Without Sin is one of the tantalising new dramas helping launch the newly styled ITV X. Just when we thought we’d seen every gritty domestic story there is to tell, we’re treated to a gripping four parter starring Nottingham-girl-done-very-good, Vicky McClure, and her previous This is England collaborator, Johnny Harris. Written by Frances Poletti (astonishingly, her television debut), the story follows Stella, a mother whose daughter, Maisie, was brutally murdered by a local wrong’un. Trying to come to terms with her daughter’s death, Stella visits Maisie’s murderer, Charles, in prison and a startling revelation sends Stella’s world into a spin.
The series was shot in Nottingham with fantastic aerial footage of the Old Market Square and a wonderfully cheeky scene shot by the famous left lion outside the Council House. As a Nottingham resident, it was hard to concentrate on the plot at times whilst beadily trying to recognise where the cast were filming. It is so refreshing to watch an excellent drama such as this with a well known cast being recorded outside of London or Manchester. The narrative didn’t necessarily have any connection to the area; it could have been shot anywhere in the country. Usually when shooting in regional parts of the UK it’s due to the location being an integral part of the story but Nottingham is proved to simply be a great city to film a great series. Hopefully this will put our town on the map in terms of future mainstream projects for the big channels.
McClure is, as ever, excellent as the lead. She’s no stranger to playing complex characters thrown into dramatic situations. She has the ability to convey a woman in deep emotional crisis without over doing it; her performance is subtle, nuanced and real. Harris is brilliantly deceptive in this role; we’re left wondering until the end which side he’s on whilst we watch him desperately confront his demons both physically and mentally. A great many characters in the series are played by members of The Television Workshop, the Nottingham acting group McClure attended during her teens and the platform which helped launch her career.
Without Sin is a twisty, layered tale which explores the grief of a parent losing a child, the breaking down of relationships following extreme trauma and the desperate actions of those seeking truth, justice and forgiveness. A must watch whether you recognise the Cornerhouse in the background or not.