Secret Life on Channel 4 last night took on paedophilia, or rather the story of a recently released paedophile trying to adjust to freedom. Matthew Macfadyen took the lead in this festival of laughs, a ‘brave’ role for a relatively young actor more suited to being Darcy or some bit of fluff in BBC dramas. I say ‘brave’ because anyone who is familiar with the tabloids in the UK will be aware that even saying the word ‘paedophile’ is akin to dropping one’s trousers and waving an engorged member in the face of baby Jesus.
It was a grim affair; like watching Oranges are not the Only Fruit with Ebola. Largely, one was sympathetic to the character, though of course one tried not to be for fear of Daily Mail readers beating the door down to the flat and hacking off my bag with a shard of pottery. Turns out the character (that’s the character, not me, I only like women over the age of 45) had been abused by his father (grew up happily in Surrey, I saw the very top of my dad’s knob once and that was only because he’s forgotten to lock the toilet door when he was having a plop) and had subsequently gone on to do the same to little girls.
The movie gently rambled off with his day-to-day comings and goings, counselling sessions, signing the sex offenders’ register, working in a garden (why is it when they portray oddballs, they always seem to work in fucking gardens?) and occasionally getting chased, Keystone Cops style, by Daily Mail-reading skinheads. I found that part shit by the way, it simply didn’t work but it lead up to the inevitable crowd of chanting Daily Mail readers with placards once they’d discovered that a house on their street was a refuge for paedos and, as it turned out, asylum seekers. The chanting Daily Mail readers weren’t fussed about the asylum seekers largely, I should imagine, as they were unaware they were there. Had they known then the programme would’ve ended right there in a fucking huge fireball with the emergency services attempting to break through a cordon of thousands of Daily Mail readers all tooled up with croquet hammers and garden Boules.
It was desperate viewing; needless to say I assume some basic research on the part of the filmmakers had been carried out to the point that the character’s story is fairly typical of sex offender’s lives following a spell in the nick? Sadly, the filmmakers were unable to prevent themselves from capping the once quite sedate pace and plot with a sensationalist twist, that in my opinion, undermined all the adequate work they’d done up until that point.
After being effectively driven out of his dwellings the character (not me, I was at home watching this with a scotch) happened across a funfair. Previously we’d seen him doing everything he could to avoid any contact with kids at all in order to avoid the temptation to reoffend. Having been let down by society, he was now doing everything he could to re-offend. In a frankly idiotic scene at the fair he attempts to seduce a 12-year-old girl (played by a very short 32 year old) and the whole thing was as convincing as David Hasselhoff playing the Dane. Anyway, he controls his urges and walks her home without so much as a tickle (though she kissed HIM, THE FUCKING SLATTERN)
He then nips back home and hangs himself, the end. Really it was that ludicrous, which was a shame as I thought MacFadyen was jolly good in his role. He managed to balance empathy and threat with conviction and for once the filmmakers had managed to get the fucking light right throughout.
Oh, a bit of advice for Daily Mail reading skinheads: If you really want to catch a nonce, screeching to a halt in a car 10 yards from where he’s standing and screaming, ‘there he is, get him’ isn’t the best course of action.