Black Work, TV review: There are only so many close-ups of Sheridan Smith a director can use before we hit the remote

The lack of any other interesting characters is also pretty noticeable

Ellen E. Jones
Sunday 21 June 2015 12:41 BST
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Sheridan Smith as Jo Gillespie in Black Work
Sheridan Smith as Jo Gillespie in Black Work (STUART WOOD AND DES WILLIE)

Sheridan Smith is one of the hardest-working actresses on British television, so it’s almost heartening to discover that she still finds time to make middling ITV thriller mini-series like Black Work. With her hair apparently still growing out from when she played a cancer patient in The C Word last month, Smith stars as Jo Gillespie, a police officer who faces crises both personal and professional when her husband is killed during a mysterious undercover operation.

Gillespie’s suspiciously reasonable-sounding boss DCS Hepburn (Douglas Henshall) urged her to allow an assigned team space to investigate, but clearly he’d never seen a Sheridan Smith drama before. Sure enough, no sooner had she dropped the kids off with the mother-in-law than Jo was off on the search for her husband’s killer.

This wouldn’t be the first time a drama has been built entirely around Smith’s useful ability to get an audience rooting for her, but the lack of any other interesting characters is still noticeable. There are only so many close-ups of Smith’s face, bravely bearing up against hardship, that a director can deploy before our hands begin itching for the remote.

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