The Victim - a powerful, brilliant drama with award-worthy star turns

James Harkness starred in the BBC's powerful new drama The Victim
James Harkness starred in the BBC's powerful new drama The Victim
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According to Benjamin Franklin, there are only two certainties in life – death and taxes.

But after watching The Victim (BBC1, Mon-Thurs, 9pm), I think we can add a third to that list – Kelly MacDonald will win many, many awards for her performance.

MacDonald played Anna Dean, still grieving for her young son Liam, murdered 15 years ago by a teenager called Eddie J Turner, who is now living under an assumed name after serving a prison sentence.

Desperate for some form of justice, she learns of Turner’s secret identity and broadcasts it on social media, resulting in a man called Craig Myers –who may or may not be Turner – being beaten almost to death.

The Victim followed the fallout from Anna’s actions, constantly twisting and turning, making you shift your sympathy from Anna to Craig – played with nervy, white-knuckle brilliance by James Harkness – and back.

It also made the point that there is never one victim in a crime like this – the family left behind suffer hugely. In MacDonald’s portrayal of Anna, you could see it was the rage at her son’s killer that was keeping her together, meaning her husband and children came a distant second in her thoughts.

“Letting go of what I feel about that man would be like letting go of Liam again. And I can’t do that,” she tells her husband.

There were big themes here – vengeance, forgiveness –but it was never overwrought, and it was to the show’s credit that, when Eddie Turner was finally unmasked, he was never made a monster, inexplicable and unknowable, but was altogether human.

And to a parent, letting their son or daughter out to play during these Easter holidays, that’s the scariest thing of all.

The Widow (ITV, Mon/Tues, 9pm) was – despite the Hollywood star power of Kate Beckinsale – a bit dull and insipid, with lots of scenes in which people were shown pics of a man in an orange hat. Dull.

David Olusoga’s history series A House Through Time (BBC2, Mondays, 9pm) returned, telling Britain’s history through the occupants of a single house. A simple idea, brilliantly executed.