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How does BBC One’s Us end – and how does it differ from David Nicholls’ novel?

BBC One's adaptation of Us follows a family on the holiday from hell - but how does the show end?

Us

BBC One’s Us, based on David Nicholls’ bestseller of the same name, follows the Peterson family as they embark on the holiday of a lifetime.

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However, the holiday also coincides with Connie (Saskia Reeves) asking her husband Douglas (Tom Hollander) for a divorce – before insisting that they continue with their European trip for the sake of their teenage son.

The book of the same name has a famously bittersweet ending – but did the BBC version of Us follow suit, or does it have a happier ending?

BBC One’s Us ending explained

Episode four of BBC One’s Us saw Douglas (Tom Hollander) catch up with his teenage son Albie (Tom Taylor) in Barcelona, following some helpful advice from busker Kat (Thaddea Graham).

The father and son duo have a confrontation – and Albie tearfully accuses Douglas of always preferring Jane (Douglas and Connie’s infant daughter who died) over him: “Christ, I’m not even your favourite child.”

Us
BBC

However, after a heartfelt apology from Douglas – who admits that he should have been a better father to Albie – they end up reconciling and going clubbing together in Barcelona. It’s here that Douglas finally realises that his son is gay, after clocking Albie flirting with a man at the bar. Father and son have a talk about Albie coming out to his mother, and Douglas seems pleased that he’s finally bonding with his son.

However, things take a dangerous turn when Douglas – who accidentally swims in jellyfish infested waters – has a heart attack, and is rushed to hospital for keyhole surgery.

Connie (Saskia Reeves) flies out to Spain, where she stays with Douglas for a fortnight while he recovers – but when they return to England, it’s clear that the old tensions and bad habits are still present (Douglas immediately criticises Connie for not cancelling their newspaper subscription when she rushed out to Spain), and they split up following one last night together.

Flash-forward to Albie’s university art showcase, and an amicable Douglas and Connie peer over their son’s “wonderful” photographs of none other than Douglas, whom Albie snapped when visiting him in hospital.

Us
BBC

The series ends with Douglas heading to the National Gallery in London, where he meets up with Freja (Sofie Gråbøl), the blunt Danish tourist whom he met earlier in the holiday. Kissing her and apologising for being late, it’s clear that the pair are now happily dating.

How is BBC’s Us series different from the book?

Throughout episode four of Us, there were hints that Douglas might suffer a heart attack. For example, he struggled to climb stairs in Barcelona, and was also clearly in pain when he and Albie rushed to catch the train to the Spanish coast.

However, in the book by David Nicholls, the reader learns that Douglas’ own father had had a heart attack – further foreshadowing Douglas’ own health scare.

The book also had a much more open-ended conclusion, with Douglas looking up Freja on the internet in the hopes of getting in contact with her (in the show, they’re a couple at the end of episode four).

Connie also has an affair in the book, reconnecting with an old flame – while in the series, the break-up between her and Douglas is still painful, but less messy and with no third parties involved.

The series also ended up cutting some key locations from the book. You can read our complete guide to where Us was filmed here.

You can buy Us by David Nicholls now.

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Us airs Sundays at 9pm on BBC One, with the series available in full on BBC iPlayer – check out what else is on with our TV Guide