For some reason re-reading Starter for Ten whilst at university has become a ritual to me. It’s set at university. It’s an easy read and has a satisfying ending. Thankfully it doesn’t follow the same happy-ever-after cliché found in a regular romance novel.
Like most of David Nicholls’ work, the development of the synopsis follows a similar pattern, in which a blossoming romance runs into a sudden calamity, but ends well, even if it is not the ideal ending we would want. The 7.39 follows a similar model. David Morrissey and Sheridan Smith are two midlife-crisis, commuter belters who meet on the same train, and embark on an affair. Their relationship develops by the most un-British of methods; having conversations on trains. The monotony of commuting is not so monotonous anymore and so “the worst part of the day become the best part of the day”.
Smith and Morrissey (alas, not the musical sort) are well-chosen in the leading roles. Morrissey looks and acts the part; tired, greying, resentful of his youthful (though many may still find him acceptable enough as eye candy), while Smith is the younger, attractive health club manager who doesn’t conform to any Hollywood stereotype of a leading lady. Flavour of the month, Olivia Colman is a particularly well-chosen actress and her ability to convey even the deepest emotions make the drama worth watching for her acting alone.
Anybody with a brain can spend a day or an evening in something David Nicholls. However, it is that this particular love story lacks the awkwardness of Nicholls past where it’s strength lies. It’s not cheesy like One Day or The Understudy and you can watch this show with your other half and feel quite romantic by the end. Even if the ending doesn’t involve a man in a Navy uniform carrying his beau in his arms.
Photo: Property of the telegraph.co.uk