The Plot: It’s 1912 and the comfortable, wealthy, upper-middle class Birling family are enjoying dinner at their sumptuous home. There’s a lot of joy and laughter as daughter Sheila has just announced her engagement to a prosperous young man, Gerald. But the festivities are interrupted by the arrival of the lugubrious Inspector Goole, or maybe Gould, no one is quite sure. He has terrible news: a young woman called Eva Smith has been found dead, she killed herself and left a diary …..
JB Priestley’s classic 1945 stage play stands up remarkably well in this gripping adaptation by playwright Helen Edmundson. A tip-top cast, including Ken Stott and Miranda Richardson as the complacent Birlings, make it thrum with mystery and life. But it’s David Thewlis who steals the show, as the remorseless, mysterious Inspector, a man who forensically cuts open and exposes the Birlings’ class-strapped hypocrisies and shows what the death had to do with each one of them. And, to this day, its final twist still tingles the spine (Alison Graham, Radio Times, 12-18 September 2015, page 62).
The video: Decent enough for an HD television transmission (not aided by the subdued interior lighting), but some way short of Blu-ray quality (3?).
The audio: 5.1 Dolby Digital rather than stereo, but obviously not a vehicle for much in the way of LFE. However, the dialogues are always clear and the atmospheric effects are suitably evocative (3?).