DVD: The Promise (15)

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The Independent Culture

Peter Kosminsky's hefty four-part drama made for unlikely Sunday-night telly: The Promise tackles the Israel Palestinian conflict, both from a 1946 and a 2005 perspective. The drama's grip on the tangled political situation pulls no punches – this is complicated, painful stuff. We follow two young Brits, who struggle in their own ways, in their own times, to do the right thing in the face of an impossible conflict and conflicting loyalties.

In 2005, we have Claire Foy (Little Dorrit) as Erin, a stroppy teen who picks up her dying grandfather's diary. She takes it as holiday reading when following her friend to her wealthy family's home in Israel. The diary, of course, provides the flashback format: Erin's grandfather, Len – the startlingly vulnerable Christian Cooke – was a British soldier stationed in Palestine from 1946 till the founding of the State of Israel in 1948. While the cutting between the two strands is well-managed, the narrative device of the diary becomes ridiculous; you'd think Erin might finish reading the thing a tad quicker. But, overall, The Promise really delivers, combining a satisfying storyline with political issues so thorny it's a wonder they are made graspable. Kosminsky has crafted an emotionally tense and frankly educational programme, which manages to avoid feeling like political tubthumping or a history lecture.