i Editor's Letter: Outstanding drama

 

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The Independent Online

 

Like many in the i office, I have become absolutely addicted to the simply outstanding BBC4 Aussie drama series The Slap that is based on the even better book by Christos Tsiolkas. That was flagged up as "the first great Australian novel", and this may well be the first great Australian TV drama. It is a huge surprise to someone (me) who turned the air blue at the very idea. I think I was snobbishly expecting Neighbours.

Without spoiling it, because you can all catch up on the first six of the eight episodes via the BBC iPlayer, The Slap tells the story of how a closely-knit group of family and friends in Melbourne's big Greek-Australian community is torn apart when Harry, the macho cousin of Hector, whose 40th birthday party it is, slaps Hugo, the unruly young son of Hector's wife's old friend, during a game of backyard cricket gone wrong. As the friend, Rosie, then insists on pressing charges everyone must take sides – not least the viewer.

Each episode is told from the perspective of another of the richly drawn cast of characters, and the choreographed direction creates an oppressive feeling of the world closing in on the group. The Slap is that rare TV series that actually becomes more rewarding as you watch, even when you think you know the denouement.

Some Aussies (and Kiwis) I know tell me they can't bear to watch the show because it is "too close to home". But last Thursday night's episode about Manolis, the Greek family's patriarch, was poignant, provocative and surprising in its astute observations on the waning of the ageing human body in stark contrast to the greater wisdom that comes with experience. I shed a little tear. Bring on episode 7.

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