John Middleton (John Simm) has hit rock bottom. He’s glugging beer from a bucket, hitting his wife (Maxine Peake) and inadvertently terrifying other young women. And it’s the latter that exposes the deep-seated reason behind his reprehensible behaviour as Caro (the young woman in question), in a rare moment of clarity, reveals that she’s pregnant – a confession which stirs up all sorts of uncomfortable memories for John and his fellow villagers. Young Bert, meanwhile, concocts a lucrative way to exact revenge on the cowardly teacher who continues to bully him.
The deep undertow of sadness persists into tonight’s second episode (although the denouement offers a glimmer of optimism); so too does Peter Moffat’s admirable refusal to foreshadow à la ‘Downton’: there’s a massacre going on in Western Europe, but it feels a long way away from the parochial concerns of this insular community.