Accused Review: Tina’s Story

ACCUSED: Tuesday 4th September, BBC1, 9pm

In episode three of Accused we met Stephen, a grieving seventeen-year-old consumed by the imaginary voice of Alistair Campbell. Stephen was being urged to kill his stepmother because (in Campbell’s words) she was a “crafty cowâ€?.

This week, like Tony Blair never did, Stephen is paying for his actions. But while the story is continuation from the previous episode, this time the focus is on Tina (Anna Maxwell Martin), a prison officer and mother who’s altogether more likable and endearing than Stephen.

Part of the fun of episode three was that it was difficult to root for Stephen. On the one hand, he was just a teenager looking out for his dad and his brother. On the other, he brutally stabbed a woman in the stomach because he was haunted by the voice of Alistair Campbell.

Tina, however, is easy to back (perhaps even a little too easy). You like her and you want her to succeed. You certainly don’t want bad things to happen to her. But this is Accused, after all, so you know that she isn’t going to be getting off lightly—at least not in the series finale.

It’s her kind and considerate qualities that make her sympathise with Stephen almost immediately. And when he begins to mention that a certain Labour spin-doctor has been telling him to do abhorrent things, she rightly raises her concerns with her colleague, Frank, who agrees to keep an eye on the teen.

However, due to the absolute chaos that is the prison block that they both work on, Frank forgets to check on the teenager, which gives Stephen an opportunity to hang himself with his bed sheets.

To avoid trouble, Frank is willing to lie to save his own skin, but Tina, fearing lying under oath in court will get her in more trouble, wants to come clean about the incident.

What ensues is surprisingly disturbing, particularly during a scene where an inmate forces himself upon Tina. It’s also, unfortunately, a sad and frustrating conclusion for our protagonist. There are some possible swipes at the prison system from writers Jimmy McGovern and Isabelle Grey, but ultimately it’s her who gets the biggest beating this week.

Lacking the humour and lighter notes of last week’s episode, the final instalment of Accused is not an easy watch by any means. It’ll leave you feeling cold and unsettled, although it’s just as thrilling as Stephen’s Story. Much credit has to go to Anna Maxwell Martin for such as uninhibited and moving performance.