Cracker – tape 1842

Straight into the first episode on this tape, CrackerTo Be A Somebody, one of the most memorable stories of the series. It’s the first episode of the new series.

This is possibly the most memorable story Cracker ever did, thanks in large part to Robert Carlyle’s performance as Albie, the man who finally cracks beneath one more small indignity.

The series was getting very soapy – as all shows tend to after they’ve mined the novelty of the format – so Fitz is in trouble at home because of his drinking and gambling, and Penhaligon hates him because he stood her up at the airport.

But the reason this one sticks in the mind most of all actually happens in episode 2, when Albie murders Bilborough, Christopher Eccleston’s character, stabbing him with a bayonet, and Eccleston’s death is played out as he talks to his colleagues on his radio (although why he didn’t use the radio when in pursuit, I’m not sure).

It’s very moving, but slightly undercut when Fitz and Penhaligon arrive to find him lying in the street, and neither of them even check for a pulse. Surely a trained police officer would know to at least try for a pulse, and try to stem the bleeding?

This episode does have repercussions further on in the series – Jimmy Beck interviewed Albie before he killed Bilborough, but was taken in by his sob-story that he had cancer, and discounted him, so he’ll be carrying that guilt.

I have to wonder how much of this story was written in anger by Jimmy McGovern. Albie is driven in part by a desire for revenge for the 96 people who died at Hillsborough, and Hillsborough was clearly important to McGovern too. I don’t think it’s accidental that, in the last episode, the only one of Albie’s bombs which strikes its intended target was the one sent to the Sun reporter. McGovern clearly doesn’t forgive.

The final episode on this tape is the first episode of The Big Crunch, and I’ve already looked at the last two episodes of this story previously. It’s written by Ted Whitehead, not McGovern, which might explain the more middle-class milieu. Jim Carter is the head of a small church, and was photographed having sex with the 17 year old Samantha Morton by his sister in law. She tells her sister, they confront him, and naturally, because Morton is pregnant, their solution is to fill Morton full of drink and pills, draw all over her, put her in a cardboard box and tried to drop her in the paper recycling machine. It’s the ultimate victim blaming.

After the last episode, there’s the start of an episode of News at Ten. then the recording stops.

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