an unforgettable piece of television

somewhere boy (Channel 4) is about a child kept apart from the outside world. When he emerges, he is confused, terrified and elated by the novelty of what he encounters. It’s not an original idea. Emma Donoghue’s novel Room explored similar territory; you could go all the way back to Colin, the confined boy in The Secret Garden. Still, Somewhere Boy is an unforgettable piece of television.

A lot of that is down to the performances, not just of Lewis Gribben as the lead, Danny, but in all of the supporting roles. Danny spent his entire childhood in an isolated house with his father (Rory Keenan), who tells him that monsters lurk outside. For a young child, this is easy to believe. But with no other influences as he grows – Danny has no access to television or radio, only his father’s collection of black-and-white films and old-school records – the fear remains powerful. . It’s not until tragedy strikes this small family unit that Danny, now a young adult, is forced from the safety of his home.

He is taken in by his aunt, Sue (Lisa McGrillis), who has a son the same age. “I didn’t know I had to share my room with a complete mentalist,” complains son, Aaron (Samuel Bottomley). Danny has to experience everything for the first time: the traffic, the streets of the houses, the public transport, Aaron watching porn on his phone (“What are they doing?” he asks, not understanding really not what he sees).

It’s a heartbreaking turn from Gribben as the lonely, confident Danny. And he’s not the only one going through the tough years of young adulthood; Aaron may have grown up under normal circumstances but, behind the bravado, he’s clumsy and lonely in his own way. Bottomley portrays this brilliantly.

The story gains narrative tension over its eight half-hour episodes as Danny discovers what happened to his mother and embarks on a mission (no spoilers here). Sometimes you can pause to wonder if this drama — from early TV writer Pete Jackson — is manipulative stuff. Isn’t that an infallible way of pinching our heartstrings, of giving us this stunned naivety with sad eyes? But the quality of the drama transcends these concerns.

Through flashbacks, we get a better understanding of the father’s motivation. The story seems beyond the bounds of reality but is rooted in a fundamental human truth: as parents, we want to protect our children. Who hasn’t had a moment to look at their young child and wish they could stay suspended in childhood forever?

Comments are closed.