Single-Handed (TV series)
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|Written by||Barry Simner|
|Directed by||Colm McCarthy (series 1) |
Antony Byrne (series 2–3)
|Country of origin||Ireland|
|No. of series||4|
|No. of episodes||12|
|Producer||Element Pictures/Touchpaper Television Productions|
|Running time||47 min|
|Original network||RTÉ One|
|Original release||18 March 2007 –|
12 December 2010
Single-Handed is an Irish television drama series, first broadcast on RTÉ Television in 2007. Set and filmed in the west of Ireland, it focuses on the life of a member of the Garda Síochána (police), Sergeant Jack Driscoll (played by Owen McDonnell). Three two-episode, single-story series aired one each on consecutive nights in 2007, 2008 and 2009. Series Four, consisting of three stories told over six episodes, began in RTÉ One November 2010.
The first series was shot in October 2006. It was directed by Colm McCarthy; the second and third by Antony Byrne. Barry Simner wrote the screenplay. It was co-produced by Touchpaper Television Productions and Element Pictures. Clare Alan also produced the third series.
In 2009, all three series were broadcast in the United Kingdom on ITV, as double-length, two-hour episodes on three consecutive Sundays, from 2–16 August.
Owen McDonnell was given the lead role of Garda Sergeant Jack Driscoll after receiving a call from casting director Maureen Hughes. Appearing onstage in The Lieutenant of Inishmore in the Town Hall, Galway at the time, McDonnell, alongside two other cast members, left for Dublin to read a script for the original Single-Handed director Colm McCarthy. He was given the lead role one day later.
The series has been consistently popular in Ireland since its first broadcast, with the first series receiving a 40% audience share. However, leading actor Owen McDonnell has been able to escape a significant increase in recognition by the general public as, according to him, "once you're out of the uniform you're fairly anonymous".
John Boland, writing in the Irish Independent, praised the original Single-Handed for its "taut and suggestive" screenplay. Heralding it as "the real deal" and "that rare oddity—an RTE drama that works" and drawing comparisons to the Roman Polanski film Chinatown, he said "it didn't lose its nerve by resorting to far-fetched plot twists or ludicrous melodrama". Boland's report on the sequel indicated his view that it "wasn't as arresting as its predecessor but it was a superior drama all the same". Boland viewed Single-Handed: The Drowning Man as also being a "superior drama" whilst "a sense of place was arrestingly captured, too".
Gavin Corbett, writing in the Sunday Tribune, dismissed the original series as "an uninspired piece of writing brought to some sort of lugubrious half-life, superficially engaging for a while, but growing more and more ponderous and pofaced the longer it went on over its two nights". Patrick Freyne, also writing in the Sunday Tribune, called Single-Handed 3 "all puffed up with a melodramatic 'I-can't-believe-it's-not-drama' form of drama in which people glare at one another, shout, are unhelpfully abrasive for no reason, and give each other symbolic bullets".
The UK debut of Single-Handed received 4 million viewers which is a large viewership number.
The Daily Telegraph, a broadsheet in the UK, said Single-Handed was "distinctly classy" and "not soft-centred. In fact it's more like biting into an apple only to find there's a worm in it". The regional newspaper, Leicester Mercury, remarked that it "confounds expectations from the very beginning", saying "it was dark, not dreary. And slow, not stupid. There wasn't even a hint of Irish whimsy about it. No-one's eyes twinkled, humorously. No fiddly jigs and reels drifted from the pub. And no-one—praise be—mentioned the damned craic".
When Single-Handed eventually aired in the UK in 2009, Boland noted the reactions of the British newspaper critics, remarking satirically on how "The Guardian's Sam Wollaston and The Independent's Tom Sutcliffe couldn't contain their surprise that dark doings lurked behind the 'stunning scenery' of this Irish Hoirtbeat. Faith and begorrah, lads, shure we're even in the EU".
Irish Film and Television Awards
|Year||Nominee / work||Award||Result|
Seoul International Drama Awards
Single Handed 3: The Drowning Man received two nominations at the Seoul International Drama Awards. Anthony Byrne was nominated in the Best Director category and Barry Simner was nominated in the Best Writer category.
|Year||Nominee / work||Award||Result|
|2009||Anthony Byrne||Best Director||Nominated|
|2009||Barry Simner||Best Writer||Nominated|
|Episodes||Title||Director||Writer||Original air date|
|Colm McCarthy||Barry Simner||18 & 19 March 2007|
|In the first series, titled Home on RTÉ and Natural Justice on ITV, Sergeant Driscoll returns to his home town from Dublin, replacing his retired father, Sergeant Gerry Driscoll (Ian McElhinney). He soon realises that his father is involved in some sinister occurrences. He investigates the mysterious death of a young eastern European woman and by the end of the episode he has had sex with another woman who he later finds is his half-sister.|
|2.1–2.2||"The Stolen Child"||Antony Byrne||Barry Simner||1 & 2 January 2008|
|Sergeant Driscoll searches for a kidnapped toddler from a dysfunctional family background. There are also two subplots involving a teacher suspected to be a paedophile and the appearance of Driscoll's father at a tribunal, the latter echoing the factual events of the long-running Morris Tribunal. Actors such as Ian McElhinney, in the role of corrupt garda, and Charlene McKenna, in the role of distraught mother, received praise following the second series. Also with Caroline Catz.|
|3.1–3.2||"The Drowning Man"||Antony Byrne||Barry Simner||12 & 13 April 2009|
|Sergeant Driscoll receives a late-night phone call informing him that a young man is drowning. Jack finds this is connected with an undercover anti-drug operation against a wealthy businessman with connections to the IRA, a mole and Sergeant Driscoll's encounter with his former lover, Maura Dooley (played by Marcella Plunkett). Pádraic Delaney features in the role of Detective Garda Sergeant Michael Casey, an undercover agent.|
|4.1–4.2||"The Lost Boys"||Thaddeus O'Sullivan||Barry Simner||7 & 14 November 2010|
|A visit from Jack's English cousin Brian leads to the unearthing of a devastating family secret, and the Garda sergeant must also deal with a troubled teenager who is the chief suspect in the murder of an elderly recluse. Sean McGinley, as the new pub owner, Dennis Costello; Matthew McNulty, as Jack's newfound cousin, Brian Doyle; and Simone Lahbib, as his photographer girlfriend, Gemma, join the cast in Season 4. Stephen Rea guest stars.|
|4.3–4.4||"Between Two Fires"||Charlie McCarthy||Colin Teevan||21 & 28 November 2010|
|Jack investigates a suspicious fire at a troubled housing development, but his loyalties are tested by the suspicion that an old friend may have been responsible. Meanwhile, Gemma falls out with Brian over his plan to stake a claim to Eithne's land.|
|4.5–4.6||"A Cold Heaven"||Thaddeus O'Sullivan||Clive Bradley||5 & 12 December 2010|
|Jack investigates a car accident involving a local teenager, and suspects that the girl is in an abusive relationship. However, he is unable to focus on the case due to tensions back at home, where he continues to be the subject of Brian's simmering hatred. Lorcan Cranitch guest stars.|
Under the name "Jack Driscoll," the series was aired at least twice in Denmark on the primary Public Service channel DR 1. The episodes have been put together in manner customary for Danish TV series, and therefore have a length of around 90 to 100 minutes (DR uses no advertising).
In Finland the national broadcaster Yle (no commecial breaks) aired the first three seasons during 2017–2018. The second run was in the spring/summer of 2020, now with the ending fourth season. In Finland "Single Handed" goes under the name "Vastavirtaan", meaning Against the Current, depicting Jack Driscoll's task as a righteous man against the darkness lurking behind the rugged mountain and coast scenery. The typical viewer slot is the same as with many other gloomy police drama: late in the Saturday evening. As usual, too, the episodes are cut in halves, so that part 1/2 and 2/2 are aired in consecutive Saturdays, making one season six episodes together, then continuing staight with the next season.
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- Single-Handed – The Lost Boys: Part 1 at IMDb
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- Plunkett, John (3 August 2009). "TV ratings: Imported drama Single-Handed debuts with more than 4m on ITV". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 10 August 2009.
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- "TV Review: Single Handed". Leicester Mercury. 3 August 2009. Retrieved 10 August 2009.
- Sutcliffe, Tom (3 August 2009). "The Weekend's Television: Single-Handed, ITV1, Sun". The Independent. London. Retrieved 10 August 2009.
- "nice scenery, shame about the show..." Irish Independent. 18 August 2009. Retrieved 10 August 2009.
- "IFTA Winners Announced". Irish Film and Television Network. 18 February 2008. Retrieved 10 August 2009.
- Hegarty, Shane (9 January 2008). "IFTA nominations arrive in attempt to derail Choice Music Prize announcement". The Irish Times. Retrieved 10 August 2009.
- "Two Nominations for "Single Handed 3" Drama". RTÉ. 16 July 2009. Retrieved 10 August 2009.
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- "THE DAILY HIGH 5". RTÉ Guide. 10 April 2009. Archived from the original on 22 August 2009. Retrieved 10 August 2009.
- "Single-Handed 4". RTÉ.ie. Retrieved 6 December 2010.
- "New Irish TV dramas coming to RTÉ". RTÉ.ie. 12 July 2010. Retrieved 12 July 2010.