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Jake's Progress

Brian Viner
Night & Day


Jake's Progress (Channel 4, Thursday) is Alan Bleasdale's riveting story of an emotionally disturbed six-year-old, devoted to his playful but irresponsible dad (Robert Lindsay) but at odds with his sensible mum (Julie Walters), who has fogotten how to deal with him. Episode one started as an ordinary tale of domestic disharmony and ended as The Omen, with Jake fantasising about killing his newly-arrived baby brother.

The part of Jake is marvelously played by eight-year-old Barclay Wright, last seen though not by many as Prince Harry in Sky's epic Diana: Her True Story. And the Bleasdale repertory company of Lindsay, Walters, and Lindsay Duncan as a wacky, palm-reading family friend, are all on fine form, perhaps better equipped to pull off the comic sequences than the tragic ones, but it's early days. Besides, for my money, Bleasdale is the best writer for television there is, and was may the telly gods spare me even before Dennis Potter died.

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