Review: Unforgotten (S1 E3/6), Thursday 23rd October, ITV

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Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 12.41.40The four prime suspects have been winkled out by the increasingly wiley DCI Cassie Stuart (Nicola Walker) and despite the fact that they all now seem to be model citizens (well, apart from Trevor Eve’s business tsar, Sir Phillip – we can’t believe that he’s up to any good), their stress levels are building.

As they all knew Jimmy 39 years ago, his re-emergence from his grave under a  derelict building in Willesden is bound to give rise to the jitters, and it’s making their current relationships problematical.
And that constant pressure of conscience is the fundamental point  of Chris Lang’s screenplay; as Cassie asks colleague Sunil (Sanjeev Bhaskar), ‘How do you think a person lives a life having murdered someone, without it showing?’
It is probably harder for some to come to terms with it than others – particularly for redeemed racist Lizzie Wilton (a stunning performance from Ruth Sheen) to confess to her black husband Ray (Brian Bovell) that she has rewritten history, by scrubbing out the two years after she first arrived in London when she was fomenting race hatred with a vicious skinhead boyfriend, who made her do things that she pleads ‘were not really who she was’.
She begs him to believe that she knew nothing of Jimmy’s fate, but a victim of race violence testifies that she was as bad as her boyfriend. Does this mean that her redemption through helping young Curtis (Ade Oyefeso) is doomed to failure? She is so preoccupied with her past that she neglects his exams, and he is horrified when he overhears her confession to Ray.
Father Bob (Bernard Hill) is coincidentally renouncing the devil and repenting of his sins, as Cassie and Sunny arrive at the church during a baptism service he’s conducting. Not sure we’d want him bouncing our kid about at the font – but then again the church has been the welcome redoubt of many a sinner over the centuries.
He claims a slight connection with Jimmy because of a common love of football, but denies knowing anyone called Jo Jo. Big lie – we know he’s at least in phone contact with someone of that name, and our canny cops catch on. Sunny says as they leave the church: “As Aisha [his daughter] would say ‘Oh he SO knows Jo Jo.'”
Sir Philip Cross has a strained relationship with his daughter Bella (Zoe Telford) at the best of times, but as he is a former East End thug turned political party donor, we wouldn’t expect any bleeding-heart confession from him. He consults her because she’s a lawyer, and he wants to know just how vulnerable he is to the police investigation of a historic crime.
He too denies knowing what happened to poor Jimmy, except for saying that both he and Jimmy did errands for the local crime family.  Bella, having come from dirty new money, but washed clean by an Oxbridge education, is unmoved by Sir Phillip’s tale of  family poverty, which he makes sound like the old Monty Python Four Yorkshiremen sketch about ‘living in shoeboxes in t’middle of t’road’. She probably wants to run as far away from shady Dad’s roots as possible.
Gangland family the Fenwicks are no longer on the scene, but Cassie finds an associate, Tommy Pinion (rent-a-cockney hardman Alan Ford), who, in more shades of Python tells her about people who got their fingers chopped off, heads nailed to coffee-tables, unrestricted use of sarcasm, and the like.
Certainly he remembers Jimmy, and the fact that he owed the Fenwicks money.  He also gets the idea that there may be money to be made from selling the story, and it looks like Cross’s reputation will be ruined when the papers hear details of his shady past. As his company stocks plummet, Cross gets a call from old mucker Gordon Fenwick.
Wheelchair-bound Eric Slater (Tom Courtenay) is the next to be questioned, and astonishingly, he reveals that not only does he remember Jimmy, but that he also met the mysterious Jo-Jo, when he caught her in a storage room having sex with Father Bob.
Guilt is eating away at Father Bob, and he collapses at a family do.
He confesses to an affair with Jo-Jo, but says that the relationship, though genuine, was short-lived, and that he hasn’t spoken to her since; so he’s still lying.
Cassie and her Dad (Peter Egan) confront the fact that letters show her deceased mother had been having an affair; he can’t take the deception, she tries to console him with the thought that they had ended up together. But again, it’s a case of someone not turning out to be who they appeared to be.
Cassie takes Jimmy’s mother to the basement where his skeleton was found, and it’s cathartic for her, but examination of photos of the house raises the question of how wheelchair-bound Eric got around. He wasn’t a bloody Dalek, quips Cassie – possibly the first TV reference to what all informed people know, that Daleks in fact can climb stairs, or levitate up them anyway.
Eric in fact was not in a wheelchair during his time in Arlingham House – well, we never assumed he was, so why had the cops? Anyway, this puts him on the spot of Jimmy’s murder, though it doesn’t suggest a motive – but who’s given his confused wife a black eye?
All this raises the philosophical question of  – short of committing murder – whether any of us are in reality the version of ourselves that we present to other people.
At the halfway point we’re still putting our money on everyone having had a part to play in the death of Jimmy – yet the crucial testimony of Jo-Jo is still being tantalisingly held back. Will she prove to be the key witness, or just another co-conspirator?
Deborah  Shrewsbury

 

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