REVIEW: Sherwood shines a light on feuding communities and offers a masterful crime drama with a local focus

From the first brooding aerial camera sweeps over Annesley Woods to footage of Arthur Scargill rousing the masses and picket line clashes with police, Sherwood had me hooked from the start.

By Andy Done-Johnson
Tuesday, 14th June 2022, 10:01 pm

It also puts the audience right at the heart of 30 years worth of bad blood in the community before an actor can utter a single line.

Sherwood’s background is not just the Miners’ Strike, it’s Nottinghamshire’s Miners’ Strike, masterfully penned by Ashfield’s James Graham.

When I spoke to him last week, he said it would have been very easy for another writer to come in, use this background and the historical murders on which this six-part drama is loosely based and ‘walk all over it’, without any sympathy for the communities still living with the aftermath of the year-long dispute all those decades ago.

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David Morrissey as Ian St.Clair and Robert Glenister in Sherwood

Graham doesn’t do that; he explores the divide skilfully – always sympathetic, always respectful to the people still living in silent conflict, something seemingly forgotten by many of the younger characters.

In a nutshell, former striking miner and NUM stalwart Gary Jackson (Alun Armstrong) is shot dead with an arrow as he returns from the welfare.

Shortly afterwards, a train is shot at with another arrow from the seclusion of woodland.

Suspicion soon falls on the notorious Sparrow family, but when the dead miner’s solicitor is shot at while father and son are being interrogated, the case is blown wide open.

Meanwhile, bereaved husband Andy Fisher (Adeel Akhtar) is struggling to come to terms with the marriage of his son Neel (Bally Gill) to aspiring Tory politician Sarah Vincent (Downton Abbey’s Joanne Froggatt) – not for her politics, more the new power and influence she holds over the family. It is a tension that soon leads to tragedy.

Career copper and local lad Detective Chief Superintendent Ian St Clair (David Morrissey) is put in charge of the investigation, but the probe soon digs up a blast from his own past and may suggest his own murky links the the 1984-5 conflict.

Morrissey, as ever, is superb, as is Froggatt as the unlikeable Sarah. But it’s an ensemble effort from a supporting cast of familiar faces that makes it shine.

Is the Robin Hood imagery too much? Maybe. But it’s called Sherwood . . . so why not?

The first two episodes of Sherwood are now available on BBC iPlayer. The show continues on BBC One on Monday and Tuesday for the next two weeks.

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