Newsnight Review discussed Robbie Coltrane's new TV series The Planman.
(Edited highlights of the panel's review)
Tom, I think it's clear that the pitch
would have been Jekyll and Hyde
set in the Scottish legal system,
did you enjoy it?
Not just Jekyll and Hyde but the whole
theme of the double, Confession of the
Justified Sinner, the James Hogg novel.
In other words it's extremity of Calvinism,
the doubleness in that and the dark side
of being a lawyer. Absolutely brilliant
and very compelling. It is about the risk
taking of that imagination and the way in
which it wants to create absolute and
total chaos. It was wonderful like that,
but also what is interesting about this is
that this ends rather like Andrew O'Hagan
novel which is a Bonny prince Charlie
exile moment. Very strange that they both
should be doing that, because they are
both about Scotland now and they are
saying actually devolution will end up
with a Parliament not unlike Stormont
and we're going to have to get the hell
out of this Jacobite republic.
There's an intriguing reading of it, Bonnie
I thought the production values were
wonderful, the writing, the acting but
the thing that will keep you watching,
was the incredible score, which was wonderful
and Robbie Coltrane don't let me start,
this man is the sexiest and the deepest.
This guy's pauses with no words says
more than just about anybody on television.
He is a great actor and there are parts
of this film that doesn't make sense but
you stay with it because Coltrane and
Celia Imrie keep you in it.
Charles, they've got quite a challenge
the writer and actors here that it is quite
preposterous this plot and they have to
make it make sense. Do they bring
CHARLES SAUMAREZ SMITH:
There are bits which are ludicrous. It
is held together by Robbie Coltrane. It
is two and a half hours of him changing
role, changing guise, changing personality
as a lawyer and criminal and it is held
together by his performance which is
He doesn't take very many roles particularly
since he got into the Harry Potter pension
scheme. I understood why he took this,
because the thing he's best at is these
switching of mood and personality,
so to be playing someone who is two
people is ideal.
He does something what a lot of TV actors
don't do. What he does is he's constantly
stripping away, all the time and always
revealing layer, under layer, under layer,
under layer. You believe every moment
he's on screen and he makes fat, I mean
he's the sexiest fat man I've ever┐ he's
unbelievable and his choices, because
there are not a lot of things that would be
good enough for him to do. I adore him,
he's a genius. Celia Imrie is equally great.
The relationship is badly scripted and in
the second episode it get ludicrous. No
sense at all, but the basic conception which
he caries is marvellous.