TV COLUMN: Theresa v Boris; Murdered for Being Different.

James Waller-Davies
James Waller-Davies

Columnist James Waller-Davies gives his view of some of the recent events on television.

Broadcast in what must have felt like a rush of panic in case current events superseded its relevance was the political docudrama Theresa v Boris: The Battle to be PM (BBC2).

The battle for the Tory leadership took place less than a year ago, but already have the feel of ancient history.

At the time the schemings of the participants, May, Johnson, Gove and Leadsome, were presented in the news as having the level of intrigue of which the Borgias would have been proud.

A year on, it all seems rather tame, with the only real drama the ill-judged political knifing of BoJo by Michael Gove – but even Gove’s self-inflicted wound is one from which he has been rehabilitated a year later.

The drama’s biggest flaw was its presentation of the two lead figures when viewed through the benefit of post-general election hindsight.

Hitherto, May’s career appeared to have be to have been built on the premise of stay in the background, keep quiet and people will presume you’re capable and competent.

Boris took the opposite route, playing the clown with consummate buffoonery, daring observers to assume there must be more substance really. One might argue that the last week has undermined both premises.

The dramatized sections played to the prevailing caricatures, Theresa as a rather drab schoolmistress and Boris as the school loon, shoved to the front of the class by his mates as a dare.

Neither seemed convincing and overall it had the feel of stale bread. Between production and broadcast, it was clear it had been put on the shelf too late and passed its ‘best by’ date.

BBC3’s rebrand to its online incarnation II! has sunk it into somewhat of a digital obscurity, ensuring that if you’re older than 14, then programmes are stumbled on by chance rather than design.

Ironically, it was just at the point that II! started making better programmes that it got its terrestrial plug pulled.

Murdered for Being Different (II!) is a dramatization of the killing of Sophie Lancaster back in 2007, for no other reason than her Goth fashion choice.

The unprovoked attack in the street by a gang of youths left Sophie dead and her boyfriend, Robert Maltby, in a coma. It was by parts brutal, touching, loving and provocative.

The cast were superb, led by Abigail Lawrie and Nico Mirallegro as Sophie and Robert, and supported by Chanel Cresswell as investigating officer DC Steph Farley and witness Michael Gorman played by Reiss Jarvis.

The editing, which jumped back and forth in time providing context, added to the impending tragic climax moving inexorably to the final murderous assault.

It’s not that it was ‘too good’ for II!, but it is a shame that Murdered for Being Different didn’t get the wider appreciation that terrestrial broadcasting attracts.

It was every bit as poignant as other recent real-life dramas, such as Little Boy Blue and Three Girls, and deserved a higher profile.