Few recent shows have captured the reality of grief quite like Finding Alice.
Hawes – excellent, as ever – plays the titular Alice, who is forced to come to terms with life after the sudden passing of her partner Harry. She uses humour as a coping mechanism, as she stumbles through day to day life supporting her daughter Charlotte in their new home. It’s one of the strongest and blackly comedic performances of Hawes’s career.
It’s a moving watch, as the subject matter would suggest. But its power is not in the drama’s inherent heartache, but in the show’s portrayal of the gruelling banality of grief.
Alice’s suffering isn’t experienced in rushes of raw emotion, but as a slow slog. It plays out as she ticks off a long list of arduous tasks – from informing friends and family, to dealing with money issues, accessing bank accounts in the name of the deceased and so many other unforeseen jobs and technicalities.
Portraying these overlooked realities was important to the creators of the show, and was built into the creative process from the beginning.
Keeley Hawes leads the cast of Finding Alice (Picture: ITV)
Roger Goldby, who co-created the series with Keeley and Simon Nye, told Metro.co.uk and other press that it was important to be honest as possible with the drama.
‘It’s [about] all the stuff that you have to kind of carry on with,’ he said. ‘Your bank accounts can be frozen, you may have no money for two or three weeks. The very fact of telling other people what’s happened, all these things. I think it’s very truthful.’
He added: ‘We wanted to tell a story that didn’t shy away from any truth and pain, but also embrace the humour. That was very important for us to weave that into the story, because that’s very natural. It’s very organic, and comes out of those situations. I know I for one use humour as a coping mechanism.’
Hawes also spoke about the importance of capturing real experiences in her role.
The actress said: ‘I can’t be responsible for people’s grief. The way that we all experience grief is unique to all of us, be it for a parent or for a child or for a pet, it’s unique to our own situations. I can’t be responsible for that, but I hope people relate.’
Finding Alice begins at 9pm on January 17 on ITV.