True Love Review: Bitesize Heartbreak

TRUE LOVE: Sunday 17th June, BBC1, 10.25pm

Facebook has achieved many things in the last few years. It’s ruined the word ‘poke’, made us all despise anyone who’s travelling and rendered any unlocked computer a blank canvas for office japery, but one of the most subversive aspects of the site is the way it let’s you snoop on your exes. You’ve never done it? Of course not..

Anyway these themes of romantic nostalgia, regret and lost love* form the basis of tonight’s opening episode of True Love, a short and sharp five-part series which delves into ‘modern relationships’. Over the next few days we’ll be seeing Jane Horrocks, Billie Piper and a few others telling their tale from a vaguely inter-connected Margate residents, but David Tennant kicked us off. Here we saw him play Nick, a man who was happily married with a child, until his first girlfriend reappeared out of the blue and put an irresistible dilemma in his head.

The angle was simple, but this was a finely-drawn piece from writer/director Dominic Savage.

A short run-time meant that there was no messing about and in general, the format worked despite the absence of any backstory. The main gripe is that this lack of exposition makes Vicky McClure’s character pretty reprehensible. Maybe if we knew why she’d just come back from Canada to seduce Nick, only to leave immediately, plunging his relationship into doubt we might feel a bit better about it, but then again maybe not. Maybe she’s just a selfish slag? It does happen. But if you’re going to make your drama bitesize then things need to be sacrificed.

What’s more, despite all the maguffin from the PR department, this story DID feel relevant. Marriage has been on the slide for a number of decades now, but with the world shrinking rapidly in the wake of social media, thousands of people can probably identify with the personal turmoil that Tennant’s character felt. Relationships are crazy things and it’s human nature to wonder whether things could have been very different. The grass is always greener etc etc..

Speaking of the Virgin Media-toting Scot, he’s been grinding on me a bit of late, but his portrayal of a good man in limbo, powerless to resist a mistake after being hit by an emotional sucker-punch was excellent. Yet Joanna Froggat stole the show as the spurned wife who was equally powerless to stop her husband’s infidelity. That living room scene where Nick lied to her face when she knew what was going on was heartbreaking. But then I suppose she’s had plenty of practice with Bates.

*People who stalk their ex Facebook do not necessarily do so for these reasons. Some people are just curious.. and by curious, of course we mean that they want to gloat over the fact that their ex is now going out with a right minger.

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