No, this well-loved British entertainer is an ageing comic with his best years behind him, one half of an iconic double act. He wasn't a habitue of the Palace or a Christmas guest at Chequers. He didn't have carte blanche to roam the corridors of the nation's hospitals, prisons and children's homes. No-one at the TV company he worked for had any inkling of him being a sex-beast. Well, perhaps his comedy partner did, but certainly not anyone in any position of authority.
But that said, having acknowledged that issues have been dodged, this has been a damn good series. The word "masterpiece" is in the air and I'm half inclined to pluck it out. It's a closet drama, concentrating on the people in the comic's immediate circle- himself, his wife, daughter and partner- their sufferings, evasions and shifting loyalties. Melodrama stands at street corners, beckoning like an evil clown and is mostly given a wide berth- especially at the end- where melodrama would have been acceptable but evading it is even better. The direction is nervy, the camerawork expressionist. The final episode- much of it taking place in the courtroom- is harrowing.
Coltrane is inspired casting; he's a national treasure himself- and there's always been that ambiguity about him: sweet cuddly fat man or Glaswegian hardnut? Waters does grey and grim as though Mrs Overall had never existed, Riseborough is all naked wires and flying sparks, McInnerny is the shell of a man who used to be funny. No-one is monstered, no-one is exonerated. You come away thinking just how bloody hard it is to be good.