Don't Ever Wipe Tears without Gloves, BBC4 - TV Review
Ellen E Jones
Ellen is The Independent's TV critic. She writes a daily review of Last Night's TV and a weekly 'Inside TV' column for the i paper, as well as a column on general topics for the main paper most Wednesdays. Ellen is a former Hollywood correspondent and a contributing editor to Little White Lies, she's written on TV, film, lifestyle, travel and politics for publications including the Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, Esquire and Total Film.
Tuesday 03 December 2013
As regular BBC4 viewers are assured, Scandinavian public television is dour crime thriller after dour crime thriller occasionally leavened by a po-faced episode of Borgen. Or is it? This latest Swedish import suggests there's a much richer variety of drama on offer.
Don't Ever Wipe Tears without Gloves is a three-parter about the impact of the Aids epidemic on 1980s Sweden (the title is taken from a warning one nurse gives to another in the opening scene). In this first episode, "Love", the narrative moved back and forth in time from the childhood of main character Rasmus (Adam Pålsson), to his life as a young man enjoying Stockholm's gay scene, to lonely vigil at his deathbed. Like the 2003, multiple Emmy-winning HBO series Angels in America, this drama's strength is how it manages to combine a sweeping sense of period with intimate portraits of individual characters.
Both the gay coming-of-age tale and the HIV epidemic epic have their own stock characters and Don't Ever Wipe Tears without Gloves was not original on this count. Rasmus was the 19-year-old ingénu, enjoying his new-found liberty after a closeted adolescence in rural Värmland. His parents could marvel at a rare albino elk, but seemed unable to view their son's sexuality as more evidence of nature's beautiful diversity. Paul (Simon J Berger) was the older, wiser, queenier gay man who takes Rasmus under his wing.
An alternative Christmas family gathering at Paul's was the perfect occasion to demonstrate Wildean wit over mulled wine: "Honestly! Cheap wine with raisins, and they call us perverts!" said Paul. It was also here that Rasmus met love of his life Benjamin (Adam Lundgren). They glanced at each other, sparks flew and later, in the snowy streets of Stockholm, they were allowed a brief romantic moment before all the misery to come: Episode two is titled "Disease" and episode three is "Death".
Game of Thrones
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Rules on 5p plastic bags likely to lead to arguments at the check-out
- 2 Hulk Hogan wants to be Donald Trump's running mate in the US Presidential election
- 3 Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night
- 4 News agency criticised for describing Amal Clooney as 'actor's wife' in coverage of human rights trial
X Factor hopeful Mason Noise: 'How is Cheryl Fernandez-Versini in the music business, let alone a judge?'
Game of Thrones season 6: Director promises most exciting premiere yet 'starts off with a bang'
Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Online toy marathon to launch new film
Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet: Technician quits after social media row with actor's fans
Evian Christ cancels Reading festival appearance after being 'trapped in a cage' at Leeds by staff
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up