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TV REVIEW: Accused - Saving The Best For Last

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The final of this season of Jimmy McGovern's Accused was a clever follow-up to last week's tale of modern-day Hamlet, and took us deep into the heart of the prison system.

Last week's convict Stephen Cartwright only lasted about 10 minutes into the episode, which is a shame, as actor Robert Sheehan is a magnetic presence on the screen and surely destined for Hollywood.

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Anna Maxwell Martin and Robert Sheen were top-calibre in the final episode of Accused

But this left the stage clear for Anna Maxwell Martin and Ewen Bremner as prison officers Tina and Frank to work out their own inner quandaries as to where their loyalties lay, to "the scum", to each other or, in Tina's case, to her family.

Writers McGovern and Isabelle Grey had the confidence not to over-write the dialogue, while the events built in their slow horror.

Jimmy McGovern has served his female actors particularly well this series. If Olivia Colman got BAFTA heads turning with her turn two weeks ago, she'll have stiff competition from Anna Maxwell Martin, whose post-traumatic stoicism was both unnerving and moving, as she struggled in vain to recover, self-sufficiently, from the atrocities that had been bestowed on her.

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There were no winners - Frank, Peter Cartwright, Tina - in this sad tale from within the prison system

But that isn't to ignore the brooding power of Bremner's Frank, a man horribly looking out for himself, but with fear, guilt written all over his face in the gaps between the menace, or John Bishop, scarcely recognisable as a man who usually plays for laughs.

With a fine cast of supporting players, it was the gavotte danced by Tina and Frank that carried the real power of the piece to a properly unpredictable outcome, and how joyful it was when she committed career hari-kari and freed another young con - it might not have been justice, but it felt like something approaching honour, and a fitting finale to a fine series.

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