Just watched Blackout on the BBC tonight, featuring Christopher Ecclestone as an alcoholic who beats a man into a coma while drunk, but wakes up with no memory of the incident. He’s a corrupt politician who drinks, does drugs and whores his way around low-lit clubs. But by the end of episode 1, he’s had an epiphany, saves a life after taking a life, and is reborn (as potential mayor of London).
There were some uncomfortable moments in there, particularly when the wife says something like: ‘I wish my mind would stay still enough so I can figure out how I feel.’ It speaks to all of us who have said, for the hundredth time: ‘I can’t live like this any more’ only to recant 24 hours later and let the alcoholic back into our lives out of compassion, guilt or inertia.
So here’s the difference between so many of our experiences and the fictional one. Christopher Ecclestone’s character has a life-changing moment (he saves someone’s life), gets shot in the process, and gives up drink. He just stops. He doesn’t go into withdrawal in hospital. He doesn’t get referred to any drug and alcohol service. He stops. And he agrees to run for mayor.
It sounds ludicrous when I write it, but as a drama, it sort of works. It works because it’s just the first episode of 3, and as we all know, there’s always a relapse around the corner.
As for Ben, he didn’t tell the rehab centre what happened. He was shaking pretty badly today after stopping the beer (for now). They’ll have seen right through him. It’s funny. The centre is like another wife, only that wife is an understanding and patient one, waiting for the day when the husband finally admits he’s done wrong.
- Christopher Eccleston: from superheroes to Sophocles (guardian.co.uk)