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Jake's Progress

Stephen Pile
TV Week, The Daily Telegraph

 

Omnibus (BBC1, Monday) concluded its two-part study of Gore Vidal with the decorous American novelist bidding a languid farewell to the camera. Television, he said contemptuously, is neither particularly good nor bad. "It is just television. There's nothing to choose. It just goes."

Perhaps he is not acquainted with the outstanding terrestrial service still provided in the United Kingdom against all the odds? No-one who saw the second instalment of Jake's Progress (C4, Thursday), for example, could ever say such an ignorant thing. In week two it deepened and darkened and confirmed the early impression that here is a major piece of work. Alan Bleasdale has seen more clearly than anyone else the modern tragedy that unfolds when the golden Me Generation has everything taken away due to economic collapse.

Harsh reality is closing in (I am not telling you the plot. Get tapes and watch it yourself. This is required viewing.) The fatal flaw in this tragedy is stress and finance-related and would not have occurred to Shakespeare. Behaviour and morality are being corroded before our eyes and every line of this superbly crafted work hits home. It does not "just go". It seizes and affects anyone who cares to watch.

 
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