Responder

The Responder (BBC)

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What a way to take his final curtain. Bernard Hill, an actor of unmatched power, and celebrated by two generations for vastly different roles, died yesterday — hours before his final performance aired.

As fraught copper Chris Carson answered a call to a burgled house in The Responder, those who (like me) have been fans of Hill since the 1980s took one look at the geezer in the battered armchair with the walking frame and chorused: ‘Gissa job!’

He might have been better known to the under-50s as the heroic King Theoden in The Lord Of The Rings. But at the start of the Thatcher years, Hill was Britain’s best-known actor — the face of the recession — playing Yosser Hughes, a Scouse tarmac-layer who loses his job, in Boys From The Blackstuff.

Yosser was unemployable but desperate to work. His catchphrases — ‘Gissa job!’ and ‘I can do that!’ — became national slogans.

Bernard Hill, an actor of unmatched power, and celebrated by two generations for vastly different roles, died yesterday ¿ hours before his final performance aired

Bernard Hill, an actor of unmatched power, and celebrated by two generations for vastly different roles, died yesterday — hours before his final performance aired

As fraught copper Chris Carson (right) answered a call to a burgled house in The Responder, those who (like me) have been fans of Hill since the 1980s took one look at the geezer in the battered armchair with the walking frame and chorused: 'Gissa job!'

As fraught copper Chris Carson (right) answered a call to a burgled house in The Responder, those who (like me) have been fans of Hill since the 1980s took one look at the geezer in the battered armchair with the walking frame and chorused: ‘Gissa job!’

Hill, who was 79, worked little on telly in recent years, picking his jobs with clinical care. Right to the end, his screen presence was undimmed. Merely sitting in front of the TV and glowering in The Responder, he exuded a malevolent power that far exceeded all the threats and violence of this drugs-and-corruption drama.

His reunion with the son he hadn’t seen for years was also the most foul-mouthed scene of a very sweary episode. I counted more than 80 F-words in the hour, which might be the highest ratio since Peter Capaldi‘s turn as a spin doctor in The Thick Of It.

When Hill, playing a miserable old git called Tom, protested that he always loved his son, patrol car driver Chris (Martin Freeman) exploded: ‘Bleep off! Don’t bleeping say that! You bleeping loved us? I remember you putting my bleeping head through a door just because I spilt your bleeping baccy on the kitchen lino, old bleeping bleep. Bleeping love? Bleep!’

This grimly gripping thriller by Tony Schumacher started with the scorched intensity of 2022’s first series, and floored the accelerator. Living in squalor and facing eviction, Chris loathes his job rounding up drunks and crackheads, and is constantly fighting the temptation to take backhanders. At the urging of his old boss, who promises him life behind a desk as a reward, he agrees to frame a drug dealer. That goes wrong so quickly, he’s facing the threat of ten years in prison before his shift is over.

Hill, who was 79, worked little on telly in recent years, picking his jobs with clinical care. Right to the end, his screen presence was undimmed. Pictured: Brendan Hill with Martin Freeman (second right) and Myanna Buring (far right)

Hill, who was 79, worked little on telly in recent years, picking his jobs with clinical care. Right to the end, his screen presence was undimmed. Pictured: Brendan Hill with Martin Freeman (second right) and Myanna Buring (far right)

The allusions to varieties of illegal activity come so thick and fast that viewers need a criminal mind to understand all the implications.

When rookie cop Rachel (Adelayo Adedayo) spins off the road and crashes into a hedge, her partner Eric (Ian Puleston-Davies) reacts with stunned gratitude: ‘You just bought me a new conservatory.’

He’s talking about compensation for fake whiplash injuries.

A scam like that would never occur to Yosser Hughes.

 

 



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