What To Watch This Week: Patrick Melrose

What To Watch This Week: Patrick Melrose

Benedict Cumberbatch is on fine form as the eponymous eye patch-clad playboy Patrick Melrose in this new five-part series focusing on severe drug abuse and recovery in high society. Here’s why the show should make it onto your must-watch list this week…

What’s it about?

Edward St Aubyn's acclaimed semi-autobiographical novels of the same name have been distilled into a five-part mini-series by writer David Nicholls (the man who wrote and produced One Day and adapted Starter for Ten for the screen). As the title suggests, the books focus on Patrick Melrose, an aristocrat with a dark past and a drug problem.

As per the five books, which were written between 1992 and 2011, each episode in the Sky Atlantic series focuses on a different chapter in Melrose’s life, which depict his upbringing at the hands of a sickeningly abusive father, through to his heroin-addled days at Oxford, and scrounging for syringes in 1980s New York.

Who stars in it?

Aside from Cumberbatch (who’s on fine form), the series stars Jennifer Jason Leigh (Weeds, The Hateful Eight) and Hugo Weaving (The Matrix, Lord of the Rings, V for Vendetta) as the protagonist’s dysfunctional parents, while RSC actress Anna Madeley (The Crown, Mr Selfridge) plays his dutiful wife.

Elsewhere, Girls and Get Out actress Allison Williams plays ‘acquaintance’ Marianne, while Blythe Danner (Meet the Parents, Will & Grace) is cast as Melrose’s wealthy American aunt, Nancy. 

Will I like it?

This is an unblinking portrait of sexual and substance abuse (at the height of his addiction, Melrose was getting through around £5,000-worth of drugs a week), and despite the beautifully shot scenes throughout, there are moments that are extremely painful to watch. That being said, this savagery is constantly pierced by Melrose’s dry humour – particularly surrounding his father’s funeral.

The stakes were high when it came to producing this for TV. St Aubyn, now 58, has described the process of writing the books as his saviour from suicide, while Cumberbatch has said in the past that Hamlet and Melrose were the only two roles on his bucket-list (and now he’s ticked off both, having played the Danish king at the Barbican in 2015).

Even after watching just one episode, it’s hard to imagine the role of Melrose being played by anyone but the Sherlock star. Judging by the first few episodes alone, it would appear that this adaptation was worth the wait for all involved.

Where can I watch it?

Episodes one and two of Patrick Melrose are available to stream on NowTV. A new episode will be added to NowTV and shown live on Sky Atlantic at 9pm every Sunday.

Visit NowTV.com

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