Eels and extramarital intrigue dominate My Mother and Other Strangers episode 2

The beguilingly slow-moving Second World War drama has captured the heart of Ben Dowell. And it looks like Hattie Morahan’s Rose feels the same way about Aaron Staton’s US airman...

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“It’s where I live and these are my people now,” declares Hattie Morahan’s Rose, the mother and heroine of My Mother and Other Strangers, BBC1’s beguilingly gentle Sunday-night drama.

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Her words get short shrift from her husband, Owen McDonnell’s gruff publican Michael Coyne – who feels (understandably perhaps) a little patronised.

But we see what she means when she stands up for the local fishermen (or rather poachers) when one of them is hauled before the courts in the central moment of tonight’s episode two…

The locals are not allowed to fish for the eels that swarm the waters round their homes, you see.They still do, though, the joke being that what they are catching are actually perch even though their haul always consists of slippery little creatures that are all about two foot long, very slender and well, delicious. If you have ever eaten perch (and I have) you can probably get why they find their joke so funny…

Anyway, one of the poachers got caught tonight, the rather unpleasant Davey Hanlon, but (English) Rose, who is no friend of Davey or his family, stood up to defend him in court.

Her impassioned speech in mitigation of their activities was stirring and cemented her place as the heroine of this drama. But quite why she and Michael are married still remains something of a mystery to me.

He clearly doesn’t seem to know or understand his wife and, despite their protestations of love, do not appear to have much of a spark or a connection at all. It is one of the most vexing aspects of the show.

For the most part, though, it was all rather lovely and satisfying. Events don’t move very quickly here in Moybeg on the edge of the Lough, and nor would we want them to. Just sit back and enjoy the foreboding autumn palettes.

Although Barney, the simple-minded labourer whose heart is utterly smitten with Michael and Rose’s bookish daughter Emma (Eileen O’Higgins, below), would like things to quicken up a bit as far as she is concerned. But he clearly doesn’t have a chance. Last week she entranced a US airman from the nearby base, so clearly she has something about her.

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Poor Barney’s hapless attempt to try and read Aldous Huxley to impress a girl who regards him with little more than pity and an affection which really IS patronising was quite affecting. As was her disappointment when the dashing young medical student son of the local doctor flirted with her before scarpering back to his studies in Dublin.

But we all know where things are headed don’t we? Michael and Rose are at odds, and Aaron Staton’s liaison officer (Captain Ronald Dreyfuss) is making just about every attempt he can to see her and talk literature and probably other things too.

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Where Barney is failing with Emma, Ronnie is clearly getting somewhere with Rose – and books are once again the key. I reckon they’ll be snogging by episode 3, or those long fish hauled from the drink really are perch after all…

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