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Thursday 24 Apr 2014

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Accused – episode synopses

Episode one – Willy's Story
By Jimmy McGovern

Willy Houlihan (Christopher Eccleston) is a decent man and has been making a good living as a plumber. He and his wife, Carmel (Pooky Quesnel), are comfortable and their children have grown up and are soon to fly the nest.

But Willy's restless and has been having a clandestine affair with Michelle (Emma Fensom). What's more, the lovers have made a pact to confess their infidelity and tell their respective spouses they're leaving them.

At the very moment Willy's about to drop the bombshell on his wife, his daughter, Laura (Joanna Higson), arrives home and announces she's getting married. Willy's guilty secret must wait.

Shortly afterwards, Willy's family are out for a celebratory dinner with Laura's well-to-do prospective in-laws. He insists on paying for everything and is humiliated when his bank card is refused. It transpires that he hasn't been paid for his last job because the company is bankrupt.

For the first time in years, Willy's worried about money. But his pride won't allow him to change what are becoming elaborate and costly wedding plans.

What's more, Willy's infidelity is getting to him and his behaviour is becoming increasingly erratic. In a moment of despair, he seeks solace in a local church but ignores the priest's straight-forward advice.

When his car breaks down, Willy takes a cab and finds something on the back seat that might be the answer to his prayers, or the beginning of his downfall.

But, despite Willy's best efforts, events rapidly spiral out of his control and now he is in the dock and the jury will decide what happens next. Will he be free to go or sent down?

Episode two – Frankie's Story
By Jimmy McGovern

Twenty-year-old Frankie Nash, (Ben Smith), is awaiting his verdict. He's strangely quiet and stoic.

It's some months earlier and Frankie and his best-mate, Peter McShane (Ben Batt), are up for it and out on the town. But their bravado turns sour, ends in a fight and they're arrested. Peter, a champion amateur boxer, is about to follow in his dad's footsteps, Peter McShane Senior (Robert Pugh), and join the army. Frankie decides to do the same to avoid a prison sentence.

All too soon they are deployed to Afghanistan and on the front line. There's a terrifying skirmish and the Taliban attack. Suddenly, it's a life-or-death situation, but Peter is so petrified he can't return fire. He has endangered the lives of his comrades and Lance Corporal Buckley, (Mackenzie Crook), has seen everything. McShane is a marked man.

Buckley summarily makes McShane the "camp bitch" and systematically terrorises him and orders his peers to do likewise. Mortified, Frankie begs Peter to get himself out and home, but Peter says he can't disappoint his father. The bullying reaches extreme levels and Buckley forces Frankie to humiliate and betray his friend.

The subsequent events are dire for everyone and, ultimately, result with Frankie in the dock in Britain facing trial by jury. What will their judgment be and are there any mitigating circumstances?

Episode three – Helen's Story
By Alice Nutter and Jimmy McGovern

Helen Ryland (Juliet Stevenson) is led up to the dock there is a defiant look in her eye. Nothing can hurt her now.

A primary teacher, Helen Ryland sends her son, Rob (Joseph Phillips), off to his first day of temping work in a local factory called Maxfields. He is fatally injured in his first hour there, yet it is only later that night that Helen and her husband, Frank (Peter Capaldi), learn to their horror that their only child is dead.

Utterly bereft, the Rylands go to the factory to find out what happened but while the owner, Alan Maxfield, (Peter Wright), is sympathetic he is evasive about the detail of the accident. Helen goes to see the other lad, Michael Lang (Alfie Allen), who started work with Rob that fateful day to hear his version of events.

She knows something is wrong. With great fortitude and courage she determines to find out the truth and quash the invidious suggestion that Rob was somehow to blame for his own death. Frank is consumed by grief and sinks into depressed torpor, but Helen fights on.

Time drags on and Helen and Frank are worn down by the process of law when trying to get someone to accept responsibility for the death of their boy. Time and again it seems justice will be had but then it is snatched away again. Will the grieving parents ever see justice done? It seems not. Increasingly incensed, Helen strikes out at the factory owner, committing a serious crime.

Now Helen has looked the jury in the eye and told them her story, the question is will they convict?

Episode four – Liam's Story
By Danny Brocklehurst and Jimmy McGovern

As Liam walks to the dock to hear his fate, he feels the depth of hatred and heart break directed right at him from his loved ones as they look on.

Liam Black, (Andy Serkis), drives a cab. He's a gambler and desperate to escape the limitations and stresses of his life and his marriage. One day he takes Emma Croft (Jodie Whittaker) to the airport and is smitten. She's an estate agent going to a conference, young and full of life. He gives her his card and says ring anytime. He really means it.

As usual, Liam's skint, but needs a present for his daughter, Katy (Mia Smith), who has just got into a good school to do her A Levels. Opportunistically, he breaks into Emma's empty flat and steals her laptop as well as a necklace, which he presents to his daughter.

But his infatuation with Emma has begun to turn into something more compulsive and dangerous. When Emma calls from the airport distressed, having heard from her mother she's been burgled, the opportunity has arisen for him to inveigle his way into Emma's life. Immediately, Liam sets about making himself indispensable to her.

It's a proud occasion for the Blacks. Liam and his wife, Roz (Neve McIntosh), who is disabled with Multiple Sclerosis, accompany their daughter to the smart new school she's about to attend. Liam tells everyone how much he wants his daughter to be successful, unlike him.

Liam's fixation with Emma is becoming obsessive. He invents a new history for himself, which she believes. But when he discovers that her boyfriend, Neil (Tom Ellis), is not all he seems, Liam connives to breaks them up, but all too soon the uncontrollable impulses driving Liam result in tragedy.

Now Liam is in the dock will the jury find him guilty as charged?

Episode five – Kenny's Story
By Esther Wilson and Jimmy McGovern

Family man Kenny Armstrong (Marc Warren) works at the local crematorium and now he's in the dock because he acted against his better judgment.

Kenny leads an ordinary life with his wife and children. Then, one seemingly normal afternoon turns into a nightmare. The Armstrong's daughter, Chloe (Jade Kilduff), has been attacked by a man in the local park.

Fuelled with self-righteous outrage, his friends the Richmond brothers, Gordon (Joe Duttine) and Neil (Jack Deam), race off with Kenny to search the park and find the culprit. Chloe has said that the man was wearing blue shorts and had a dog.

The men find the man described and set upon him. He is seriously injured. Kenny is horrified by the ferocity of the brother's attack and violence they have all perpetuated. By the time he gets home, his wife, Donna, has called the police. They ask where he's been. Awkwardly, he lies saying he's just been for a drink with his friends to numb the shock.

Later, the terrible consequences of the friends' action become apparent. Kenny is filled with doubts and remorse and wants to do the right thing and tell the police the truth. Gordon and Neil are adamant – they must keep their nerve and say nothing. Given the information they had wouldn't any parent do the same?

Now the three friends are in the dock. But Kenny has confessed and the brothers have not. So who will be convicted on the evidence presented?

Episode six – Alison's Story
By Jimmy McGovern

Mother of two Alison Wade (Naomie Harris) is in the dock and facing serious charges. She's in a state of shock and disbelief.

Alison works at a special needs care centre. She's married to David (Warren Brown) and they adore their two young children, Hannah (Janay Bell) and Tom (Lucas Sproul). But their relationship is under strain. David's been made redundant and is now looking after the children full time.

Alison has a growing relationship with a work colleague called Ben. When she is due to go away on a weekend course Alison has a drink with Ben instead, misses her train and spends the time with him. Once home it becomes obvious she has not been away on a course.

David and Alison struggle on but doubts about her faithfulness are always there. Bitterness and recriminations grow. They reach a head when Alison returns home one night after blatantly going for a drink with Ben and David commits a heinous crime against his wife.

She tells him to leave and he returns to his father Gordon's house. But the Wades feud has only just begun. David's bereft when separated from daily contact with his children. Gordon, a police sergeant, hates seeing his son's heartbreak, and before long the two have conspired against Alison, but can she fight back and who will get custody of the children?

Now the jury has heard incriminating evidence against her the question is will it stand up?

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