Last Night’s TV – The Street

eddie, sandra, the street

Sadly, this was the last episode of The Street, and it would appear that Jimmy McGovern has no plans to pen another series, given that it can’t be filmed in its historical home at Granada Studios.

The studios were axed as part of cost cutting measures, but it was a stroke too far for McGovern who told BBC’s Radio 4 ‘Front Row’ programme that he wouldn’t be interested in producing the drama elsewhere.

He said, “It’s finished now because ITV have closed down that drama unit. I’m sure that’s why Michael Grade left, because it was a content-led revival, he said, and they’ve closed down the producers of the best content.”

When asked why he wouldn’t allow filming at alternative studios, McGovern said, “I wouldn’t want to. It belonged there [at ITV Studios]. All the people have gone.

“You live and breathe with people you walk into busy rooms and see people working hard, the casting, the make up the wardrobe even the receptionists, and the next minute they are all gone.

“It’s so sad – one of the best dramas ITV has ever made and it’s gone.”

Amen to that.

The Street is exceptional on many fronts; it’s not just well written, its stellar cast transport it from the realms of bog-standard TV fare into something for the real connoisseur, yet it appeals to a wide demographic because of the believability and relevance of the characters and storylines.

And last night’s final offering was one of the best. I guess McGovern adheres to the rule about going out on a high, and in devoting this last show to the chameleon like talents of Timothy Spall, McGovern, yet again, got it just right.

We’ve seen Spall’s character, Eddie, periodically throughout most of the episodes – probably more than any other actually – and last night, we witnessed him in devastatingly good form as he parlayed the tale of the hapless Eddie into something so humanly real and relatable, he ought to win a bag load of awards.

Eddie isn’t anything special, and that’s what makes him special. You’d pass Eddie on the street and forget about him thirty seconds later. He’s the bloke who’s perennially in the pub but nobody knows his name. He’s the bloke who fashion left behind and who needs a decent haircut… a nobody. We all know lots of them, but guess what? Nobodies have tragedies too, just like everyone else.

We saw last night how Eddie’s colleague, the sad and lonely Sandra – brilliantly played by Ruth Jones and very far removed from her Nessa persona – made a significant play for him and, out of politeness, he ended up sleeping with her.

Yes, I understand that sleeping with someone out of politeness and pity isn’t your run of the mill reason for putting your marriage on the line, but when it’s Eddie, you can believe it to be the case.

He’s mild mannered, unassuming, has low self-esteem and is hugely sensitive. And because of that, he ended up in bed with Sandra while his missus, Margie, was frantic with worry when he didn’t come home. However, he didn’t realise she was at home, given that she’d stormed off to care for her cruel father – against his own and Eddie’s wishes – but when Daddy Dearest typed out a cruel letter to her, Margie had had enough and she went home.

So, when Eddie finally got home the next day, he was horrified to see the police there and a worried Margie began demanding to know where he’d been. Being unable to tell and sustain a lie, Eddie later told Margie the truth about Sandra as they sat together in an Indian restaurant. Not unreasonably, Margie was furious and stormed off to that traditional bastion of female refuge when out for the night, the loos.

There she immediately went into an anger induced asthma attack, and, desperately searching her bag, she realised she didn’t have her inhaler. Horribly tense moments passed in seeing her trying to move air while grappling with the lock on the door. By that time, Eddie had come looking for her, clutching her inhaler as a peace offering.

When finally he realised what was happening, he shinned over the cubicle wall and stroked Margie’s hair as she became cyanosed and took her last, frantic breath on the floor of the loo.

What followed were scenes that would force a tear from the eye of a scarecrow as Eddie had to explain his role in their mother’s death to his kids and endure the agony of Margie’s funeral. If you missed this episode, even if you haven’t seen any others in the series, I’d highly recommend you watch it, which you can do here, on BBC’s iPlayer.

It’s so sad that there will be no more visits to Britain’s other best loved Street, and it’s even sadder that money’s at the heart of depriving us, the viewing public, of that most rare of commodities, a drama that’s actually thought provoking and worth watching every single second of.

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.