Written by acclaimed novelist Roddy Doyle and directed by Michael Winterbottom, Family is a searing television drama that aired on BBC One and RTÉ One in 1994.
Family is a compelling, characteristically no-frills look at life in an Irish suburb, where Charlo Spencer's violent behaviour, infidelities and criminal activities are pushing his wife and children to breaking point. The original transmission was a watershed moment in Irish TV history, leading to an outcry and national debate about domestic violence.
Family centres on the Spencers, a family living in a Dublin housing project. Charlo, played by Seán McGinley, is the abusive and cheating husband of Paula, played by Ger Ryan. They have four children: teenagers John Paul and Nicola, and younger children Leanne and Jack.
Told over four episodes, each one devoted to a different family member, this series gives an often harrowing picture of Irish working class life in the 1990s. The first episode focuses on Charlo; the abusive, alcoholic father and husband who makes his living as a small-time crook. Episode two takes up the story of rebellious teenager, John Paul, just as he’s starting secondary school.
The third instalment tells the story from the perspective of Nicola, who works in a clothing factory and has a particularly strained relationship with her father. In the fourth and final part we meet the emotionally and physically battered matriarch, Paula, who reclaims her identity by throwing Charlo out of the house and getting a job.
Family is a compelling, characteristically no-frills look at life in an Irish suburb, where Charlo Spencer's violent behaviour, infidelities and criminal activities are pushing his wife and children to breaking point.
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