TV preview: The 7.39

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Railway platforms may have been breeding grounds for forbidden romance back in the days of Brief Encounter, but can love still blossom on a rammed commuter train in 2014?

Well, if anyone can makes us believe it’s possible, it’s writer David Nicholls.

He’s the man who gave us the book and later film Starter for Ten and the tear-jerking novel One Day, which also made it on to the big screen starring Anne Hathaway and her questionable Yorkshire accent.

Nicholls has also worked on series including Cold Feet, Rescue Me and an adaptation of Tess of the d’Urbervilles. He has returned to his TV roots by penning this two-part romantic drama for the BBC.

And given his, ahem, track record, it’s not surprising he’s managed to attract some first-class actors.

Or as Ben Stephenson, Controller BBC Drama Commissioning, puts it: “I’m bowled over by the award-winning and stellar cast starring in The 7.39. But it’s perhaps no surprise given the wonderful scripts by David Nicholls, in his first television drama since his novel, One Day, became a worldwide phenomenon.

“Like that novel, The 7.39 is laugh-out-loud funny, painfully truthful, emotionally agonising and brilliantly British!”

The Walking Dead’s David Morrissey proves he hasn’t entirely abandoned Blighty by taking on the role of Carl. In theory, he’s happily married to Maggie (Olivia Colman, rounding off an incredible year), his best friend since his college days with whom he has two slightly sullen teenage kids.

However, at the age of 45, Carl feels he’s stuck in a rut, and spotting the same old faces every morning on the 7.39 train into Waterloo only re-enforces the sense of deja vu.

But then one morning he gets into a fight over a seat with health club manager Sally (Sheridan Smith), who is having a few doubts of her own. She’s recently moved out of London with her boyfriend Ryan (Sean Maguire), who is keen for them to settle down and start a family, but Sally isn’t sure he’s the right man for her.

Suddenly, Sally and Carl’s commutes seem a lot more interesting, but are their entire lives about to change direction?

And after playing the nice, dependable copper who got ditched by Suranne Jones in Scott & Bailey for not being exciting enough, will Maguire start to develop a complex?

Either way, the two-parter looks destined to show us that even the most predictable of existences can be turned upside down in an instant.

As Nicholls says: “The 7.39 is a love story for grown-ups, the sort of drama that has not been seen on television for a while. I’m delighted to be writing for the BBC again and working with such a terrific cast and production team.”

And unlike a real train, we won’t be left waiting around for too long to reach our destination, as the concluding part is due to arrive on Tuesday.

THE 7.39, BBC1, Monday 9PM

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