We understand that when stuck in lockdown, viewers might not want to watch TV about others in the same circumstances: verdicts on Jamie Oliver and Steph McGovern’s home-made shows on Channel 4 have been mixed. Sometimes however, the constraints lead to something quite special, and that is the case with Sheridan Smith’s performance in Isolation Stories.
In The Telegraph Anita Singh praises Sheridan Smith’s “typically fine performance as a woman spiralling into anxiety. It was as good as a 15-minute drama could be, taking us in unexpected directions… Isolation Stories is far from perfect, but series creator Jeff Pope should be applauded for his ingenuity.” Also receiving applause is Smith’s real-life fiancé who filmed the thing, and really pretty well.
As The Independent’s Alexandra Pollard wryly commented: “There’s not much to hide when you’re filming in circumstances like these, so episode writer Gaby Chiappe made the most of Smith’s real-life baby bump… Still, as a well-crafted time capsule of these strange and unprecedented times, Isolation Stories works wonders.” Lucy Mangan in The Guardian thinks “there is something incredibly emotionally restorative and mentally uplifting – as there has been, we must assume, since the dawn of human time – about stories that reflect and make at least narrative sense of our experiences… Isolation Stories shall fairly stand as the first televisual jewel in the Covid-era crown.”
Whilst we are all desperate to escape the lockdown and return to the big budget dramas of not so long ago, programmes like Isolation Stories will serve as a testament to the very strange times that we live in. With this first episode of the four by far the best, it’s certainly worth checking out. From a safe distance, of course.
Isolation Stories first shown May 2020. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.