Falling

Cad habits kill true love - Daily Express; March 7, 2005; Simon Edge

In the film Groundhog Day, pock-faced Bill Murray won gorgeous Andie MacDowall by living the same day so often that he learned what made her tick.

In Falling (Sunday, ITV1) Michael Kitchen didn't have that advantage. When he set his sights on Penelope Wilton, he just broke into her house and read her diary.

Kitchen played a well-spoken conman called Henry, while Wilton was Daisy, author of novels about intelligent women who choose the wrong men.

Henry was about as wrong as they come, but what made Daisy's affair with him plausible was that he was very nearly Mr Gobsmackingly Right.

He cooked, he cleaned, he mowed the lawn, he had a tongue of honey, and he knew what to do with the rest of his anatomy too. Andrew Davies' wily script, from a novel by Elizabeth Jane Howard, left just enough room for us to believe that Henry might come good in the end.

After all, even a conman can fall in love, and even a compulsive liar has to tell the truth occasionally.

Perhaps Henry's tendency to lurk behind walls and read letters not addressed to him could be overlooked, given that he was such a dab hand with a duster. And if he had a chip on his shoulder about his humble origins, didn't he have good reason?

We were kept guessing until well into the home straight, when a couple of flashbacks showed Henry pummelling one ex-wife and driving his car at another.

This finally confirmed him as Mr Disastrously Wrong, and then we were left chewing our nails to find out if he had done poor Daisy in.

Fortunately, Daisy, with her long track record of picking blackguards, had become quite good at sending them packing.

Wilton was magnificent - when isn't she? - but what marked this out as top-notch drama was Kitchen's utterly compelling turn as the silky-smooth rogue who has lost sight of where truth ends and con begins. "Don't you trust me?" he asked anyone who showed signs of doubting him, making big spaniel eyes.

It made them melt every time, and if he isn't nominated for a Bafta, I'll eat my keyboard.

It was also nice to see that Andrew Davies, master of the historical bodice-ripper, is just as happy for naked flesh to come tumbling out of modern costumes.

In fact, he was so keen to live up to his reputation for rolls in the hay that all the nookie took place in a barn.