You’ll not find many people these days who are unfamiliar with Olivia Colman.
After making her name in various comedies, from Green Wing to Peep Show, she branched out into serious drama with a breakthrough role as an abused wife in Tyrannosaur, the 2011 British drama which served as Paddy Considine’s directoral debut as well as cementing Colman’s reputation as a versatile actress of quite some repute.
These days she’s considered one of the finest of her generation. She won BAFTAs for both drama and comedy at this year’s awards, as well as starring in the drama hit of the year so far, Broadchurch, which has been hailed as the UK’s answer to The Killing. Hyde Park On Hudson, which pitted her opposite Hollywood heavyweights such as Bill Murray and Laura Linney, didn’t exactly hurt her reputation, either.
It’s safe to say, then, that Colman can afford to pick and choose her projects nowadays, so her presence in Run gives it a certain seal of approval. Spanning four episodes, shown nightly throughout the week, it tells the stories of four seemingly unconnected people, all of whom are approaching points in their lives where they must make big decisions when even the smallest of choices seems to be impossible.
Colman plays Carol, a tough single mother striving to keep her family together. Her story is the focal point of the first episode, as her teenage sons commit a terrible act of violence which results in the death of a stranger, leading her to contemplate whether she should protect them as their mother or do the right thing and turn them in. It’s quite a departure from her comedy days, to say the least, and Olivia jumped at the chance: “I loved the role as soon as it came through. It’s unusually written, but it’s a story that’s clearly straight from the heart... You don’t often get scripts this good through the post; they are few and far between.”
But she’s not the only familiar face on tonight’s edition: Utopia, The Mimic and Dates star Neil Maskell, who is also something of an in-demand individual at the moment, also stars. Olivia says of his performance “He’s absolutely brilliant, it was an honour to work with him. It just makes your job very easy when you’re playing against people like that. His face in repose is such a sweet, gentle, twinkly face. It’s amazing to watch - he just goes into character and suddenly becomes quite chilling.”
Tomorrow’s episode stars Harry Potter’s Katie Leung as an illegal immigrant who finds refuge with a barber after a raid leaves her homeless and alone. Elsewhere in the all-too-short series, The Walking Dead’s Lennie James stars as a recovering heroin addict whose daily life is a struggle to stay clean, and Katharina Schüttler (The Promise) plays a Polish cleaner whose gambling-addict boyfriend is killed in a vicious attack.
Channel 4 rarely pull punches, but this series really hits home with its authenticity, not to mention a knock-out cast.
RUN, CHANNEL 4, Monday, 10pm