National Treasure

IT HAD to come – a TV drama inspired by the Jimmy Saville scandal and any number of living ‘national treasures’ investigated for historic sex abuse.

In real life some have been imprisoned and some exonerated, and along the way the lives of victims, celebrities and their families have all been turned upside down.

Whichever TV channel took the plunge, there was bound to be concern that we what we saw screen didn’t sensationalise the subject, and there would be critical comments whether the fictional celeb was guilty or innocent.

It was equally important that the resulting programme didn’t cop-out, dodging the hard stuff when the subject matter was such a promising vehicle for gripping drama.

So it was no surprise that Channel 4 prepared a cast-iron project, with a top-of-the-line cast and a BAFTA-winning writer and director both veterans of flagship TV dramas.

Jack Thorne previously penned This Is England while director Marc Munden had The Devil’s Whore and Utopia under his belt.

And as for Robbie Coltrane and Julie Walters in the lead roles – what more could a TV viewer want?

National Treasure is Channel 4 drama at its best – slow-burning but utterly absorbing, exploring the complexities of its characters and how they react to their every-deepening situations rather than going for twist after easy twist.

Coltrane plays one half of much-loved comedy duo stunned to be arrested after an allegation of sexual assault from two decades before.

We know from the first few minutes that he’s not perfect, and that his professional and family life festers with a host of troubles, but we’re kept guessing about the truth across the four episodes.

* Out on DVD.

David Knights