Single Father: Episode 3

Kicking off directly where Episode 2 left off, upon Dave's daughter's discovery of her father (David Tennant) and his dead wife's best friend Sarah (Suranne Jones) in bed together, the third instalment of Single Father sees numerous scenes where this little ticking time-bomb threatens to unmask the "guilty" couple.

At every turn, when Dave's youngest is onscreen, the audience is left grimacing in fear that she'll innocently blab all; making for much amusement. It's certainly a welcome humorous diversion from the increasingly complicated and emotionally layered drama that has been and continues to unfold.

The previous episode's startling showdown between Dave and Stuart (Rupert Graves) is revisited as the former visits the latter in some remarkable, not to mention classy, Edinburgh locations. This divide between Dave and Stuart is never more so obvious than the Glasgow/Edinburgh divide on show here.

The majority of viewers will perhaps be unaware that there is even a divide between the two Scottish cities but there is - a large one. An old saying goes (slightly paraphrased): "I'd rather go to a Glasgow wake than an Edinburgh funeral" and this very much applies to how the two are portrayed.

Glasgow is shot with warmth and community (the family and friends trip to the football game, Dave's overpopulated and cluttered house) whereas Edinburgh is cold and sterile (the meetings in desolate car parks and Stuart's stylish but unwelcoming office and home). If this were any other humdrum prime-time drama then these would be indicative of the men that inhabit the spaces. But Single Father is aiming for something a little more cerebral.

Stuart is a mirror image of Dave, albeit in a more expensive suit. Both men have difficulty in translating the emotional aspect of their dilemma to one another verbally - though it's obvious from their faces that mutual understanding is nothing less than 100%.

The "bad guy" is anything but as he offers to help Dave out with legal proceedings against the police (knowing the power he has will ensure a larger payout) and is polite and courteous at every turn. Tennant's character is slowly emasculated throughout by the men in his life. Stuart threatens the very core of Dave's family life, as some shocking revelations hint that his children may not be his own and even "bumbling" brother-in-law Robin, played with charm by Mark Heap, removes any choices Dave has by making them for him (and even has to loan him money).

Dave's recalcitrance at receiving help is typical of the Scottish male but Robin won't hear any of it and forces Dave's hand in a compelling, yet short, plea to him, professing his familial love as the source of the need to help (Robin has no children of his own).

In a final (and one wonders prescient) move, the single father offers his dog, a symbol forever associated with the honest, dutiful "family" man, to Robin. Is this foreshadowing events to come when Dave will have to offer his offspring to Stuart (before they are, perhaps, taken away?)

Dave and Sarah's relationship is featured in a more prominent and physical manner in this episode. Suranne Jones in particular gets much more to work with during her scenes with partner Matt. Sarah remains silent, demonstrating the slow realisation of the end of their relationship.

Again, like the previous episodes, there are many threads competing for your attention. If the first episode was an emotional journey, the second a romance then the third is a mystery; as Dave tries to piece together the lies of his life with Rita (his dead wife) and the parentage of "his" children whilst Sarah questions the nature of her relationship with Dave (does he really love her, for example, or is he using her to "get back" at Rita?). All mysteries that will keep you enthralled, and make an hour pass by in a flash.

Airs at 9pm on Sunday 24th October 2010 on BBC One.

> Buy the DVD on Amazon.

Reviewed by Cameron K McEwan.