BLACKOUT – BBC One 

Booze is god but takes Daniel Demoys (Christopher Eccleston) on a one way ticket to hell (and back again).

If you want gritty Northern drama,Christopher Eccleston is a go to actor. In Blackout he convincingly plays alcoholic Daniel Demoys embroiled in a web of violence and deception largely of his own making.

He’s a corrupt local councillor who is supplementing his income by selling information about tenders for  lucrative service contracts.  This extra cash funds his heavy drinking and occasional whoring. When he’s not on the dark side he is a loving father and devoted husband. Redemption is on hand but comes at a cost.

This is an entertaining three parter directed by Tom Green and written by Bill Gallagher who clearly fancied working on something meatier after his adaption of Lark Rise To Candleford.

The brooding ambient soundtrack, constant rain, noirish photography and stylised aerial shots all conspire to give a Bladerunner quality to the unnamed metropolis. The actual location is referred to only as ‘the city’ but ,as it’s somewhere ‘up North’  with awful weather,  the smart money is on Manchester.

Daniel lurches from moments of clarity to frequent blackouts when he can’t remember what he did. We are kept guessing as to whether or not he killed the man who was paying him for inside information. Eccleston looks suitably hunted and cursed as he carries around a Kafkaesque sense of guilt for a crime he may or may not have committed.

Eccleston is the star of the show but he’s backed by a strong supporting cast. It was good to see Ewen Bremner as double-dealing political consultant Jerry Durrans (although he will always be Spud from Trainspotting in my eyes). Andrew Scott fresh from his triumph as Moriarty in BBC’s Sherlock was also impressive as the slippery and sinister Detective Dalien Bevan.

The strong performances and striking visuals mask a pretty thin plot but this is above average TV drama.

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