89. Secrecy

Tapehead no 89

The currency of the dark and murky secret is getting weaker if Confessions is anything to go by.

Just when Tapehead was expecting Abel Ferrara, Martin Scorsese, and Sean Penn to turn up and have their guilt absolved by Simon Mayo, what we get instead are civilians like the woman who confesses that when she got married she had pictures of Take That pinned to her garter. (Well we’ve all done it…)

People like the improbably-named Mel Brain don’t know they’re born. Mel once threw a box of Easter eggs down the stairs so she could take home the broken ones. By God, she must be feeling guilty to allow herself to appear on this rubbish.

You can only imagine how the girl who used to put Jammy Dodgers down her knickers and then give them to the school fat girl must be feeling.

Confessions is a show that – apparently – contains “a variety of hilarious secrets.” Only nine weeks to go.

God knows how Simon Mayo would try and chastise the couples on Straight From The Heart. Compared to the woman with the Jammy Dodgers, they must be feeling guilty as hell.

Harry, a British soldier in Northern Ireland, had a fine romance with an Irish Catholic girl whom he met after he went to local disco (in uniform). The army warned him off. She was threatened with kneecapping – because being tarred and feathered was “too good” for her. They eventually got engaged over the barricades – “It felt good even then.”

Dolly’s confession is that she was a Guernsey girl who fell for a German soldier during the war, which Simon Mayo would surely have something to say about. She remembers the occupation, explaining how she saw “lots of strange men in uniform with black shiny boots. But I didn’t know who they were”.

God knows who she thought they were. A bunch of ravers from the local S&M club ?

Compared to Willy and Dolly, there are only marginally deep secrets in Screen One’s “powerful thriller”, Deep Secrets.

“You strip away every skin a man’s got,” whispers one of the scary hit-men. “What’s left underneath is fear. It’s the ugliest secret in the world.” 

Oh, is it? Tapehead’s got hundreds of secrets a lot uglier than that. (Call yourself a hit-man ?)

The good news is that Colin Salmon from Silent Witness (who always plays psychos or psycho cops) does his Deep Cover number playing an undercover cop saying things like: “That’s the way I’ve always been – in control.”

Amanda Donohoe (who recently turned up on TFI Friday talking to Chris Evans as if she was Dah-ling Dame Edna) plays Lara, a casino manager and ex-wife of a Turkish drug-dealer, named (aptly) Caine.

Ann Mitchell from Widows and She’s Out (or She’s Horrible as Tapehead called it) does her best Sheila Grant impersonation, saying things like: “She left his bed, she left his house, but it isn’t easy to leave his world.”

Like a lot of Screen Ones, though, Deep Secrets tries so hard to avoid the clichés that it becomes less and less coherent and convincing.

Donohoe, Salmon, and the excellent Sophie Okonedo as Salmon’s undercover partner predictably all get blurred up in their role-playing. Donohoe has enough good moments that she should maybe actually join the force.

(The stand out being her little girl flying act, fluttering her eyelashes perfectly.)

The concept of method acting undercover policemen always creates a crucial flaw with the plot, though – one that becomes intrinsic and fatal here.

Mainly what you’re thinking while you’re watching this is the Catch-22 that’s wrong with even the best Hollywood movies like Serpico: if Salmon’s and Okonedo’s cops can act as well as they are, then what are they doing in the police – when they could be earning real money starring in TV dramas like this one ?


Confessions, 7.15pm, Sat, BBC1

Screen One, 9.15pm, Sat, BBC1

Straight From The Heart, 9.45pm, Tue, BBC2