Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10
Cast: Sean Bean, Adrian Dunbar, Muna Otaru, Mark Stanley, Aine Ni Mhuiri, Rochenda Sandall, Paula Malcolmson, Paul Copley, Vanessa Earl, Steve Garti, Jerome Holder, David McClelland, Aoife McMahon, Naomi Pickering, Lauren Lyle, Anna Friel, Faye McKeever, Debra Michaels, Matthew Wilson, Thomas Arnold, Daniel C. Bishop, Eithne Browne, Clare Calbraith, Ned Dennehy, Jack Harper, Phil Davies.
The sense of social injustice is one that never leaves Jimmy McGovern, one of the true greats of modern British television he touches a raw nerve with his insight into the human condition and the anger inside; he also is one to not let sentiment take any prisoners if there is a moment of truth that will devastate the viewer but also send tidal waves of bitterness towards the uncaring forces that are supposed to be seen as leaders but in whom are, for the most part, uncaring, self serving shadows of men.
What Mr. McGovern and the team he has surrounded himself with in Broken has managed to do is beyond beautiful, reaching out far outside of disgust towards those who use religion as a means to push their own perverted sense of preaching and instead offering the picture of a flawed but decent human being caught up in the lives of both his parish and his own past.
To offer this level of compassion in a drama is normally one that would be seen as almost sugary, too sweet to be handled with more than a nod to thought of what a priest should be and yet with Sean Bean cast as the main character Father Kerrigan, a part that arguably doesn’t spring to mind when thinking of an actor who has played physically demanding characters all his life, that compassion shown is full of depth and honour.
Where the story perhaps truly hits home is with the parishioner Roz Demichelis whose addiction to gambling on fruit machines has spiralled out of control and who tells Father Michael of her plans to commit suicide as she confesses to having stolen her bosses’ money to fund the addiction.
It is the heartbreaking reality of the situation which makes you look at the society you live in, where you can walk around a town for ten minutes and come across more betting shops, more casinos than could have ever been imagined 20 years ago; there all to offer a cheap thrill, the small gamble of the last five pounds that you have to last you, chasing the dream of a big win that will ease all your problems. Jimmy McGovern captures this particular social ill and disease with accuracy and the devastating fall out that is at times more destructive than any other compulsion.
With Sean Bean showing the same form on television as he has done throughout his illustrious career on film, and supported by superb performances by Muna Otaru and Paula Malcolmson, Broken is a powerful series that manages to show humanity at its best in amongst the grit, grime and lies of modern society that is devoid of faith.
Ian D. Hall