Sean Bean defends new BBC show Marriage and slams ‘boring’ police dramas in joint interview with co-star Nicola Walker… who famously starred as a detective in ITV hit Unforgotten
Sean Bean made an awkward faux pas as he did his best to defend his new BBC drama Marriage, which has been met with a very mixed reaction.
The actor was appearing in a joint interview with his Marriage co-star Nicola Walker, when he slammed ‘boring’ police dramas, despite one of Nicola’s most famous role being in ITV detective smash hit Unforgotten.
Sean and Nicola’s new show has been criticised by some viewers for its slow pace, despite rave reviews from critics.
New drama: Sean Bean made an awkward faux pas as he did his best to defend his new BBC drama Marriage, which has been met with a very mixed reaction (picture in the show with Nicola Walker)
The Mirror report that while speaking in a recent Q&A with Nicola and director Stefan Golaszewski, Sean was keen to point out that Marriage is a departure from a lot of dramas currently on screen.
‘I am bored of watching a lot of programmes these days, especially about detectives,’ he said,
‘I don’t know why people always making a story about detectives and police. They are so boring. I hate reading detective novels too.’
Not a fan: The actor was appearing in a joint interview with his Marriage co-star Nicola Walker, when he slammed ‘boring’ police dramas, despite Nicola’s most famous role being in ITV detective smash hit Unforgotten (Walker in Unforgotten with co-star Sanjeev Bhaskar)
Sean added: ‘Almost all the characters end up repeating themselves and telling the next guy what just happened. It is just the same old kind of structure.’
But Nicola, who played DCI Cassie Stewart in Unforgotten. appeared to see the funny side as she was seen laughing and mouthing ‘it’s me’ during her co-star’s critique.
BBC One drama Marriage has received rave reviews from critics – but as the first episode aired this week, viewers were not so sure.
Mixed reaction: Sean and Nicola’s new show has been criticised by some viewers for its slow pace, despite rave reviews from critics
In the drama which airs on Sunday nights Walker and Bean look at the pitfalls of a long relationship between characters Emma and Ian – who are bonded by a terrible event that they seldom refer to.
Despite four and five star ratings across the board, a seemingly discontented audience took to Twitter to brand the programme ‘boring’ and ‘awful’.
The four-part drama was dubbed ‘brilliant’ by the Daily Mail’s Christopher Stevens.
Slow: In the drama which airs on Sunday nights Walker and Bean look at the pitfalls of a long relationship between characters Emma and Ian
While many viewers praised Sean for being a good actor otherwise, some claimed he was ‘mumbling’ throughout the episode and they couldn’t understand him
Writing about the first episode, he said: ‘The story of Emma and Ian is somehow utterly absorbing. What a pleasure it can be to peek into lives more like our own.’
The Guardian also sung its praises, describing Stefan Golaszewski’s creation as ‘pitch perfect’.
But as viewers tuned in for episode one they were not in agreement.
One person wrote: ‘What am I actually watching? Am I just not getting something?
‘It’s like watching paint dry, is that the point? Great actors but it’s really really bad.’
Another viewer, who had tried to give the programme a fair chance, said there would be better entertainment checking out their own back garden.
Viewers were not happy with the first episode of the BBC drama and claimed they had wasted their time on it
BBC One’s Marriage: What the critics said
The Daily Mail
Christopher Stevens praised the BBC for acknowledging ‘the people of Middle England’.
He hailed the normality of the programme, which depicts a couple living in an ordinary house and living an ordinary life.
‘Laughs are sparse in Marriage, though you’ll find a few hidden gems,’ Stevens acknowledged.
However he suggested the ‘sadness’ of mundane lives is what makes Marriage such compelling viewing.
He wrote: ‘Life’s like that, of course – our unique sorrows are incomprehensible to outsiders, however wearily commonplace they are to us.’
Stevens added: ‘The story of Emma and Ian is somehow utterly absorbing. What a pleasure it can be to peek into lives more like our own.#
Rebecca Nicholson wrote that Stefan Golaszewski’s drama was about ‘finding wry humour in the mundane reality of a long-term relationship’.
She encouraged the reader to ‘trust in the writing’ as the storyline unfolded slowly with long periods of no dialogue at all.
‘You have to hold out your hand and be willing to be led, believing that it will take you somewhere you want to go,’ she said.
Praising the writing as ‘cleverly done’ and reflecting the ‘realism’ of everyday married life, she said the characters converse while staying silent.
Nicholson agreed the viewer might feel a bit bored throughout the hour-long episode and said there were even bits of uncomfortable viewing. However she insisted ‘that is the point’.
Dan Einav praised the BBC One drama for confronting its audience with ‘real life’ in its ‘disarming, unvarnished fidelity’.
He acknowledged that most of the first episode reflects everything you would come to expect from the lives of people who have been married for three decades.
However he also said the episode was not comfortable viewing, with the audience often feeling like they are ‘intruding on the privacy’ of the couple.
He described one scene as ‘agonising’ and ‘drawn out’ and agrees that the absence of communication ‘is the show’s preoccupation’.
Einav said: ‘Tender moments provide some levity to a series that, for all its authenticity, can feel a bit stifling and drab.’
James Hibbs also acknowledged that Marriage is not a high-octane drama that will have viewers on the edge of their seat, but agreed with others that it is not supposed to be so.
He argued the drama, which he described as ‘delightful’, was more about the characters themselves than the storyline.
Hibbs praised the writing from Golaszewski, whom he described as a ‘maestro at this sort of intricate character work’.
While the plot itself is not necessarily compelling, Hibbs said: ‘It’s the small moments between the couple which breathe life into the series’
They wrote: ‘I’ve given it 25 minutes. If there’s nothing else on I could always watch my own back gate security camera – might be more entertaining.’
It seemed many people tried to carry on with the programme in the hope it would begin to capture their attention.
But according to many Twitter users, the moment never came.
One person said: ‘What the f*** have I just watched.
‘That’s one hour of my life I’ll never get back. Kept it on in the hope it was going to pick up…’
For the most part viewers agreed the actors were not the problem, rather the script itself.
One woman said: ‘I love Nicola Walker but this is so boring!’
And one viewer felt so put out by having spent an hour of his life watching the programme he joked he should receive ‘compensation’ for giving up his time.
Many people stuck with the programme in the hope it might pick up eventually, but they were left disappointed
As the jokes rolled in, one Twitter user said he wanted to ‘report a robbery’ and accused the BBC of ‘stealing an hour’ of his time with the first episode.
While many people thought Walker and Bean were good actors cast in a bad programme, other more scathing viewers argued their performances were sub-par.
Viewers claimed they couldn’t understand Sean Bean because he was ‘mumbling’ throughout the programme.
One viewer wrote: ‘I’ve turned the volume to deafening – can’t make out the mumbling.
‘Sean Bean looks embarrassed as if he wishes he was somewhere else. So do I.
‘This is painful. And a waste of my time.’
At long last! A brilliant BBC drama about normal people: Marriage might be everyday stuff, but it delivers a frisson of shock too, writes CHRISTOPHER STEVENS
Do not adjust your set. Emma and Ian are ordinary people – and, whisper it, they’re starring in a BBC drama.
They drive an eight-year-old Ford Focus. Loading the dishwasher is a nightly ritual they could do blindfolded.
They holiday on the Costa del Sol, but stick to ‘normal restaurants’.
There are millions like them. These are the people of Middle England – the mainstay of the nation. But the Beeb drama department rarely acknowledges their existence.
Couples in prime-time serials are expected to have bifold doors opening onto landscaped gardens with firepits and off-road parking.
Where’s the designer fridge? The marble-topped island? Where’s the wine rack? Is that a bedroom without an ensuite bathroom? Am I really watching THE BBC?
The only hint of fantasy in this depiction of suburban life is the casting. Emma is played by Nicola Walker and Sean Bean is Ian.
I suspect almost every British woman of a certain age, however posh, would settle for a lifetime of holidays in Torremolinos if it meant sharing a bed with Sean.
In BBC1’s Marriage, Emma is played by Nicola Walker (left) and Sean Bean is Ian (right)
The likes of Emma and Ian are usually seen only in sitcoms such as Two Doors Down.
It’s telling that Marriage is written by Stefan Golaszewski, best-known for the poignant comedy Mum, starring Lesley Manville.
Laughs are sparse in Marriage, though you’ll find a few hidden gems.
In one wordless vignette, as the pair watched TV, Ian tipped his slippers off and stretched his toes.
His wife said nothing, just a sideways flick of the eyes. But it was enough. Like a draught under the door, he felt the disapproval and wriggled his slippers back on.
It was a perfect evocation of a relationship so close that each one knows what the other will say before they’ve opened their mouths.
But, despite the love that wraps around them like a duvet, there is a lot of tension in this marriage.
In the opening scene, at an airport restaurant on their way home from Spain, they seemed to be arguing over nothing.
Ian fancied a jacket potato, but Emma came back with chips. And the sachets of ketchup were 30 cents each.
That was enough to set off sniping and recriminations all the way to the gate and onto the plane.
By the time the seatbelt signs came on they were hissing f-words at each other.
As the layers of their marriage slowly peeled back, it became clear that they were returning to a home stacked high with the debris of old problems.
It’s all terribly sad and sadder still for being so mundane. Life’s like that, of course – our unique sorrows are incomprehensible to outsiders, however wearily commonplace they are to us.
It’s telling that Marriage is written by Stefan Golaszewski, best-known for the poignant comedy Mum, starring Lesley Manville
Some of their mess was predictable. Ian doesn’t have a job – he’s been made redundant, and the holiday came out of his pay-off.
His working day now consists of picking up litter, watering the rhododendrons and lurking at the gym, trying to strike up conversations.
Emma is a solicitor, but in a shabby, two-room business above a shop, not a high-energy City firm with glamorous clients.
A running joke about her new jacket, bought at a discount online, seems like a deliberate dig at Walker’s character and her power suits in the much more opulent BBC drama The Split.
Other sources of strain well up from deeper, darker crevices. Neither Emma nor Ian – nor their grown-up daughter Jessica – is able to talk about a terrible bereavement.
Again, this is not made explicit but we guess the couple have lost their son as they sit in the cemetery, lost in grief, and then walk back to the car making the smallest of small talk – should they get a packet of peanuts for Jessica’s homecoming or is it worth the extra quid to buy cashews?
It might be everyday stuff, but it delivers a frisson of shock too.
We spend so much of our lives in front of the box, but this time it feels as though the TV is seeing us too.
The story of Emma and Ian is somehow utterly absorbing. What a pleasure it can be to peek into lives more like our own.
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