Single Father: Episode 4

When the BBC released details about Single Father they claimed it was a "touching yet humorous drama"; another way of filing it under the overused (and incorrect) 'comedy/drama' label. If you're waiting for the laughs to come in the final episode, then let us disabuse you of your hopes.

The final instalment of BBC One's series may raise a smile but, like the previous three parts, its unerring grimness and heartbreak define it unashamedly as a drama.

Just when you think everything's going alright for Dave (David Tennant) and his family, their collective happiness is shattered by two events: the court case regarding Rita's death (reminding the audience, as well as the onscreen family, of just how this all started) and the unsavoury discovery of Dave's relationship with Sarah (Suranne Jones).

So far, Single Father may have been upsetting and heartbreaking, but here it just gets nasty. Damn nasty. Recriminations fly, demands are made and much rudeness appears. The human spirit is revealed in all its revolting reality. It's a testament to all involved that within the space of a few minutes the euphoria of love and affinity is destroyed by the bile of hatred and greed.

There are more twists along the way (some needless, it has to be said) before the satisfying, if predictable, denouement; a conclusion that's complete Hollywood rom-com in how it plays out, almost unbelievably so. It's not quite a mad last minute dash to the airport, but not far off.

At every turn, with the exception of this episode, Single Father made brave and thoughtful moves that threatened to verge on the "soapy" but constantly remained engaging, interesting and compelling. This is most obvious during a scene in the finale where a montage of Dave's life without Sarah is played, accompanied by an extraordinary score from Doctor Who composer Murray Gold. At first glance, the audience is left unclear whether or not these are actual events or projected thoughts from Dave's mind regarding his future.

The series' four parts were Shakespearian in their range - examining families, love and death with a cast that can tread the boards with the finest. Most of all, Single Father displayed the power and range contained by its leading man, David Tennant, who was never less than stellar. The British televisual landscape is made that much brighter when he's around, and one sincerely hopes that we don't have to wait another ten months to witness his talents on the small screen.

Airs at 9pm on Sunday 31st October 2010 on BBC One.

> Buy the DVD on Amazon.

Reviewed by Cameron K McEwan.