William And Mary: Season 1


Reviewed by: Stephanie Wolfe Murray

This TV rom-com seems to have plugged into, or coincided with, a universal longing for human decency. William (Martin Clunes), a widower with two wilful teenage daughters, and Mary (Julie Graham), a divorcee with two moody teenage sons, join a dating agency.

Guess the rest? My hackles were up. How could it be anything but banal? No, no and no! This series is pure, unadulterated, easy-viewing joy.

By the end of the first episode, they have slept together. With their busy lives, you would have thought this an impossibility - where's the time?

Let's be blunt about it. Two thoroughly decent people have had sex. And the tapestry of their lives is unfolding before us.

Mary is a midwife. She's beautiful; it shines out of her soul. She's looking after a heavily pregnant woman, who has a cancerous tumour. The decision to have her baby normally is life threatening but courageous. For Mary it is traumatic. She's too focused on the well-being of her patients to worry about petty bureaucracy. She assumes that her colleagues feel the same.

William is exposed as a liar. The dating agency advised him to say he was a social worker, rather than an undertaker. He is crestfallen and in love. Mary is outraged and stomps off.

Enter Molly (Cheryl Campbell), her mother, and Rick (Michael Begley), the decorator, an old admirer of Mary's. Molly is absurdly interfering and won't give up. She insists that Mary and Rick get together. To make things worse, she lives with them and is a constant, irritating presence.

Meanwhile, we see William dealing with death. What a darling man! He also sings in a choir and is in a R & B band. His daughters suspect someone must be making him happy, but now he's blown it. He lied.

He's going to have to make time to sort it out, but as ever, when he does, Mary is off, helping a teenage mother give birth; breathing life into a dying baby; consoling a distraught father.

The physical chemistry between them is mysterious, healing and life-enhancing. Inevitably, their children meet up. William buys extra beds for the boys' visits and starts to redecorate the house.

He goes with Mary to the boys' football matches. Then tragedy strikes. After one of the games a carload of young people is involved in a fatal crash. We see William doing what he does best - being an undertaker. With nonchalant compassion, he guides devastated parents through the proceedings.

The emotional tension generated by extremes of birth and death is palpable. No words can do justice to the poignancy of it.

Misunderstandings arise. Mary's ex arrives, flush with money. William is jealous. Molly inveigles her way into William's house and has Rick papering ceilings and doing repair jobs in the mortuary, until he freaks out when he hears voices from the cold room. It's a radio, switched to Radio 4, inside a coffin.

The acting is so good, you never think about it. How can the cast not be living these lives?

Thank God, there is more to come.

Reviewed on: 31 Mar 2004
Share this with others on...
William And Mary: Season 1 packshot
The complicated love life of a compassionate undertaker and a dedicated midwife.
Amazon link

Director: Matthew Evans, Nicholas Laughland, Stuart Orme, Jean Stewart

Writer: Mick Ford

Starring: Martin Clunes, Julie Graham, Cheryl Campbell, Michael Begley

Year: 2003

Runtime: 286 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


Search database: