I hope of all of you who have been following Cucumber on Channel 4 have recovered from last night’s stunning, heart-wrenching, totally I-feel-like-I’ve-been-hit-by-a-bus episode. I wasn’t too convinced at the start of the run with too much of Russell T Davies‘ trademark soapiness and middle-age angst screaming that it just isn’t fair getting old. Oh, and a bit too much camera time spent lingering on the ‘beautiful’ Freddie Fox (maybe you have to be a gay man or a daft little girl to appreciate… )
But – but – hats off to Russell T for producing one of the most beautifully written, heart-stopping, completely absorbing pieces of TV drama ever. In a week when the first series of Wolf Hall came to a close most people would be saving their plaudits and filling out their award cards for that. But – can I inject some of the Emperor’s New Clothes here? Wolf Hall came with solid gold literary credentials and while it did contain some great performances (Claire Foy in particular) it dripped with its own self-importance and lot of the scenes seemed to be set in aspic. Talking of credentials they don’t come better qualified than Mark Rylance and Damian Lewis but a lot of the time they seemed a bit swamped by the magnitude of it all.
I’m sorry, but compared to the beautiful nuanced performance by Cyril Nri that damn near broke my heart – and not forgetting able support from Vincent Franklin and James Murray – the Cucumber lads acted the history boys into a cocked hat. Final thought – Mark Rylance said that he watched a lot of Robert Mitchum and Brad Pitt for inspiration in his role as Thomas Cromwell – he should do himself a favour and study episode six of Cucumber for a real acting masterclass.