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EntertainmentUnimpressed viewers slam 'boring' BBC One drama Marriage

Unimpressed viewers slam ‘boring’ BBC One drama Marriage

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BBC One drama Marriage has received rave reviews from critics – but as the first episode aired last night, viewers were not so sure.

Despite four and five star ratings across the board, a seemingly discontented audience took to Twitter last night to brand the programme ‘boring’ and ‘awful’.

The four-part drama, starring Nicola Walker and Sean Bean as married couple Emma and Ian, was dubbed ‘brilliant’ by the Daily Mail’s Christopher Stevens. 

Sean Bean and Nicola Walker star in new BBC1 drama Marriage, which aired its first episode on Sunday night

Sean Bean and Nicola Walker star in new BBC1 drama Marriage, which aired its first episode on Sunday night

While many viewers praised Sean Bean for being a good actor otherwise, some claimed he was 'mumbling' throughout the episode and they couldn't understand him

While many viewers praised Sean Bean for being a good actor otherwise, some claimed he was ‘mumbling’ throughout the episode and they couldn’t understand him 

Writing about the first episode, he said: ‘The story of Emma and Ian is somehow utterly absorbing. What a pleasure it can be to peek into lives more like our own.’

The Guardian also sung its praises, describing Stefan Golaszewski’s creation as ‘pitch perfect’. 

But as viewers tuned in for episode one they were not in agreement. 

One person wrote: ‘What am I actually watching? Am I just not getting something? 

‘It’s like watching paint dry, is that the point? Great actors but it’s really really bad.’

Another viewer, who had tried to give the programme a fair chance, said there would be better entertainment checking out their own back garden.

Viewers were not happy with the first episode of the BBC drama and claimed they had wasted their time on it

Viewers were not happy with the first episode of the BBC drama and claimed they had wasted their time on it

They wrote: ‘I’ve given it 25 minutes. If there’s nothing else on I could always watch my own back gate security camera – might be more entertaining.’

It seemed many people tried to carry on with the programme in the hope it would begin to capture their attention. 

But according to many Twitter users, the moment never came.

One person said: ‘What the f*** have I just watched.

‘That’s one hour of my life I’ll never get back. Kept it on in the hope it was going to pick up…’ 

For the most part viewers agreed the actors were not the problem, rather the script itself.

One woman said: ‘I love Nicola Walker but this is so boring!’

And one viewer felt so put out by having spent an hour of his life watching the programme he joked he should receive ‘compensation’ for giving up his time.

Many people stuck with the programme in the hope it might pick up eventually, but they were left disappointed

Many people stuck with the programme in the hope it might pick up eventually, but they were left disappointed

As the jokes rolled in, one Twitter user said he wanted to ‘report a robbery’ and accused the BBC of ‘stealing an hour’ of his time with the first episode. 

While many people thought Walker and Bean were good actors cast in a bad programme, other more scathing viewers argued their performances were sub-par. 

Viewers claimed they couldn’t understand Sean Bean because he was ‘mumbling’ throughout the programme.

One viewer wrote: ‘I’ve turned the volume to deafening – can’t make out the mumbling.

‘Sean Bean looks embarrassed as if he wishes he was somewhere else. So do I.

‘This is painful. And a waste of my time.’

While promoting the new drama, Bean received backlash for his comments about intimacy coaches on film and TV sets.

He claimed the coaches, who coordinate sex scenes between actors, would ‘spoil the spontaneity’ of the performance.

But after the use of intimacy coaches was hailed in productions like I May Destroy You and Normal People, many people criticised Bean’s position.

Oscar-winning actress Emma Thompson said the coaches were ‘fantastically important’ to making actors feel comfortable on set.

She told Australian radio station Nova FM she said: ‘You might find that people go, “It made me feel comfortable, it made me feel safe, it made me feel as though I was able to do this work”.’

At long last! A brilliant BBC drama about normal people: Marriage might be everyday stuff, but it delivers a frisson of shock too, writes CHRISTOPHER STEVENS 

Marriage, BBC1, last night

Rating:

Do not adjust your set. Emma and Ian are ordinary people – and, whisper it, they’re starring in a BBC drama.

They drive an eight-year-old Ford Focus. Loading the dishwasher is a nightly ritual they could do blindfolded.

They holiday on the Costa del Sol, but stick to ‘normal restaurants’.

There are millions like them. These are the people of Middle England – the mainstay of the nation. But the Beeb drama department rarely acknowledges their existence.

Couples in prime-time serials are expected to have bifold doors opening onto landscaped gardens with firepits and off-road parking.

Where’s the designer fridge? The marble-topped island? Where’s the wine rack? Is that a bedroom without an ensuite bathroom? Am I really watching THE BBC?

The only hint of fantasy in this depiction of suburban life is the casting. Emma is played by Nicola Walker and Sean Bean is Ian.

I suspect almost every British woman of a certain age, however posh, would settle for a lifetime of holidays in Torremolinos if it meant sharing a bed with Sean.

In BBC1's Marriage, Emma is played by Nicola Walker (left) and Sean Bean is Ian (right)

In BBC1’s Marriage, Emma is played by Nicola Walker (left) and Sean Bean is Ian (right)

The likes of Emma and Ian are usually seen only in sitcoms such as Two Doors Down.

It’s telling that Marriage is written by Stefan Golaszewski, best-known for the poignant comedy Mum, starring Lesley Manville.

Laughs are sparse in Marriage, though you’ll find a few hidden gems.

In one wordless vignette, as the pair watched TV, Ian tipped his slippers off and stretched his toes.

His wife said nothing, just a sideways flick of the eyes. But it was enough. Like a draught under the door, he felt the disapproval and wriggled his slippers back on.

It was a perfect evocation of a relationship so close that each one knows what the other will say before they’ve opened their mouths.

But, despite the love that wraps around them like a duvet, there is a lot of tension in this marriage.

In the opening scene, at an airport restaurant on their way home from Spain, they seemed to be arguing over nothing. 

Ian fancied a jacket potato, but Emma came back with chips. And the sachets of ketchup were 30 cents each.

That was enough to set off sniping and recriminations all the way to the gate and onto the plane. 

By the time the seatbelt signs came on they were hissing f-words at each other.

As the layers of their marriage slowly peeled back, it became clear that they were returning to a home stacked high with the debris of old problems. 

It’s all terribly sad and sadder still for being so mundane. Life’s like that, of course – our unique sorrows are incomprehensible to outsiders, however wearily commonplace they are to us.

It's telling that Marriage is written by Stefan Golaszewski, best-known for the poignant comedy Mum, starring Lesley Manville

It’s telling that Marriage is written by Stefan Golaszewski, best-known for the poignant comedy Mum, starring Lesley Manville

Some of their mess was predictable. Ian doesn’t have a job – he’s been made redundant, and the holiday came out of his pay-off. 

His working day now consists of picking up litter, watering the rhododendrons and lurking at the gym, trying to strike up conversations.

Emma is a solicitor, but in a shabby, two-room business above a shop, not a high-energy City firm with glamorous clients.

A running joke about her new jacket, bought at a discount online, seems like a deliberate dig at Walker’s character and her power suits in the much more opulent BBC drama The Split.

Other sources of strain well up from deeper, darker crevices. Neither Emma nor Ian – nor their grown-up daughter Jessica – is able to talk about a terrible bereavement. 

Again, this is not made explicit but we guess the couple have lost their son as they sit in the cemetery, lost in grief, and then walk back to the car making the smallest of small talk – should they get a packet of peanuts for Jessica’s homecoming or is it worth the extra quid to buy cashews?

It might be everyday stuff, but it delivers a frisson of shock too.

We spend so much of our lives in front of the box, but this time it feels as though the TV is seeing us too. 

The story of Emma and Ian is somehow utterly absorbing. What a pleasure it can be to peek into lives more like our own.

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