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 Campbellâs words) she was a âcrafty 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 whoâs 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 donât want bad things to happen to her. But this is Accused, after all, so you know that she isnât going to be getting off lightlyâat least not in the series finale.
Itâs 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. Itâs 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 itâs her who gets the biggest beating this week.
Lacking the humour and lighter notes of last weekâs episode, the final instalment of Accused is not an easy watch by any means. Itâll leave you feeling cold and unsettled, although itâs just as thrilling as Stephenâs Story. Much credit has to go to Anna Maxwell Martin for such as uninhibited and moving performance.