Sean Bean appears in Marriage on BBC One with Nicola Walker

Marriage on BBC One is the grown-up, nuanced drama we needed

Marriage on BBC One is the grown-up, nuanced drama we needed

New BBC drama Marriage, starring Sean Bean and Nicola Walker, hit screens last night and had a mixed reaction from viewers.

Sean and Nicola play Emma and Ian, a couple who have been married for 30 years.

The Stefan Golaszewskis-penned show kicked off with a 10-minute argument about baked potatoes and some viewers found the first episode a bit too ‘slow burn’ for their liking.

Marriage on BBC One: Sean Bean plays Ian (Credit: BBC)

Sean Bean and Nicola Walker star in Marriage

Some TV fans also slammed the drama’s non-drama and lack of dialogue, with many calling it ‘mundane’ and ‘boring’.

But while some viewers weren’t impressed, others couldn’t heap enough praise on it, labelling it ‘nuanced’ and ‘mesmerising’. So which is it?

It’s simply a very grown-up drama. Unlike other summer TV, Marriage doesn’t rely on expensive stunts, bikini-clad stars or slick production. It’s all about the script and actors – and that includes what isn’t being said.

After 30 years together, Emma and Ian don’t need to fill every moment of their lives with exciting conversation or gymnastic sex. And this is the perfect antidote to shows such as Love Island which have dominated summer telly schedules.

It requires both patience and brain-power to watch and read between the lines, just perfect for getting those little grey cells working again after a summer of reality TV and sport.

Sean Bean and Nicola Walker in an airport in BBC drama Marriage
Emma and Ian have been married for 30 years (Credit: iPlayer)

And plenty of viewers agreed with this, taking to Twitter to share their thoughts.

What are fans saying?

Not surprised to see lots of negative comments on here about #Marriage on @BBCOne. Excruciating… yes, but in a good way! #NicolaWalker and #SeanBean are quietly heartbreaking – A slow burn but worth sticking with I feel?” wrote one person.

Another replied, saying: “Totally agree with what Matthew says. It’s like nothing I’ve seen on BBC drama, and it’s mesmerising. Slow burn, considered and heavy on characterisation make it feel like ‘literary’ TV, and the exceptional casting takes it up a notch. Kudos to all involved.”

A third praised the realism in the drama, tweeting: “BBC Marriage represents exactly how British couples converse with each other  Not listening to anyone who doesn’t admit that this is how we all live.”

“Oh my, lots of negative tweets about #marriage @bbc but I feel people not seeing what I saw. Episode 1 was brilliant. So well observed and acted, so much unspoken and heaps of tension,” observed another viewer. “Exactly. So much simmering under the surface. The midlife crisis, the lost child, the adopted daughter. I think it is to early to condemn it. The things unsaid, the looks ,the subtle undertones. All will be revealed,” replied another.

Sean Bean and Nicola Walker on plane talking over the aisle in Marriage
Marriage is nuanced and quietly brilliant (Credit: iPlayer)

Absolutely brilliant. @seanbean and @nicolawalker are stunning. Perfectly nuanced drama,showing exactly how marriage works . The silences, the looks, the unspoken tension, the pain. #marriage bbc drama at its best,” gushed someone else.

And another tweeted: “Thought it was so good! The beauty of it is in the portrayal of reality, unlike usual TV. Many couples live amiably but with little conversation – excruciating! Then something changes & it’s no longer ok. That’s what this is about- impact of death & redundancy on that stability.”

Read more: Sean Bean’s most scandalous moments throughout his FIVE marriages

Marriage is a stripped-back, beautifully crafted drama with some sublime performances from its cast.

It proves that drama doesn’t need sex, drugs and organised crime gangs to be brilliant.

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