Marriage: a poignant BBC drama about ordinary lives – The Week UK

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Married couple Ian (Sean Bean) and Emma (Nicola Walker)
Couples in prime-time dramas generally have designer fridges and marble-topped kitchen islands, said Christopher Stevens in the Daily Mail. How refreshing, then, to see no sign of any of that in this “utterly absorbing” BBC drama, about an ordinary couple living somewhere in Middle England.
Emma (Nicola Walker) and Ian (Sean Bean) have been together for 27 years; they drive a Ford Focus and bicker over jacket potatoes. But as the “layers of their marriage” are peeled back, we learn that their relationship is under strain: from a bereavement; from a job loss; from the pressure of caring for an elderly parent.
It’s “everyday stuff”, but beautifully written and acted. Anyone in a long-term relationship will certainly recognise the “claustrophobia, inertia and quotidian poignancy” on show in Marriage, said Nick Hilton on The Independent. “But why would we want to watch that on television? It’s bad enough living through it.”
The show is sure to win lots of awards, but “if I wanted to watch a man in his underpants drinking milk straight from the carton, I could provide myself with a live performance”.
It’s true that the drama could be said to be “lacking in pace”, said Carol Midgley in The Times. But I loved it all the same. At its heart, it’s “a portrait of the fascinating mundanity of ordinary human existence, of pain pushed down, of the quiet dysfunctionality of family relationships”. Marriage isn’t flawless, but it’s “a strange joy to watch; small, uneventful lives writ large”.
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