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It’s fair to say that anything graced by Stephen Graham is likely to be a must watch. In a career that’s spanned his breakthrough role as Compo in This Is England to Al Capone in Boardwalk Empire right through to The Virtues and Line of Duty, he’s rarely picked a dud production to be part of.
The same goes for Sean Bean, finding fame in Sharpe in the ‘90s, where he played a fictional soldier in the Napoleonic wars. Hollywood soon came calling and he went on to star in Patriot Games, Ronin and then the Lord of The Rings trilogy, where he found his natural home in the fantasy realm, which led to his now iconic part as Ned Stark in Game of Thrones.
And now, *dramatic movie voiceover* For the first time in history, the two legends of the screen will unite in Time, the gritty BBC prison drama by Jimmy McGovern. Actually, if we’re splitting hairs, it’ll be the second time these best-of-British actors will share screen time, as they previously starred in the 2012 drama, Accused, which was also penned by McGovern. However, rather than just a stand-alone episode, Time will be a whole, meaty three-parter that looks at the bleak realities of life in prison, and the power struggles within the jail.
As these two acting world giants get ready to go head-to-head in one of the year’s most anticipated dramas, here’s everything we know so far about the series so far.
What’s the big idea?
Let’s not beat around the bush: it’s heavy from the off. The synopsis says: “Seen through the eyes of two very different men, Time is a visceral and high-stakes portrayal of life in the modern British penal system. It is a story of guilt and forgiveness, punishment and penitence and the impact that prison has on all those who pass through it.” Phew.
Who do Graham and Bean play in the series?
The men (described by McGovern as “two of the greatest actors on the planet”) each cover both sides of the prison system: prisoner and prison officer. But, things aren’t quite as clear cut as that, as they’re both struggling with their positions in jail.
We last saw Graham on screen getting his throat sliced for being “a rat” - an undercover cop in a gang in Line of Duty. He’s flipped to the other side again now, and plays Eric McNally, a prison officer, who looks to be a decent enough bloke. That’s until one of the prisoners discovers a compromising secret that puts his family in danger - how far will he go to protect them?
Bean is the one doing time, playing the permanently shell-shocked teacher Mark Cobden, who can’t believe he’s found himself in prison. But it transpires he’s killed an innocent man, and he’s eaten up with guilt as it was an accident. There’s some proper watching-through-your-fingers moments as Cobden navigates the brutal prison system and the people trapped within it. Let’s just say you might want to pass on a cup of tea with extra sugar.
What do the actors say about the production?
It’s a luvvie-in, of course. Stephen Graham says: “It is an absolute honour to be working with Jimmy again, I’m feeling blessed. I can’t wait to get stuck in. Of course, I am made up to be back on set with Sean.”
Sean Bean says: “Getting to be involved in a Jimmy McGovern drama again is a real privilege and it will be great to be reunited with Stephen. Mark Cobden is another of Jimmy’s complex and superbly written characters and I am looking forward to bringing him to life on screen.”
Is there a 'Time' trailer?
Why, yes there is:
What's the 'Time' release date?
It’s being blasted on to your telly box on Sunday 6 June at 9pm on BBC One. Until then, you’ll just have to bide your….Time. Sorry.
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