Holding On

Starring: David Morrissey, Phil Daniels, Lesley Manville and Saira Todd
RRP: 24.99
Certificate: 15
Available 01 August 2005

The tragic senseless murder of a beautiful young woman embarking on her journey through life acts as a catalyst of change for a large and diverse group of people seemingly unconnected with this terrible event. As the ripples of change expand, this group of people come under pressure to face the harsh realities of their existence and turn away from the cosy fantasies they thought they knew. Some discover an inner strength that inspires them to better their lives and look to the future with hope, but for others the overwhelming waves of despair and despondency push them even near to the edge of the abyss...

Holding On follows several families as they go about their lives in different areas of London. As the show progresses, we see how all of these individuals manage to make an impact, however small, on one another in various ways.

Watching it all with a jaundiced eye and a practised put down, apparently aloof and untouched by events, is Gary Rickey, a London newspaper food critic who doesn't seem to like food or it doesn't like him. However, even he cannot escape the inevitable and must eventually decide to sink or swim in this tide of change.

Phil Daniels's portrayal of Rickey is spot on. Annoying, vain and pompous, his constant commentary to camera make you want to smash his face in. But, as the series progresses, you start to see a whole different side to him and by the show's conclusion you can see where he's coming from.

The on/off relationship between Hilary (Lesley Manville) a PR executive and Lloyd Palmer (Treva Etienne) the security guard who looks after the block of flats in which she resides, is interesting. Hilary falls for Palmer when he helps her after she is being stalked by an unknown assailant. Despite the class and race differences, additional tension is built on the fact that Lesley isn't entirely sure whether Palmer was the person stalking her in the first place, and when he gets wind of this fact he looses his temper to the point where you are left wondering whether he is the mild mannered gentleman he seems to be.

Chris (Razaaq Adoti) is a regular young man. He wants to better himself and is well up on the music scene. So when he sets up his own pirate radio station it's only a matter of time before the police come knocking on his door. Chris's mother, Florrie (Ellen Thomas) moans at her son, like most mothers, wanting him to concentrate more on his job as a chef rather than his dream of becoming a DJ. Diane Parish plays Chris's sister, Janet, who believes that, in her mother's eyes, she lives in Chris's shadow. All three actors turn this family into a believable unit.

Claire Friel (Saira Todd) has troubles coming to terms with her sister's pointless death and sets off on a quest to ensure that this never happens again. Some much needed comedy is injected into the series when Claire gets a new lodger in the form of Brenda (Annette Badland), a slightly batty woman who has left her husband to start a new life in London.

But it is David Morrissey, as Shaun Sotherns, who is the main character. A tax man with a faultless record for being on the straight and narrow, he throws his reputation and career away when the chairman of the company he is investigating, for tax avoidance, digs into his past and uncovers a few well kept secrets about Shauns shady past - secrets that he hasn't even told his wife.

The first few of episodes were real eye openers. Two characters who the audience instantly grow to like, who are our eyes and ears of the London depicted in this series, die suddenly throwing the viewer off balance.

There are no extras at all on this three disc collection. While it would have been interesting to have had a few audio commentaries with the cast and crew, this release is still worth purchasing for the episodes alone.

One of the best BBC drama series's of the last decade.

Darren Rea

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