Southcliffe: 6 Reasons Why It Is The Best British Programme Of The Year

6. The Story


Southcliffe's narrative revolves around the devastating shooting spree that takes place over a single day in the fictional, quaint market town; but the story is not of the shootings, rather the people who are affected, robbed of their loved ones and their struggle to cope with even the mundane which felt so easy before. Grisoni did not produce the story as exploitative fiction, not the violent murder-fest that the press were so quick to dictate even before the show had begun. The premise is one of violence and yet the majority of the violence which occurs, the shootings included, happen off-screen with just the imagination of the viewers perceiving what could have been on-screen. It is an exploration of emotions, triggers and small-town politics composed under the realism of tragedy that has occurred as both fiction and reality in our own society. Despite the fact that Southcliffe doesn't overplay the of violence of the killings, the programme doesn't flinch away from the gritty fallout following the heinous crimes, how Claire Salter, a mother whose daughter is taken from her by gunman Stephen Morton, is driven to near insanity, dressing akin to her daughter Anna and takes on her purpose compared to Paul Gould who sets upon a path of self-destruction. The great focus upon the people rather than the event sets Southcliffe apart from so many other shows. Yes, all the focus characters are identified as the same through the depiction of their loss but it is their own personal journeys that create such an enthralling and empathetic tale. From the adulterous husband who loses the family he took for granted to the middle-aged husband and wife struggling to connect, these are real people, real people who are normality embodied, invisible and anonymous, yet given a podium through their trauma and through the camera's studying lens. Following the tragedy, these characters are offered a chance to reinvent themselves, to rebuild broken lives, but ultimately some fail to grasp the chance.
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I am an aspiring writer and film critic, recently graduated from the University of Exeter with a BA in Film Studies. I spend my free time developing my square eyes watching films and television, reading novels and playing football. You can contact me at