From There to Here, TV review: Manchester family saga won't revive happy memories


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The Independent Culture

How well do you remember the events of 1996 to 2000? But hazily, hopefully; otherwise your enjoyment of From There to Here, BBC1's new three-part family saga will be marred. Certainly, if you could recall the outcome of the England vs Germany Euro '96 semi-final, this first episode was a lot less suspenseful.

We were in Manchester, as you would have guessed from the Stone Roses soundtrack and the City vs United gags in the opening monologue. Daniel Cotton (Philip Glenister from Life on Mars) had invited his brother Robbo (Steven Mackintosh) to the pub. Robbo is an ageing hedonist in a seedy leather jacket, so it's no wonder he doesn't get on with the brothers' besuited, conservative father Samuel (Bernard Hill). In any case, Daniel's attempt at a reunion was a disaster, even before the bomb went off. That was the 1996 IRA bombing of Manchester's city centre, remember that?

Such a brush with death is supposed to make a person reconsider their priorities, but there was no guarantee that the new priorities would be an improvement. The Cotton family certainly didn't seem to grow any wiser in the aftermath of the bomb. Stubborn patriarch Samuel still refused to reconcile with Robbo, but did allow his grandson to convince him to incorporate some trendy new PFIs into the family sweet business.

Meanwhile, Robbo continued his reprobate ways by betting £10,000 of someone else's money on a football match and Daniel – supposedly the sensible one in the family – embarked on an affair with Joanne (Liz White), another survivor of the blast.

Daniel and Joanne's courtship was touching – especially if your hazy memory was also hazy on the subject of Daniel's wife – but there should been a lot more to enjoy in this personalised survey of recent British history. Unfortunately, From There to Here hasn't got here yet and Daniel's totally implausible transition from law-abiding family man, to criminal numpty can't be explained away as a midlife crisis. What kind of wally would try to defuse a bomb with no training and no equipment?