Remember Me, Television Review. B.B.C.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * *

Cast: Michael Palin, Mark Addy, Hodie Comer, Julia Sawalha, Jamie-Rooney-West, Tony Pitts, Eileen Davies, Mayuri Boonham, Kate Dobson, Mina Anwar, Noreen Kershaw, Kirsty Hoiles, Ubayd Rehman, Aqib Khan, Sheila Hancock, Rebekah Staton, Rita May, Marcus Garvey, Richard Lumsden, Orla Cottingham, Gary Pillai, Roger Grainger, Tony Monroe, Indra J. Adler, Hilly Barber, Garry Marriott.

Remember Me is the first outing in dramatic role for what seems an interminable age for one of Yorkshire’s favourite sons Michael Palin. It is a role that perhaps offered so much to one of the absolute greats of British comedy but ultimately fell flat with little hope of being considered one of the giant’s great visual feasts.

The British obsession for a good ghost story has been around longer than many of the castles that still line the coast lines of the islands and dominate the features of the countryside have been inexistence. The throwback to a different age which in some ways is the point of Remember Me, which ties together with some effect the bombardment that hit the North East towns during World War One and the vestiges of the British Raj and its after effects on the psyches of both Indian and British sensibilities and politics.

Gwyneth Hughes’ Remember Me sees Michael Palin star as Tom Parfitt, a man with a troubled past who has never got over the grief of losing a wife and the unhappiness that he has had to live with since. There is though another woman for whom Time has neglected and the memory lives long in the heart of Tom; it is a memory that will start to claim the lives of those who find themselves in the way of reuniting two people who should never have been together.

Whilst Remember Me is on the surface a renaissance into the art of a good ghost story, it lacks the dynamic that is built up in such fictional stories as M.R. James’ Oh, Whistle, And I’ll Come To You My Lad or even Charles Dickens The Signalman. Where they differ in perspective is the way the tales are drawn together. For something like The Signalman it is the fear of the future that drives the narrative, the coming of the technologic age and the eeriness of the uncertain potential that such times bring. For Remember Me, the past is what dominates as it bleeds unceremoniously into the present.

Whilst it was charming to see Michael Palin back on television and in a role that didn’t use his extensive knowledge as one of Britain’s much loved travel guides, it was to Mark Addy, finally getting something meaty to throw his talent behind and away from the despairing Atlantis, as the jaded policeman, Mina Anwar as Tom’s neighbour and Mayuri Boonham as the figure from the past to whom all hinges upon.

There isn’t enough good quality programmes that deal in the genre and to have spread this particular story spread over three episodes was stretching out the enjoyment far too thinly. Some stories do not need the length of time that television affords it, some just need to be told for all they are worth in the space of 90 minutes, for surely a lot of the scenes in this particular tale were more akin to fluff than substance.

Remember Me will be difficult to forget but not for all the right reasons.

Ian D. Hall