It’s more important than ever to shine a light on the little known story tellers of our time; the industry is rife with talent that doesn’t get the attention it deserves, but sometimes all it takes is a little bit of attention and a true artist can go a long way. Kate Herron is somebody who deserves to go a long way, and that is evident from her directorial work on the BBC Three series Five by Five.
Five by Five is a series of five short episodes centered around particular characters. The story works like a relay race; the narrative is a baton that gets passed from character to character and they carry on the story. It’s done in a very clever fashion, especially if you watch them all in one go, which takes less than half an hour. The story is far too tight knit to separate the episodes, and you can end up losing something if you don’t watch them together.
Five by Five is an engaging and thought provoking series that tackles many themes including masculinity, race and disability. The writing is great; it takes on these issues in a very respectful, level headed and poetic manner, and whilst some parts of it feel a tad insignificant compared to the rest of it, it all comes full circle in the best way. Nothing is done that doesn’t have consequence, it all flows very nicely and very believably too. It’s a testament to short form entertainment, in that each episode is no more than five minutes, and yet we still manage to have such investing, well rounded characters. What helps is the great cast hired to bring this writing to life; relatively unknown actors such as Michael Ajao, Georgina Campbell, Ben Tavassoli, Ruth Madeley and Sope Dirisu amongst others, ignite the characters perfectly and add a real sense of passion to the roles, all complemented by a small but crucial appearance from producer Idris Elba.
And speaking of Elba, he is essential to what is easily the best aspect of the show; the way this show looks at prejudices against race and disability etc. is fantastic, no way to dispute that, but the most effecting and moving issue raised is the image of masculinity, played out through Ash’s story line. Ash’s desire to be a big man is personified visually by Elba, who plays it with such a childlike innocence to him. The way he acts is how any young person acts when they want to be taken seriously; it makes you feel for the character far beyond you thought you could, and is a beautiful use of symbolism. It sends out a great message to young men everywhere, but like I said, this series has something important to say about every issue raised.
All that beauty is topped of with the astounding direction of Kate Herron. Herron’s vision for the show is completely perfect; it’s paced so well, it’s focus is endearing and it feels like every shot has meaning. She has a keen eye for great shots, as I’m sure is the case for her other pieces, which I and hopefully many others will explore after seeing her work here. It’s done to perfection, with the final shot of the series in particular being completely marvellous.
Five by Five is a poetic and important piece of work that proves the need for fresh talent in this industry we love so much.
Check out Five by Five on BBC IPlayer now.