In fact, our ambivalence to the final result, in which accused comedian Paul Finchley was revealed to be guilty via flashback yet walk away with a not guilty verdict, was the defining feeling of the entire show. National Treasure was always going to be a tough show to watch but few, not least I, expected it to be extraordinar.y. Finchley could’ve been non-guilty, reinforcing the idea that women lie about sexual assault or he could’ve been guilty and we would’ve spent four episodes sympathising with an abuser.
There’s a dark presence hanging over National Treasure, however, it’s less to do with the subject matter being expertly handled by writer Jack Thorne, but rather the menacing, satirical paranoia that comes from the technical imagination of the visual and sound design. From the opening shot, where accused comedian Paul Finchley (Robbie Coltrane) stands in a dark alley, nervously pacing up and down, we get the sense that there’s an underlying darkness to everything.
Inspiration for fictional television drama is often found in real life stories, then amplified tenfold to heighten the spectacle. Jack Thorne’s 4 parter for Channel 4 is treading a finely worked path with no need to exaggerate, as National Treasure draws from the shocking Yewtree operation. Robbie Coltrane plays a Mr Popular-and-Funny ageing comic, Paul Finchley, presenting awards now instead of receiving them, whose world crashes down when a casual knock on his door heralds a cheery police officer informing him he’s been accused of rape.
Which is why it’s so surprising to hear that actual A-list star Julie Walters has expressed an interest in competing on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here - although she’s worried that she might be too old to take part now.