One Night Episode One Review: Two Far

ONE NIGHT: Monday 26th March, BBC1, 10.35pm

The butterfly effect theory – that one minor incident can cause a metaphorical hurricane – is a rather hackneyed one if not used subtly enough. Despite some high-quality performances, this is One Night’s main flaw, as the dropped packet of crisps by school girl Rochelle that results in a shocking murder is very much a laboured device.

Menacing music plays as the crisp packet drifts slowly and poignantly to the ground, and its significance is hammered home at the end: “it was all my faultâ€?, Rochelle muses in a floaty soliloquy that goes through all the “what ifsâ€? of her walk home from school.

The story links the lives of estate kids with that of uptight kitchen salesman Ted, who lives on a pretty residential street near the sprawling dramatic backdrop of the Lakemead Estate. Douglas Hodge gives a compelling performance as the tightly coiled Ted, profusely sweating and stressing over hosting his boss at a barbecue.

But unfortunately Ted is the kind of man who sees hostility in everyone he meets, perspires through his short-sleeved shirt, is overshadowed by intelligent graduates “from Krakow and Brratislaaavaâ€?, and of course, holds barbecues when the weather is “spittingâ€?.

The realism of he and his wife’s preparations for the barbecue, and stilted conversation with his boss – “Ted made the tzatzikiâ€? – whose wonderful heavily pregnant partner knocks back the alcohol throughout (“baby loves champagneâ€?) is superbly tense.

However, this soon gives way to hyperbolic drama involving the capture and false imprisonment of an innocent boy, undermining the curiously unnerving build-up, making it difficult to sympathise with the characters further.

The exasperated wives’ presence keeps the farce halfway grounded, Ted’s wife asking “anyone want a coffee?â€? to two grown men sitting on a bleeding child, but it is not quite enough to bring credibility to the scene. There is an echo of Abigail’s Party, but it is too crass and climactic to quite reach its intelligence.

This middle-class mayhem is cut alongside rather dull and passé police interrogation scenes with a hard faced 13 year old boy, a necessary sub-plot to set up the plot for the next three episodes. These follow the story of those whose lives were affected by the pertinent littering incident and Ted’s reaction to it. Too sentimental to be off-beat, too angry to be a sitcom, and too rushed to be brooding, this drama is trying to do too much.