TV review: An Inspector Calls, BBC One
- Henry Northmore
- 4 September 2015
Classy adaptation of JB Priestley's play starring David Thewlis, Ken Stott and Miranda Richardson
After The Scandalous Lady W and a new version of Lady Chatterley's Lover, the Beeb seems rather fond of the feature length period drama format. Now JB Priestley's classic 1945 play, An Inspector Calls, has been adapted with David Thewlis as the eponymous detective.
Set in 1912 as a rich family celebrate their daughter's engagement to the son of a former business rival. The party atmosphere instantly disrupted by the arrival of the mysterious inspector with the news of the suicide of a young girl. He lets accusations hang in the air and fill the silence. The story unpeels like the layers of an onion, the truth slowly revealed in stages as each member of the family realises their role in her death.
Thewlis gives the inspector just the right air of ominous menace. His presence breeds paranoia, leaving quiet devastation in his wake. Ken Stott and Miranda Richardson play the parents who most obviously embody the hypocrisy at the centre of the story; their reaction as the police man departs is perhaps the most telling of all. Chloe Pirrie, Finn Cole and Kyle Soller also deserve praise (playing the privileged children and son-in-law), believably capturing both guilt and selfishness as the narrative unfolds.
An Inspector Calls utilises the structure of a murder mystery to examine capitalism, the class system and in particular how the rich treat the poor. It questions ideas of culpability and the implications of our actions or inaction (especially relevant with regard to the current refugee crisis). Rest assured that this take on the classic play is an classy, considered and intelligent production.
BBC One, Sun 13 Sep, 8.30pm.