The Virtues

Series 1 - Episode 1

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Review

New series Stephen Graham gave us the big TV surprise of the year so far when his Line of Duty character John Corbett came to a grisly end. And here, we get shocks of a different kind as he reunites with longtime collaborator Shane Meadows to play recovering alcoholic Joseph, who’s holding on to life in Sheffield by his fingernails as he faces the prospect of losing the one thing he holds dear.

It’s a brutal opening episode, unsparing in its depiction of a crash off the wagon: we’re talking blood, retching, vomit, the full works. At times, it feels almost like a documentary, as though Joseph is a real man having his actions tracked by hidden cameras. But reminders that this is drama come thanks to glimpses of his childhood in Ireland. Hazily filmed flashbacks hint at a long-buried secret and, by the end of the hour, Joseph has reached a decision about where his future lies. Despite the grim tone, you’ll want to join him on that journey in order to catch the whole of Graham’s blindingly good performance.

Summary

Recovering alcoholic Joseph falls into despair when his ex Debbie decides to move to Australia in a bid to start a new life, and takes their nine-year-old son Shea with her. Joseph decides to walk away from his present life and boards a boat bound for Ireland to confront hazy, fear-inducing memories from a childhood spent in the care system. Drama co-written and directed by Shane Meadows, starring Stephen Graham, Helen Behan and Niamh Algar.

Cast & Crew

Joseph Stephen Graham
Debbie Juliet Ellis
Shea Shea Michael-Shaw
David Vauxhall Jermaine
Bish Stuart Wolfenden
Landlord Tom Davis
Pub singer Meisha Leake
Preacher Delroy Hall
Sam Michael Starke
Director Shane Meadows
Producer Nickie Sault
Series Producer Mark Herbert
Writer Shane Meadows
Writer Jack Thorne
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Drama