I’ve long been an admirer of acclaimed TV writer Jimmy McGovern, and this new BritBox three-part prison drama has all of his trademarks: a northern England setting, complex characters, gritty realism and harrowing scenes that are almost too hard to watch - but at the same time too brilliant to miss.
Time is the story of prisoner Mark Cobden (played by Sean Bean). Cobden, a gentle, well-educated man is behind bars for a drunk-driving fatality, heart wrenchingly out of his depth and desperately fighting for survival in a brutal environment. Stephen Graham (Line of Duty) plays conflicted prison officer Eric McNally, striving to treat inmates with decency and respect but also struggling to survive in a world of intimidation, threats and corruption.
The supporting cast includes Siobhan Finneran, Sue Johnstone and Graham's real-life wife (Hannah Walters) playing his on-screen wife too. While all the acting is superb, Bean and Graham who've both worked with McGovern many times before, are absolutely outstanding.
As you would expect from a prison drama, there are violent, disturbing scenes, emotional themes and devastating events throughout. Undoubtedly gripping but certainly not easy viewing, this is brilliantly bleak, traumatic telly at its very best.
Time will lock you in and throw away the key. But only if you can bear to watch.
Time - all episodes streaming now on BritBox.
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