TV Review: Close to Me, Episode 1

The first episode of Channel 4’s new drama Close to Me promises much, with Connie Nielsen and Christopher Eccleston in unsettlingly good form

“How could she have hurt herself so badly just falling down the stairs?”

Based on Amanda Reynolds’ 2017 novel and written by Angela Pell, Close to Me looks set to take the place of the stylish drama of the month. All six of its episodes have been released on All4 but I’m going to resist the urge to binge for now at least, although with Susan Lynch in the cast and Kate O’Flynn yet to appear, this will be quite the effort. 

Connie Nielsen’s Jo has taken a nasty fall down the stairs at home which has left her with a serious case of amnesia, the whole last year gone from her memories. But as she recuperates and tries to piece it back together, it turns out life is a lot more complicated than that, with secrets heaped upon secrets involving both family and friends.

Nielsen is excellent thus far at capturing the utterly disoriented Jo, clutching vainly at half-remembered jigsaw pieces that still don’t make sense and left exasperated by what she feels she isn’t being told. Her best friend (Lynch) not telling her what they had a massive falling out about, her husband missing out key details about the fall, her dad’s dementia, the death of the family dog, in the name of protecting her best interests.

A clean-cut Christopher Eccleston is perfectly cast here, particularly as we know just enough that he’s not as trustworthy as his depiction of their marriage would seem. And the fact that Jo is going through menopause adds another interesting texture and we’re clearly going to be questioning how reliable a narrator she is going to be, even as her internal monologue asks the same question. An enticing first episode then and hopefully a cracking series in store.

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