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William and Mary, Series 3



Review by Lizzie Guilfoyle

WILLIAM and Mary is a contemporary love story with an element of will-they-won't-they (get married, that is - the other is never in doubt) thrown in for good measure.

The result is an engaging, down-to-earth drama that not only tackles emotive issues but unravels some of the mystery surrounding birth and death.

So, who are William and Mary? William is an undertaker; Mary a midwife - an unusual pairing to say the least but, in the capable hands of Martin Clunes and Julie Graham, one that works extremely well.

Series Three, then, finds the pair living together with their respective offspring - in all, a total of five, of which only the youngest is a joint effort.

Problems abound but it's Molly's illness (for the uninitiated, Molly is Mary's high-spirited and somewhat unconventional mother, played to the hilt by the delightful Cheryl Campbell) plus a son in trouble that put increasing strain on the relationship.

So, when Mary is drawn to another and quite different William, the question arises - can the relationship survive?

Along the way, issues such as home delivery versus hospital confinement; Non- Hodgkins Lymphoma; abortion and the ofttimes traumatic pursuit of a university place, are cleverly incorporated in story arcs that imitate life and, as such, don't guarantee a happy ending.

While the practical side of death is seen from an undertaker's viewpoint - an aspect rarely seen by the public in general.

Yet, what could so easily become a depressing catalogue of human misfortune is cleverly infused with humour and the certainty that the principal protagonists really do care about their fellow men (or women, as the case may be).

William, in particular, displays both sensitivity and understanding when dealing with the bereaved. But even in this, the funerals are original - take the biker's, for instance - thus ensuring it never descends into mawkishness.

Just one niggling question remains. Is William too nice? In a role that couldn't be more different from his Men Behaving Badly persona, Clunes is superb. While Graham excels as Mary, delivering (no pun intended) a bona fide performance that makes the character totally believable.

Watch out too, for Michael Begley as Rick, Molly's toy-boy husband, whose reaction to his wife's illness leaves viewers in no doubt as to his motives.

William and Mary makes for some absorbing viewing and, in spite of its content, is never heavy-going. Above all, it's heart-warming and will go far in restoring a sometimes shaky faith in human nature. Consequently, it comes highly recommended.

 

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