SCREEN TWO: THE PRECIOUS BLOOD (TV)

Summary

One in this anthology drama series. This installment follows the lives of two Northern Ireland families still haunted by The Troubles years after the ceasefire. The story begins as a woman, Rosie, lays flowers at her former home while elsewhere her son John flees from the cops after shoplifting. At a church, Billy McVea preaches about his journey to becoming a born-again Christian, explaining how he has found forgiveness for his sins of the past in God. Rosie grows angry at a news report about Sinn Fein prisoners being released, upset that John seemingly does not care that it is the anniversary of his father's murder. She goes to the police and explains that her husband Paul was shot as he slept beside her in bed twelve years earlier and that the killer has never been caught. She states that it was a "mixed marriage" and that he was a Protestant, sure that the IRA is to blame. At a gym, Billy is harsh with his son Harold as he teaches him to box, observed by his co-workers Sandra and Turk. Later, Billy runs into an old friend and fellow IRA member, Davie, who is now living on the streets, having turned informer for the police. He states that he himself has found God and given up his old ways, though Davie doubts him. Billy then nervously approaches another former colleague, Tom, and admits that he has seen Davie. He asks for mercy for the man, but Tom orders Davie grabbed and presumably killed.

Rosie finds the stolen lad mags and cigarettes under John's bed and burns them. Billy's father Albert refuses to attend dinner at his son's home, exasperated with his religious fervor, and his wife Alice is forced to telephone and make an excuse. Billy's wife Susan calls him out on embarrassing Harold at the gym, but Billy insists that the boy needs discipline. Rosie confronts John about the stolen goods and John is outraged to learn that she has burned them. When Jean, who is a Catholic, intervenes in the argument, he angrily blames her for his father's death. He runs off and soon gets into a street fight against a group of Catholics and ends up seeking refuge in Billy's church. Billy and Susan kindly tend to his injuries, while elsewhere Jean points out that Rosie chose to raise her children Protestant and abandon her Catholic roots, saying that she cares more about a permanent ceasefire than about revenge against Paul's killer. Billy invites John to attend boxing lessons, and John tells his mother about meeting the friendly preacher. Later, Billy frets about Harold to Susan, saying that he did terrible things at that age for which he cannot truly atone, and Susan admits that his mysterious, dark past alarms her. At the gym, John attempts to learn to box and Billy is upset when Sandra knocks him out, saying that he is new to the sport. Sandra observes that Billy is solicitous of John, perhaps as a "replacement" for Harold.

Rosie meets Billy and is pleased to see his kindness towards John. The cops, looking for a name to satisfy Rosie, discover that Paul was actually in the Ulster Volunteer Force and was likely killed by his own allies for turning informer. Rosie visits the gym and admits that she dislikes the violence of boxing, though Billy stresses the importance of channeling aggression in a useful way. She adds that she is not religious, particularly since her husband's death, but Billy presses her to accept God. Jean wonders if Rosie is developing feelings for the pious married man, but Rosie denies it. She is then summoned by the detectives, who break the news about her husband being UVF, and she is devastated to realize that her son has grown up erroneously hating Catholics for murdering his father. The cops admit that they are no closer to finding the true killer, and Rosie visits Jean's Catholic neighborhood for the first time in search of consolation. John brings Billy to his house and talks about his father's death, and when Billy sees a photo of Paul, he is horrorstruck to realize that he himself is in fact the killer. He becomes ill with shock, and John, misunderstanding, prays for his friend's survival. At home, Susan urges Harold to attend Billy's sermon, as Alice and Albert are finally attending as well, though Albert privately declares that his son is a fanatic, first of his political cause and now of religion. Rosie tells John the truth about his father and he flies into a rage, declaring that Paul was murdered because she was a Fenian, and she hits him for the first time in anger. John flees the house and begins pelting random Protestant houses with rocks, ranting that they killed his father, but is soon overcome by an angry mob and violently stoned.

At church, a deeply shaken Billy begins preaching about "coming out of the darkness," but falters when Rosie arrives, looking for John. Jean arrives with a cop and tells her the bad news, and Rosie hurries to the hospital, where John lies unconscious. Billy comes to her side and Rosie, blaming herself for her son's injuries, thanks Billy for being a father figure to John. Billy, crushed by her words, indirectly confesses that he is the true murderer, and she breaks down in grief as she understands. Later, Billy is seen walking alone to the prison, implying that he has turned himself in for his past crimes. Commercials deleted.

Details

  • NETWORK: BBC
  • DATE: June 8, 1996
  • RUNNING TIME: 1:16:00
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: B:46697
  • GENRE: Drama
  • SUBJECT HEADING: Drama
  • SERIES RUN: BBC - TV, 1996
  • COMMERCIALS:

CREDITS

    • Robert Cooper … Executive Producer
    • George Faber … Executive Producer
    • Anthony Rowe … Producer
    • John Woods … Director
    • Graham Reid … Writer
    • Ray Russell … Music by
    • Amanda Burton … Cast, Rosie Willis
    • Kevin McNally … Cast, Billy McVea
    • Michael Legge … Cast, John Willis
    • Cara Kelly … Cast, Susan McVea
    • Gavin Kennedy … Cast, Harold McVea
    • Michelle Fairley … Cast, Jean McBride
    • Catherine Higgins … Cast, Joanne McVea
    • Derek Halligan … Cast, Turk
    • Trevor Moore … Cast, Sinn Fein Spokesman
    • Jim Corry … Cast, Police Constable
    • Tim Loane … Cast, Det. Sgt. Starkie
    • Gerald Crossan … Cast, Det. Con. Galbraith
    • Bronagh Gallagher … Cast, Sandra Williamson
    • Marc O'Shea … Cast, Midge
    • Andrew Roddy … Cast, Davie Bell
    • Margaret D'Arcy … Cast, Alice McVea
    • James Ellis … Cast, Albert McVea
    • Rosemary McAuley … Cast, Pauline Willis
    • David Calvert … Cast, Tom Walsh
    • Catherine Brennan … Cast, Mrs. Cowan
    • Allan Gildea … Cast, Paul Willis