Restless (Part Two), Television Review. B.B.C. Television.

Michelle Dockery as Ruth Gilmartin. Picture courtesy of B.B.C.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *

Cast: Hayley Atwell, Rufus Sewell, Michelle Dockery, Charlotte Rampling, Michael Gambon, Thekla Reuten, Adrian Scarborough, Bertie Carvel, Anthony Calf.

The second segment of William Boyd’s fantastic spy tale, Restless, continued the excellent and riveting start that would have had viewers gripped in part one. With the net beginning to close in Eva Delectorskaya and her daughter Ruth, the pair began to set up Eva’s old boss and lover in a great case of double bluff.

With the action separated by thirty years and with the fantastic Hayley Atwell and tenacious Charlotte Rampling portraying the Russian woman turned British spy, the story of infatuation, deceit and honour had several twists and turns in it before the story came to its gripping conclusion.

There has been a plethora of spy stories of the years, some good, some excellent and some that you wonder how they were given air time, their stories too contrived and bordering on the worst type of Hollywood sensationalism. With World War One and Two stories there is a certain amount of integrity that comes with them, they are more likely to be researched rather than concocted in endless writers’ meetings. In William Boyd, this seems certainly and thankfully true.

With Hayley Atwell, Charlotte Rampling, the engaging Michelle Dockery having the majority of the screen time, it was also superbly written for these three female actors and a surprising welcome to see this line of story-telling being given the respect and quality the genre deserves.

If there is any gripe, any complaint about the two-part series, other than wondering why they had to bring Ruth Gilmartin’s ex-partner into the story line, is that this is a story-line that has legs. In very much the same way that the 1983 series, Reilly, Ace of Spies starring Sam Neill was a huge success, Restless is one of those rare quality one-offs that should be commissioned for a further series of productions.

Restless is a wonderful drama by the B.B.C. capturing the spirit of 1940’s espionage and 1970’s paranoia perfectly.


Ian D. Hall