Sherwood: TV drama hailed by critics after final episode

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David Morrissey stars as DCS Ian St Clair
Image caption,
David Morrissey played DCS Ian St Clair

Crime drama Sherwood drew to a close on Tuesday, with one critic describing it as "the best BBC drama of the year".

The show, starring Lesley Manville and David Morrissey, centres around the hunt for a killer tormenting a fractured Nottinghamshire community.

It has had glowing reviews, and the BBC announced on Wednesday that a second series has been commissioned.

The Telegraph's five-star review of the finale said the show was "authentic, devastating and perfectly cast".

The paper's critic Alex Diggins wrote: "2022 has been a purple patch for grown-up, serious drama on the BBC.

"The Tourist, The Responder and This is Going to Hurt were all excellent. But in the clarity of its storytelling, and the authenticity of its atmosphere, Sherwood split the bullseye: the best BBC drama of the year so far, and I'd hazard some time to come.

"No wonder it's just been recommissioned for a second series."

Image caption,
Lesley Manville plays Julie Jackson in the show

Two murders and the toxic legacy of a dispute that drove families apart lie at the heart of the drama, which was inspired by real-life events in writer James Graham's home town.

It follows two police officers in a mining village still scarred by the divisions laid down during the miners' strike decades earlier.

Diggins added that Nottinghamshire-born Graham's "story of murder, scabs and old wounds has proved to be so much more than a simple crime drama".

The show, he said, contains "ringing echoes" of the mythology of Robin Hood, and, moreover, "believable people, in a believable world, broken on the rack of history and their own mistakes".

Image source, Matt Squire
Image caption,
Philip Jackson, Lorraine Ashbourne and Perry Fitzpatrick in Sherwood

The Guardian seemed to agree, also offering five-stars. Lucy Mangan wrote that the "gloriously directed, superbly written ending was quietly devastating".

She said: "The entire cast has been rightly and unanimously lauded.

"Sherwood has been stuffed with the unquestionable best of a generation of British acting talent in Manville, Morrissey, Lorraine Ashbourne (who gets all the work she deserves but not always the glory - despite never failing to convince absolutely every moment she's on screen) and those filling every other main role.

"They all had a fine script to work with and glorious direction that made it even more than the sum of its parts. Every arrow found its mark."

Reviewing the penultimate episode of the BBC One show the previous evening, however, the Daily Mail was less impressed, offering only two-stars.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Bally Gill, David Morrissey, writer James Graham and Joanne Froggatt at a screening in Nottingham at the start of June

"Sherwood has been a disappointment, with storylines as flat as the beer," wrote Christopher Stephens, referencing the working men's club in the show.

"The cast is outstanding, crammed with more top actors than a Harry Potter movie. But even the talents of Lorraine Ashbourne, Mark Addy, Pip Torrens, Adeel Akhtar, David Morrissey and Robert Glenister can't cover up the yawning illogicalities in the plot."

His paper had previously described the show as "utterly compelling".

As the BBC announced that filming for series two would commence next year, Graham said he wrote the show as "a warning" that "when communities are divided, the pain endures".

"Our history shows how the forces of polarisation have been weaponised to achieve political ends," he wrote in the Guardian. "It was this, rather than any desire to create a traditional crime show, that drove me to write Sherwood."

Morrissey said it had been "a wonderful ride".

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