grown up, largely without him. They may enjoy the material trappings of his talent for armed robbery - a fine house on a private estate, filled with desirable things - but they are less sure how ready they are to enjoy his re-entry into their lives. For this, they blame him.

This is the premise of ITV's latest drama, a three-part series, The Trials of Jimmy Rose, written by Alan Whiting and directed by Adrian Shergold, the man behind Dirty Filthy Love and Lucan. Ray Winstone plays Jimmy Rose, with Amanda Redman as his wife Jackie, the love of his life who isn't sure if she still loves him back. The mother of two children who are entirely at odds with their father's world.

This is familiar territory for Winstone (above left) - the hard man with a good heart - and the kind of part he has made his own, most often for the big screen. Bringing it, and him, to TV, is a good move on ITV's part. It is familiar also for Redman (above right), who played Winstone's wife in 2009's Sexy Beast. In fact, it is a character Winstone clearly inhabits with ease, describing the similarities between himself and Rose: "We're both old-fashioned scallywags and we both have opinions about how the world has changed . . . it's a story about family and what happens when the father figure gets sent down. To me, Jimmy isn't just the usual villain either. If you don't feel some sympathy for him, I haven't done my job."

As for working with Amanda again, that had its own complications, described with typical directness by Winstone: "It was lovely working with her," he says, "but awkward having to snog her. She's a mate, so is her husband, and I'd much rather snog an actress that I didn't know. But I did manage to get lost in Mandy's incredible blue eyes. It wasn't exactly a hardship."

Armed robbery convictions aside, Jimmy is a likeable man, confronted with the kind of domestic problems that are easy to identify with, because they are generational, circumstantial, and very human. Having made sacrifices to educate his kids well beyond anything he himself knew, they are now ashamed of him and don't understand him. Grown-up and with kids of their own, they have built lives without him, particularly son Joe, who wants nothing more to do with the man who he feels let him down. In the prison years, during which Rose had nothing much to do except anticipate the time he would spend with them again, they were busy coping without him, filling in the gaps around the place he should have been, so that now there is no space left for him. Rose meanwhile, is old-fashioned in a world that has moved fast and left him behind. His code of ethics is laughably outdated. He is too old for what he knows, and without any obvious alternatives.

This autumn, Downton Abbey will be back for the sixth, and very last time. In the bid to replace it - both the effect and the viewing figures - ITV has tried hard to create dynamic new dramas. The recent Black Work was a brave effort, but didn't quite do the trick, while the announcement that Keeley Hawes will star in a new series based on the life of Gerald Durrell, of My Family And Other Animals fame and brother of novelist Lawrence, is an intriguing move, one that looks as if it has all the right kind of credentials. But that isn't due out for a year. Meantime, The Trials of Jimmy Rose should keep the fires burning.

The Trials of Jimmy Rose starts on UTV Ireland and UTV next Sunday at 9pm

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