Robert Sheehan Shines on Accused
Jimmy McGovern’s Accused has been his best work yet. In the second series, we’ve seen Sean Bean play a transvestite caught up in a messy relationship with a married man. Last week was Olivia Colman and Anne-Marie Duff’s chance to shine as a pair of best friends torn apart by their sons’ involvement in gangs. I thought the series had peaked in excellence when the episode ended with the heartbreaking argument between the two mothers. But then along came Robert Sheehan, with short hair and a vulnerable look – clasping at his shirt sleeves. A far cry from Nathan in Misfits.
Robert convincingly plays a 17-year-old battling with mental health issues after his mother dies. Just months after her death, Stephen discovers his father is seeing the nurse, Charlotte, who cared for his beloved mother whilst she was on her death bed. The betrayal sends his paranoid thoughts into overdrive. By the end of the episode, he is convinced the nurse is trying to poison him and his brother. As well as the stellar performances, what really impresses in this episode is the writing. The viewer is always on Stephen’s side. We are aware of his paranoid thoughts but we are also convinced by them. We never really know what are his thoughts and what is reality. Take, for example, the scene where Charlotte sits on his bed and tries to talk to him. There is an insinuation that she is manipulating him. Just like in Stephen’s mind, thoughts and reality are blurred.
In a break from the norm, the last installment of Accused will continue on from last night. Expect the usual heart-wrenching chain of events. To catch up on previous episodes, go to BBC iPlayer. The final episode of Accused airs on BBC One on Tuesday September 4th at 9pm.