Stefan Golaszewski’s Mum goes out on an absolute high with a glorious third and final series with Lesley Manville and Dorothy Atkinson never better
“I think this will be an interesting week”
Any TV series starring both Lesley Manville and Sam Swainsbury has clearly been specifically designed for me and me alone, and so I choose to take Stefan Golaszewski’s decision to end Mum after this third series extremely personally. Problem is, the guy knows exactly what he is doing, as this glorious series really did go out on a high.
It’s taken me a little while to get around to watching it. I adored the first series, and the second, and I just wasn’t ready to say goodbye. But given her return to the stage at the National, it felt like as good a time as any to indulge in a Manville marathon. And you can watch this entire series in less than the running time of The Visit, without even having to get dressed, so everyone’s a winner.
Series 3 takes the decision to move the action out of Cathy’s house for the first time, offering up more than just a change of scenery, but the opportunity to refresh and recalibrate some of the key relationships in the show as Cathy (Manville) and Michael’s (Peter Mullan) will-they-won’t-they turns into a when-will-they-tell-everyone-else. And where better than the swanky country house that Pauline has rented for Derek’s birthday.
While there, along with the elderly parents of Cathy’s deceased husband Dave, Golaszewski’s main thesis becomes clear though – the grief for Dave that still reverberates around this family. And here, his writing is just exceptional and combined with Manville’s superlative interpretative skills, it is just heartbreakingly excellent. Watching her son’s long-coming emotional breakdown (the ever watchable Sam Swainsbury), or talking about the prospect of moving on with her mother-in-law (Marlene Sidaway), it is just perfection.
There’s also the grotesque humour of the increasingly monstrous Pauline (Dorothy Atkinson) who hysterically goes into overdrive in the presence of the owners of the manor. And though there’s some pathos in the progression – or lack thereof – of her relationship with Derek, it’s in the casually tossed off lines and bitchy humour where she excels, even in the brilliant moment where Cathy finally has enough (truly, the best swearing that ever happened). An undersung masterpiece – this should have been rolling in awards and acclaim.