much-loved British comedian,
well established as a household name,
falls from grace when he is accused
of an historical sexual assault that
threatens both his glittering career and
his rock-solid marriage in the Channel
4 mini-series National Treasure... AS ONE OF BRITAIN'S TOP COMEDIANS, Paul Finchley (Robbie Coltrane: Cracker;
Harry Potter) is popular, wealthy, blessed with great talent, the love and
support of his long-suffering wife Marie (Julie Walters: Indian Summers;
Billy Elliot) and the unstinting loyalty and support of the other half of
his comedy double act Karl Jenkins (Tim McInnerny: Notting Hill; 101 Dalmatians).
Having just presented the Broadcast Gold Lifetime Achievement award to Karl,
the audience reaction to Paul leaves him in no doubt that, after many years
in the business, he is a much loved and well-respected National Treasure.
can be uncomfortable
it is a remarkable
and convincing drama
that is well written
and superbly cast.
as a devoted father to troubled Danielle, known as Dee (Andrea Risborough: Bloodline;
Birdman) and proud grandfather to Billy (William Wright Neblett) and Frances
(Renaee-Mya Warden), it comes as a dreadful shock to all when he is arrested
and accused of sexually assaulting a young female fan, Rebecca Thornton (Kate
Hardy), whom he met while filming in Bedford in 1993.
Ostensibly happily married for forty years and living in a mansion, Paul and
Marie appear to have everything. But Marie has always been aware of her husband's
infidelities and chooses to ignore them as long as he tells her the truth, no
matter how much it hurts. She is strong and loyal, holding the family together
and being his staunch support.
Karl is also Paul's best friend and ally and although he understands Paul's
weaknesses he would never betray him, even though he has watched Marie suffer
and holds a torch for her himself.
Dee loves her father but the revelations cause her to question the stability
of her childhood. Divorced from her children's father who, due to her fragile
state, has custody of Billy and Frances, she has twice attempted suicide and
lives in supportive accommodation.
Very soon the inevitable nightmare begins. Rebecca's accusations open the floodgates
and six more people including the Finchley's precocious former babysitter
Christina (Susan Lynch) come forward claiming that they were abused by
Paul. He is being hounded by the media and is very soon finding it hard to cope
as his affairs become public and cracks begin to appear in his marriage.
Initially Marie refuses to believe Paul would be capable of assault. But as
the Police uncover Paul's habits of searching porn websites and visiting prostitutes
her resolve begins to waver. There are things that Marie remembers that don't
make sense and she also thinks Karl is covering something up.
Finally the serious allegations are whittled down to two: Rebecca and Christina
both insist that they are telling the truth and Christina was underage when
the assault is alleged to have happened. So what do they stand to gain if they
Paul's whole life begins to crumble and he is suspended by the television company
that employs him. Although he categorically denies the charges it seems possible
that he may, after all, have something to hide. Is Paul truly innocent, and
will he resolve his family issues and regain the love and trust of his cherished
By virtue of its content, National Treasure can be uncomfortable watching;
nevertheless it is a remarkable and convincing drama that is well written and
superbly cast. Absolutely absorbing.
The series helps to highlight the traumas of sexual assault in the wake of the
discovery of abusers in the public eye. At times it comes across as something
of a docu-drama and features guest stars Robert Webb, Alan Carr, Frank Skinner,
Lee Mack and Victoria Derbyshire.
National Treasure also features: Babou Ceesay as Jerome; Nadine Marshall
as D I Palmer; Mark Lewis Jones as Gerry; Jeremy Swift as Simon; Rosalind Elezavas
as Georgina; Vivienne Bell as Stella; Lucy Speed as Young Marie; Trystan Gravello
as Young Paul; Cara Barton as Young Dee; Ed Eales-White as Young Karl; and Sarah
Middleton as Young Rebecca.
Music is by Cristobal Tapia de Veer; Director of Photography is Ole Birkeland;
Written by Jack Thorne; Produced by John Chapman; and Directed by Marc Mundan.
a run on Channel 4 the controversial series National Treasure is released
on DVD in the UK, courtesy of RLJ Entertainment's Acorn Label on 31 October
2016. Running Time: Approximately 180 Minutes | Catalogue Number: AV3339 | RRP:
"National Treasure can be uncomfortable watching; nevertheless it is
a remarkable and convincing drama that is well written and superbly cast. Absolutely
absorbing" Maggie Woods
"An utterly compelling case of wait and see" *****Telegraph