One Night

On BBC1 this week, there’s been an excellent drama over three nights, with a final fourth episode tonight. One Night tells the goings on over a single twenty four hour period in an inner-city part of London. Each episode tells one side of the story, starting with Ted (Douglas Hodge) who lives in his fairly middle-class home adjacent to a large council estate. He castigates a group of school-girls who drop litter outside his home and then give him verbal abuse.
The ramifications are later seen from the perspective of one of those girls – Rochelle (Georgina Campbell) – who is in fact a gifted student sitting her A Levels and chasing a place in Oxford. Her boyfriend meanwhile, of Somali descent, is facing some gang repurcussion following a murder on the estate.
The third episode concentrates on Carol (Jessica Hynes), who’s struggling on her own, raising her kids whilst holding down a dull supermarket checkout job, and trying her hand at stand-up. There’s a terrific scene in which she performs in a comedy club, and we see the full routine with its sometimes mixed reaction, as she performs some very personal comedy. And despite what she’s done for her kids, Carol’s older son seems to be involved in gangs.
The fourth and final episode goes out tonight. And it features 13 year-old Alfie (Billy Matthews). The linking mechanism of the whole piece is a police interview with Alfie who came into the station with a gun that’s been used. How this came to be, we’ll learn tonight. It’s a great story.
But, if you’ve not been watching, I wonder if it’s because of the scheduling? It was clearly commissioned to be shown over consecutive nights, but I can’t help thinking that it was originally designed to run at 9pm over four nights from Monday to Thursday (Friday perhaps having a usual comedy block).
But that’s not where it’s ended up. Instead it’s been going out at 10.35pm each night, meaning that episodes don’t finish until twenty-five to midnight. And since Wednesday evenings also have to accommodate a lottery programme, that can mean quarter to midnight. Furthermore, because Question Time is a BBC1 fixture, the drama has to run Monday to Wednesday, take a night off, and then conclude on Friday.
And, as I’ve said before, I’m not a fan of this kind of multi-night “event” scheduling. Even with PVRs, and iPlayer, it’s too easy to miss an episode, or fall behind until you realise you’ve got hours to catch-up on. Doing the same in post 10.30pm slot just feels completely foolish.
All in all, it feels like shambolic scheduling.
Yet the programme itself is excellent. There are perhaps too many dramas at the moment telling the same story from multiple angles – with Titanic on ITV1 being the latest (and not convincing me thus far). But this feels right.
So a jewel that most will miss. What a shame.