I’m a big fan of Martina Coles’ work and despite the fact that I have a pathological loathing of anything to do with the ‘80s and nostalgia from the period, the excellent performances by the cast of The Take kept me glued.
Most notably, Tom Hardy as the villain and antihero of the piece – Freddie – was mesmerising. Whoever was in charge of casting did an excellent job; Hardy’s not the most glamorous looking actor in the world but he was made to play Freddie. The temptation might have been to cast an actor who was rather more photogenic so as to increase the sexual attraction of the character, but in fact, Hardy is spot on.
He was utterly believable as the newly released ex-con who had no intention of going straight, and his on-screen menace was palpable. It made me want to shrink back from the screen while alternately hoping that if I ever met his character, he’d like me…
I hoped he’d like me more than he liked his own dad in fact who he dispatched to the great garden centre in the sky courtesy of a trowel in his own greenhouse. Actually, Freddie did a fair amount of dispatching last night and one of the most shocking of those came when the bloke for whom Freddie had “taken the rap”, and done time for, found his head firmly buried in his TV set. It came out of nowhere and made me physically jump. “He always wanted to be on TV” mused Freddie while neglecting to note he was more in it than on it.
The storyline so far is that on his release from prison into the much changed world of 1984, Freddie has to overcome a number of obstacles; professionally, he’s determined to become head gangster and personally, his marriage to the terminally miserable Jackie is at stake. Freddie’s fancies his sidekick – and cousin – Jimmy’s girlfriend, Maggie. Maggie, who’s Jackie’s sister, can’t resist her attraction to him either so trouble’s abrewing there methinks, especially given that Jackie has just had a baby. It’s a tangled ‘keep it in the family, roll your own’, sort of affair.
This adaptation of Cole’s novel moved at a frenetic – but not inappropriately so – pace last night and there were so many shocking but great scenes, it’s difficult to pinpoint just one as being especially noteworthy. However, on balance, I think the scene in which Jimmy talked a terrified bank manager into remembering the code to unlock the safe gave the piece a certain depth that was, up to that point, muted if not buried by the violence.
Casting Brian Cox as head-honcho Ozzy was a stroke of genius too; his ruling-the-manor-from-prison persona was again utterly believable and every word, every movement spoke of barely contained threat and unchallenged authority.
If I have any criticism of The Take so far it’s that there seems to be rather too much emphasis on constantly reminding us, the viewers, that it’s set in the ‘80s. The music, the telly playing in the background, the big hair and pushed up sleeves were accentuated a tad too often and were something of an annoying distraction from the story.
But other than that, bring on the remaining three parts! I just wish we didn’t have to wait between episodes.