If you thought Ireland was all craic and begorra good humour, according to the new drama Single Handed, it’s really not, and you should probably avoid caravanning in the area. One unfortunate woman, Silvana, didn’t heed that advice and she turned up dead in her caravan, the victim of carbon monoxide poisoning, apparently. Foul play, suicide or an unfortunate heating accident?
Well, in a drama that’s rather like the secret love child of The Wicker Man and Heartbeat, it was never going to be a simple accident, or even a suicide… there’s been a murder bejesus. And it seems pretty much everyone had a hand in it. But there, given that it’s written by the man who brought us The Vice and Midsomer Murders, Barry Simner, there just about had to be some dastardly deed afoot with sex at the heart of it…
However, caravan deaths aside, one of the most notable things about last night’s show was the stunning – but oftentimes gloomy and oppressive – and rugged scenery of the Connemara countryside. It’s truly beautiful in a Heathcliff/Cathy sort of a way, and in fact, this story had shades of their struggle with true love versus adversity.
And it was good; it was atmospheric, moody, with a strong plot and solid acting, and with the sting in the tail near the end, it packed a punch. That punch was made the more knockout by the superb acting of Owen McDonnell as Garda officer Jack Driscoll.
The storyline centred around Jack, an honest copper who’d gone back to work the beat in the community where he grew up. He was following in his dad’s footsteps because his dad had just retired from the Garda. And given the village is in the middle of nowhere, Jack does most of the policing single handed… see what they did there?
Anyway, in the first few minutes, Jack was called to investigate when an Eastern European woman, Silvana, was found dead in her caravan. He rapidly began to uncover a web of deceit and lies that surrounded the woman and many of the villagers, including his own dad.
It soon turned out that Silvana offered more than just pints from behind the bar at the local pub, and many of the local men had taken her up on that offer. As all this unpleasantness came to light, Jack had cause to say of the community,
“It’s a cesspit” before adding, “And my father’s the only one who can see into it. Sometimes, I think he’s stirring it up because he enjoys the stink.”
However, not everything was rotten, or at least, that’s what Jack thought as he began to fall in love with visiting beauty Saoirse. But there was to be a nasty sting in that tale too; Saorise was Jack’s half sister! I know! And Jack had slept with her, but of course, he didn’t know she was his half sister at the time.
So, poor Jack was then as up to his neck in icky sexual scandal as the rest of the men in the place, so he was also forced to keep a lid on that aforementioned cesspit lest his own stinking bit of dirty laundry be washed in public.
Despite this being a feature length show, I’d have happily watched parts two and three right away, however, I’ll just have to wait for next week’s episode. And it sounds like it’s going to be just as good…
In the penultimate episode of Single Handed, when a toddler is snatched from his home, Sergeant Jack Driscoll is handed charge of the investigation, three days after a county-wide search is scaled down.
As concern for the boy mounts, Jack’s shocked to discover that his new lover, Dr Maggie Hunter, has concealed information about the toddler’s parents, on the grounds of patient confidentiality…