Jimmy McGovern is one of the few TV writers around today who brings the lives of ordinary people into our living room.
He is committed to realistically portraying how people struggle to survive, and how the society we live in can tear apart everything that previously seemed secure.
Each episode of his latest series, Accused, opens with the main protagonist in court. We then discover the circumstances that led them to that moment.
Its stand out episode is Frankie’s Story, which was screened on Monday of this week.
In it, best friends Frankie and Pete join the army to avoid being jailed for a punch up.
They are sent to Afghanistan, where the army’s brutalisation of the young men who serve in it is laid bare. A sadistic corporal, wonderfully played by Mackenzie Crook, makes Pete into the “camp bitch”, with tragic consequences.
This is not uplifting drama, but its power and realism makes it must-watch TV.
Accused’s depiction of the army and the war in Afghanistan led Colonel Tim Collins to say that McGovern had “stabbed [soldiers] in the back”. Nothing could be further from the truth.
McGovern, as always, empathises with the rank and file of the army while reserving his bile for those who send them to die.
He has said, “I come from a part of the world and a socio-economic group that feeds the army. If our young men and women are going to die for it, then it’s got to be for a good reason and I don’t think Afghanistan is a good enough reason.”
Written by Jimmy McGovern
9pm, Mondays, BBC1
You can watch the first two episodes of Accused on the BBC’s iPlayer
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