The basis of good drama, according to my English teacher many winters ago, is conflict: with something like nature or another person or even racism.
Atticus Finch was lucky, though. He could struggle against the backwards attitudes of America’s Deep South trusting his own internal compass. He was steady, sensible and kind.
Sometimes conflict in drama comes from battling yourself. The I Am anthology series has returned to Channel 4 for a second run and if you haven’t seen the first go back and watch Line Of Duty’s Vicky McClure struggle with a coercive relationship.
Lesley Manville and Letitia Wright have added two more episodes to the I Am series and both put in valuable, vibrant performances.
It’s Suranne Jones, in I Am Victoria, which will remain with you, though. The former Coronation Street actress has talked about her own struggles with anxiety and she channels that as a woman wrestling with her own expectations.
Victoria has a perfect home but her pristine white walls are a crucible in which she feels blistering pressure.
Tight camera angles put you right under the same mental pressure of her anxiety-riddled perfectionist; I found myself adopting the same rictus expression as she lost grip of maintaining her own expectations.
Sometimes the conflict is of your own, painful creation. This is good drama.
I Am Victoria, Channel 4, All4
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