Some mild spoilers for Our House episode 1 below.
Fi Lawson is enjoying a stroll down her affluent suburban South London street after a short break away. As she prepares to walk onto her path and up to her front door, two men cut in front of her carrying furniture inside the house.
She doesn’t remember ordering any large items before she went away. Even if she had, why is the door open? And who is the woman ushering the men in, keys in her hand…? There’s been some sort of mix-up, surely. Something’s certainly going on and it’s worse than Fi first thinks.
The house, it transpires, has been sold without her knowledge. The woman? One of the new owners. The opulent large-fronted terrace has been emptied, stripped and is now being refilled. The ‘new owners’ have the keys and a contract that’s – apparently – been co-signed by Fi. It’s a nightmare. A bizarre and unsettling one.
As an audience we’re all immediately thrown into the scenario. Each of us is prompted to ask ourselves the question: ‘what would we do in that situation?!’
If you recognise the premise of Our House, it may well be because you’re familiar with the source material. This new ITV drama is based on Louise Candlish’s bestselling 2018 novel.
So what’s happened exactly? Has Fiona Lawson – played by Tuppence Middleton (The Imitation Game, Mank) – somehow been transported to a parallel universe? Well, no. While it’s odd, it can – and does – happen. It’s generally an obscure type of fraud that requires absent owners to take their eye off the ball. In this case, we soon learn that Fi’s husband Bram, played by Line of Duty’s Martin Compston complete with his native Scottish accent, is very likely behind the secret sale.
Compston, for his part, does a good job of making Bram – that’s Bram with an ‘M’, not an ‘N’… so like Stoker, not Flakes – something of a mercurial character. He’s an impulsive, lying, smarmy salesman adulterer, sure. While at the same time being a good dad who genuinely does, or at least did, seem to love his wife.
Flashbacks paint a wider picture. Theirs is a strained relationship permeated by affairs, separation, lies and plenty more we’ll likely find out about in the next three parts later this week. Early on here, Fi walked in on Bram getting down and dirty with a friend of the couple in the kids’ Wendy house. Cue quite possibly the least convincing, not to mention most optimistic, use of the phrase ‘It’s not what it looks like’ ever uttered.
The couple split and Bram moves out. Things are tense, but just as Fi appears to soften and extend an olive branch, the final scene shows Bram acting recklessly once again and contributing towards a nasty car accident while under the influence of complimentary top shelf works drinks. It seems likely to be an incident which will not only snap Fi’s olive branch but could well see the introduction of another character teased in Our House’s trailer… the enigmatic Toby, played by Rupert Penry-Jones (Spooks, The Batman).
So far, so intriguing. As an opener, this first part has wet our whistle. Tuppence Middleton is an accomplished actress, so we’re looking forward to seeing more from her as her stoicism is put further to the test as the plot heats up and the chicanery escalates.
Did you tune in for Our House episode 1? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…
Spoilers for Our House episode 2 below. Still catching up? Read Steve’s review of episode 1 here.
According to ITV’s 9pm dramas, there are only really three types of property in Britain:
● Grim high-rise urban flats surrounded by violence and murder (The Tower)
● Shambling old cottages with no electricity used mostly for hiding out in (Vera)
● Incredibly decorated and lavish five-bedroom suburban houses worth millions (Hollington Drive, Angela Black)
The third channel’s latest thriller, Our House, features a jaw-droppingly beautiful double-fronted property very much from that final option at the centre of its action. So central is 91 Trinity Avenue to the plot, it’s almost a character in itself.
You can see why Tuppence Middleton’s Fi Lawson is as devastated as she is by the bizarre situation which has seen her come home one day to find that her giant homestead has been sold without her knowledge. It’s a beautiful, if slightly too blue, place to lose. By the end of Tuesday evening’s second episode, it looked fairly certain as though she had lost it too. The couple moving in could prove that their names were on the deeds…
What and who is behind this great big property scam? Well, Fi’s estranged husband Bram (Martin Compston) is involved. Is he a vindictive type out to screw over his ex? Well, no. Poor old Bram is merely a puppet. He’s caught up in a blackmail sting involving a woman called ‘Wendy’ and her partner in crime, a certain blonde-haired chap who we’re introduced to here halfway through the episode.
Bram’s dalliance with neighbour Merle caused his and Fi’s separation and created a fracture that, we discover, two dastardly fraudsters were only too glad to crowbar into a chasm. A coerced car accident and two honey traps later and we’re all set up for a thrilling and a bumpy ride over the next two nights.
Middleton and Compston remain strong and enjoyable leads here, while the addition of Rupert Penry-Jones (Whitechapel) as smoothie Toby adds a touch of class to proceedings. Perhaps the standout performer in this second part, however, is relative newcomer Buket Komur as Wendy. She floats around scenes menacingly, with an almost ghostly, succubus kind of aura.
We meet Wendy at the bar in the pub Bram’s drowning his sorrows in after he discovers the car crash he fled the scene of left a woman dead and a child in a coma. A very quick seduction on her part later and the pair are sharing a post-coital smoke in Bram and Fi’s ‘birdnest’ studio apartment. Minutes later, the set-up is revealed. It’s a shakedown. Bram has to come up with some cash or Wendy – an apparent eyewitness to the crash – will grass him up.
A quick word about that bedsit Bram and Fi separately co-habit and constantly criticise, if we may… Okay, so it doesn’t have a huge amount of natural light, but in terms of studio flats in the capital, it’s huge. Fi and Bram might be used to a giant £2m abode, but there are plenty of Londoners who could only dream of being able to afford to rent solo digs like that in Zone 2.
Meanwhile, Fi is embarking upon her own (slightly more deserved) dalliance. Handsome charmer Toby, who she gets talking to in a lift at work, asks her out. The pair grow close and the bedsprings at the flat are soon given more work to do. Well dressed, good-looking and charismatic, Penry-Jones’ Toby is almost too good to be true. Which means, of course, that he is.
As the halfway point of Our House approached, the first twist was revealed – Wendy and Toby are working together. The initial plan was to shake a few grand from Bram’s pockets, but now? The target is much bigger… It’s Their House.
Did you tune in for Our House episode 2? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…
Some spoilers for Our House episode 3 below. Still catching up? Read Steve’s review of episode 2 here.
Rupert Penry-Jones’ Toby/Mike is clearly as persuasive as he is dastardly. Yet even so, would you sell your £2m home, turfing your wife and kids out on the street and disappear abroad with a fake passport just because he told you to…?
We understand that it’s blackmail. But even with the spectre of the whole driving-away-from-the-car-accident thing, we’re not sure we’d go through with it. However compelling and ripped Toby/Mike is without a shirt on.
Still, Martin Compston’s Bram was convinced in this penultimate episode of ITV’s newest mystery drama. And somehow he sold the house, settled the mortgage and did an incredible amount of admin all extremely secretively. It’s a little bit hokey, sure, but we’re still firmly on side. Our House is a work of fiction, after all. And besides, fans of true crime documentary series on Netflix will know just how elaborate and brazen some con man schemes can get.
Whether you buy into the central premise being realistic or not, it’s a fairly straightforward one. While we anticipate the odd curveball or two chucked our way in Thursday night’s finale, we’re pretty sure we’ll be able to follow the action.
When the plot is mostly an uncomplicated affair, programme makers need to ensure that the thing is well made. You can be forgiven the odd duff performance or a slightly hackneyed script if there’s twists, turns and explosions. Not so much when the drama is an unfussy affair like Our House.
So it’s a good job that the writing is on point and the central cast are all absolute pros working at the top of their game. Tuppence Middleton, Martin Compston and Rupert Penry-Jones are all pitch perfect here. It’s all about these three, so much so that you could easily see this ITV four-parter rewritten for the stage. In fact, with the minimal set locations on screen, Our House would make a great little play.
Back to the plot and in the present day, Bram has scarpered. Not only that but it appears that he hasn’t handed the cash over to fraudsters Toby/Mike and Wendy, either. Instead, he pitched up at an airport, seemingly about to slop off. Has he left everyone in the lurch? Or has he cut his estranged wife Fi into a secret plan that will see them with the cash and the hucksters hung out to dry?
Keen to find the missing Scotsman, Penry-Jones’ character takes Fi to help look for him. As he drives, he lets slip that he knows slightly too much about the couple, arousing Fi’s suspicions. Who can she trust as we go into Thursday evening’s fourth and final part…? Oddly, it seems her most trustworthy ally is her best friend and neighbour Merle. You know, the woman who got jiggy with Bram in the playhouse…
Life’s funny that way. Or at least it is in ITV dramas. Most of our lives are so much duller than all this, aren’t they? Thank goodness.
We’re happy to take our excitement vicariously. Our next dose will be arriving at 9pm on Thursday as this series based on Louise Candlish’s hit book reaches its nail biting conclusion.
Did you tune in for Our House episode 3? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…
Spoilers for Our House episode 4 below. Still catching up? Read Steve’s review of episode 3 here.
All week, Martin Compston’s character here has been in trouble. He was only allowed peace and happiness up until the first ad break all the way back on Monday. Since then it’s been non-stop grief for the unusually-named Bram (nope, we’ve still not got used to it either).
In truth, it was hard to feel too sorry for him. And not just because he was a salesman. Not only was he a serial adulterer, he also – sort of – ended up killing an eight-year-old girl here in Our House. Okay, so it was an accident and he wasn’t directly responsible, but still. He could’ve saved her with a bit of courage and a better calibrated moral compass.
Of course, Bram’s wife Fi didn’t exactly have it easy here, either. Her husband slept with her best friend, her new boyfriend turned out to be a crook and her house got sold out from under her. It never rains but it pours, eh?
A week and four episodes later and, well, it doesn’t get any better for either of them. In fact, it got a whole lot worse.
If we’re brutally honest, this fourth and final part left us a tiny bit nonplussed. We can’t fault the plotting; the story never sagged or dragged and everything was tied up by the end. It’s just that, quite early on in Thursday night’s climax, we had a realisation… we were finding it slightly difficult to really care what happened to any of the main characters.
We’ve enjoyed Tuppence Middleton, Martin Compston and Rupert Penry-Jones’ performances over the week, but when all the characters are a bit cold, it’s easy to find yourself not really on any of their sides. We supposed Fi was the most innocent, but at the midway point here she killed Toby/Mike with an accidental overdose of pills and reacted with the kind of dead-eyes you’d expect from a post-kill cobra, not a suburban mother.
While we’re on that subject of Toby/Mike’s death – even the most wine ignorant amongst us would likely taste a packet of sleeping pills AND a packet of antidepressants crushed up into half a bottle of Shiraz, surely?!
Perhaps the point was that we weren’t supposed to be rooting for any of the three. After all, it didn’t exactly end well for any of them, did it?
In trying to do the right thing by his wife, Bram quite cleverly re-scammed the £1.79m from Toby/Mike and Wendy and sent it to Fi. He then recorded a confession meant to get her off the hook, before taking his own life in the Jet d’Eau water fountain in Geneva. Only in doing so, he inadvertently put her squarely in the frame for Toby/Mike’s murder/manslaughter. Bloody Bram, even from his watery grave he’s ruining everything.
It’s the two kids you really have to feel sorry for. Well, you would if they were real. Perhaps they’re whose side we’re on.
All in all, though, it’s been a fun enough week’s drama, with enough to keep us watching and guessing. And it was pleasing to see the plot stick very closely to the source material. All too often TV adaptations take liberties with the books they’re based on. This ITV drama was nearly identical in terms of story to Louise Candlish’s 2018 page turner. And it was all the better for it.
Did you tune in for Our House episode 4? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…