4/5 The Telegraph
Directed by Sean Durkin
No. of series 1
First episode date 4 August 2013
Director Sean Durkin
Written by Tony Grisoni
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of episodes 4
Network Channel 4
|Executive producer(s) Peter Carlton
Cast Sean Harris, Rory Kinnear, Shirley Henderson, Kaya Scodelario, Joe Dempsie
Southcliffe trailer festival 2013
Southcliffe is a British drama series that aired on Channel 4. Set in a fictional town on the North Kent Marshes, it employs a nonlinear narrative structure to tell the story of a series of shootings by a local man portrayed by Sean Harris, the cause of these shootings, and the effects on the town and residents. The series explores tragedy, grief, responsibility, and redemption, as seen through the eyes of a journalist returning to the small town of his childhood to cover the story of the tragedy, and those closest to the victims of the tragedy.
- Southcliffe trailer festival 2013
- Awards and nominations
The series was filmed in Faversham in North Kent and was screened in the Special Presentation section at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.
In August 2012, Channel 4 announced that they had ordered a four-part drama series titled Southcliffe. The drama was written by Tony Grisoni and produced by Warp Films, with Peter Carlton and Sophie Gardiner serving as executive producers, and Sean Durkin as director.
The story is of a fictional English market town devastated by a spate of shootings which take place over a single day, 2 November 2011. According to its writer Grisoni, "Southcliffe is a fictional market town inhabited by fictional characters, but with similarities to many actual people and places in Britain today; invisible people, anonymous places." He added that "Southcliffe is an anthem to ordinary people's ability to reinvent themselves in the face of ultimate darkness." However, he denied that Southcliffe's central conceit is exploitative. "It's not really a story of a spree shooting. It's a story of people who are suddenly robbed of someone very close to them." He insisted that it is vitally important not to portray the shooter as a cartoon monster, but that he is a human being and should be treated as one.
Filming began in October 2012 in Faversham, on an eight-week shooting schedule, and took place at various locations in and around Faversham, including local homes, town centre streets, the Faversham Creek, Hollowshore pub, The Shipwright's Arms, Faversham Recreation Ground, The Market Inn, Oare Marshes, Uplees Cottage, as well as other locations in Kent such as Whitstable, East Kent Railway, Grain Power Station, Teynham Court Farm, Canterbury Hospital, Sittingbourne Police Station, Sittingbourne Community College, and others. Faversham Enterprise Partnership estimated that the filming generated £500,000 for the local economy. However, some residents expressed concerns about its effect on the town after it became apparent that the story is of a Hungerford-type shooting.
The critical response to the first two episodes was mostly positive. Benji Wilson of The Daily Telegraph thought that with "its muted palette, protracted silences, dank fogs and seething unease, Southcliffe was anything but nice-cup-of-tea and a sit-down TV, but it was a mesmerising tragedy, nonetheless." Arifa Akbar of The Independent noted "its disturbing silences" and called it "a rare and brilliant Sunday-night viewing", while Paul Whitelaw of The Scotsman considered Southcliffe to be "a major work, and quite easily the best British TV drama of the year so far." The sentiment was shared by Euan Ferguson of The Observer, who called it "the TV event of the year." Sam Wollaston of The Guardian thought that the drama series was a masterly study of a tragedy in smalltown England, one that "felt – and looked, and sounded – so utterly and terribly real", and that it was a "profound, chilling, moving piece of television".
Serena Davies of The Daily Telegraph, however, voiced a contrary opinion and wondered if the level of violence in this show as well as other TV dramas is really necessary, while Christopher Stevens of The Daily Mail thought that the character and situation were not believable and that the storyline went from "improbable to downright insulting."
Awards and nominations
The drama series received the most nominations at the 2014 British Academy Television Awards together with The IT Crowd, with four nominations each.