As we move through the summer months, we begin to look towards the autumn television schedule and one of the upcoming dramas coming to BBC One is the three-part drama The Driver, the first episode of which was screened tonight at BAFTA in London.
Written and co-created by BAFTA-winning writer Danny Brocklehurst and Jim Poyser and co-produced by the successful RED Production Company (whose successes include Clocking Off, Single Father, Queer As Folk and Scott & Bailey), The Driver introduces us to Manchester cab driver Vince McKee, played by David Morrissey. Vince is feeling increasingly frustrated with his life and one day, after always trying to do the right thing just seems to backfire, he makes a decision that will affect his whole life. His old friend (played by Morrissey’s real life close friend Ian Hart) is just out of prison and knows a man looking for a driver who won’t ask questions.
This drama starts as it means to go on, with the opening minutes grabbing the audience’s attention and keeping it throughout the rest of the hour. Vince is clearly a good man, who has become increasingly low, possibly due to the mystery circumstances of his son’s absence from the family home. As David Morrissey said in this evening’s Q&A, although he knows what he is getting in to is wrong, he has lost his masculinity and it makes him feel alive again. Morrissey is superb as Vince. I always find him to be a very real, believable actor – no matter what the role, I always believe David Morrissey as the character and The Driver is no exception. He plays Vince as a very ordinary, simple man, who is just trying to make a living and be happy in his life. Although you find yourself frustrated by his choices, you can’t help but understand why he is ultimately making them. David Morrissey spoke about wanting the audience to be empathetic towards Vince rather than sympathetic and I certainly found that to be the case for me.
The rest of the main cast are also very good. Colm Meaney (perhaps now best known for Star Trek), in his first British television role since 1982, is perfectly cast as “Horse”, the head of the criminal gang Vince encounters. He brilliantly walks the line between friendly, jokey bloke and someone who won’t hesitate to make you pay for your mistakes. He also has great dynamics with the rest of the gang. Claudie Blakley is also good as Vince’s wife Ros, although I imagine she will continue to develop over the remaining episodes.
One of the aspects of The Driver that I most enjoyed was the fact that, although being quite tense, there are also wonderfully humorous moments too (a scene involving the gang’s tea mugs was a favourite of mine) and the script is skilfully written to bring both the humour and the high drama across in a realistic way.
I don’t want to give too much away about the story and I have no idea where it is going. What I can say is that I thoroughly enjoyed episode one of this series. It is a brilliantly scripted piece of drama, that is brought to the screen so well by its director and cast. It’s certainly not relaxing television, but it is high quality British drama at its best and I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of it in the autumn.
The Driver will be screened on BBC One this autumn, so keep an eye on the television schedules for details and have a look at the trailer via this link: The Driver Trailer