They are the eggmen

Wednesday, March 1, 2006 by

“Is this the last really good thing that Tony Marchant ever wrote?” said Jack, a couple of months back, musing on the merits of Holding On.

Er, yes. And things aren’t about to change with The Family Man, which comes to BBC1 at the end of March. In typical Marchant style, what we’ve got here is a seemingly disparate cast of people, whose lives all overlap on the same Very Important Issue.

At the centre of things is a stiffly coiffured Trevor Eve, the titular “Man” who runs a fertility clinic. Through a series (I originally wrote “serious” there, a telling slip) of laborious staff meetings – partially enlivened by the cast all eating Chinese takeways – Eve and his colleagues painfully hammer out the various ethical issues surrounding the topic, before he unilaterally decides to go ahead with what he considers to be the right course of action, with heavily signposted dramatic fall-out ensuing.

The plot-strands are quite clever, including a typically neat tie-up between two seemingly unrelated characters in episode two (I really should have seen that coming). However the characterisation is painful. Working class types dimly reacting to circumstance, one would-be mother screeching: “It ain’t easy, you know – just to give half your eggs away!”. Meanwhile, Eve and his chums live in a Habitat world, where every meal is taken with a glass of wine and icy teenage kids lord it around the house, punching holes in dad’s sanctimoniousness.

But, it’s got Lee Ross in it and Nick Stringer, so it’s not totally without appeal.


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