Single Father: Episode 1

And so sees the return to television, after almost 10 months, of David Tennant.

Tennant, over-exposed relentlessly by BBC One last Christmas (ah, the memories), has now ditched the Sonic Screwdriver, stopped travelling in time and space, and settled down here on Earth (Scotland, no less).

New four-part drama Single Father tells the story of Dave Tyler (played by Tennant), a photographer facing the seemingly impossible job of bringing up four kids alone after the sudden death of his wife, Rita (Laura Fraser). On hand to help out is his her best friend, Sarah; played by another familiar televisual face, Corrie's Suranne Jones.

This opening episode spends no time, and pulls no punches, in addressing the death of Dave's wife - it's an horrific moment, further emphasised by the familial joy we witness beforehand.

The family themselves are wonderfully played. Fraser and Tennant perform the slightly more complex than usual (for TV anyway) mother and father roles admirably, whilst the children excel in their parts; quite some feat considering the polar emotions they have to play.

Without wanting to label this a "tissue party", it's the emotional element of this heartbreaking story that come to the fore as Dave goes from one devastating problem to another (losing his wife is but the start of his woes).

Tennant is remarkable in the role, playing the chummy father role with his predictable charm but the latter half gives the actor a chance to shine as Dave fails to cope with the world collapsing around him. Anger, frustration and grief battle for dominance in the widower's personality.

Despite a couple of niggles (like the police leaving a grieving man, clearly distraught, sitting alone in the middle of a motorway), Single Father is a compelling drama that will leave you emotionally drained with its heartfelt and affecting performances.

The BBC have labelled the series as a "touching yet humorous drama." Well, let's hope there's more humour and less touching in the upcoming episodes. Otherwise, we'll be buying shares in Kleenex.

Airs at 9pm on Sunday 10th October 2010 on BBC One.

> Buy the DVD on Amazon.

Reviewed by Cameron K McEwan.