Remember Me, which began on BBC 1 this evening, is a three part story of the supernatural written by Gwyneth Hughes and starring Michael Palin as Tom Parfitt and Jodie Comer as a young care worker called Hannah. The first episode seemed to me to strike a successful balance, introducing a number of mostly engaging characters and an intriguing set-up, without making it too clear what was actually going on.
Getting that balance right in a supernatural story that takes the form of a serial is easier said than done. The Intruders overdid the complications in episode one to such an extent that I haven't summoned up the enthusiasm to watch any more of it. The Secret of Crickley Hall was better, but not unduly subtle. Part of the interest here lay in the casting of Palin, an agreeable chap playing an equivocal and rather sinister old man who fakes a fall at home in order to move into a care home. Jodie Comer was also very good as the young carer who took a shine to him - even after a woman falls to her death after entering Tom's room in the care home.
A firmly realised setting is, I think, a big asset in a ghost story, and Hughes did very well to ground the action in a gritty Yorkshire setting. The contrast with the surreal goings-on in the storyline was thus made all the more effective. The care home is a converted mill - of the kind in which my grandmother, a Yorkshirewoman herself, worked many, many years ago - and there are numerous references to Scarborough, one of my favourite resorts. And the folk tune "Scarborough Fair" plays a spooky part in the mystery, as does a mysterious photograph of a young boy..
A credible background, and characters we can identify with, help viewers (or readers) to overcome their reservations about any potential silliness in a ghost story. Hughes managed to keep me interested from start to finish, and even to distract me from revising my draft novel. Well, any excuse will do, I suppose, but I don't mean to damn Remember Me with faint praise. It was very watchable, and I plan to watch next week as well.