The Responder reviews and reaction: What did critics and viewers have to say Martin Freeman drama?
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The Responder reviews: What did critics and viewers say about BBC drama?

Martin Freeman's 'layered' portrayal tipped for awards success

The Responder reviews from TV critics and those watching at home have been very positive.

Critics were bowled over by the lead performance from Martin Freeman, as well as the BBC drama‘s writer Tony Schumacher.

Viewers, meanwhile, were particularly impressed by one aspect of Martin’s portrayal of Scouse police officer Chris Carson.

***WARNING: Spoilers from the first episode of The Responder follow*** 

The Responder reviews hail Martin Freeman as Chris Carson
Martin Freeman plays beleaguered copper Chris Carson (Credit: BBC iPlayer)

The Responder reviews: What did critics make of it?

The Responder was received very positively by critics attached to news outlets, with one hailing it as a true ‘state-of-the-nation’ drama.

Lucy Mangan of The Guardian wrote: “The Responder is as fast and riveting as a thriller and as harrowing as a documentary.”

She said the complex drama is profound about ‘the toll frontline jobs take on our compassion and our morals’.

Read more: The Responder episode one: Five questions we have after watching BBC One police drama

Lucy ultimately concluded The Responder concerns “what happens when we become uncoupled from each other and have nowhere to turn”.

“If you are looking for a state-of-the-nation piece, it is here,” she added.

Lucy also added the tight writing, a first original screen work by former police officer Tony Schumacher, didn’t contain ‘any wasted words’.

The Responder reviews hail Martin Freeman as Chris Carson
Chris visits his mother June, played by Rita Tushingham (Credit: BBC iPlayer)

‘Electrifying’

Carol Midgley wrote in The Times that her preconceptions about what the show could be were off the mark.

She admitted: “Well, that’ll teach me to say the cop show format has been flogged to death and has nothing new to say.

“The Responder, which looked ‘meh’ on paper (‘grizzled police officer in northern city has troubled life’ — yawn), turned out to be electrifying.

“And that includes Martin Freeman’s surprising Scouse accent, which, trust me, is very hard to get right.”

Carol wasn’t the only one to heap praise on Martin.

Martin Freeman will surely win awards for his performance.

Lucy reflected: “Carson is a man comprising layers of rage, suffering and despair, and Freeman slowly illuminates each one; he will surely win awards for his performance.”

And Sean O’Grady wrote in his 3/5 review for The Independent: “It was a smart move by the makers of the BBC’s new crime series The Responder to hire Martin Freeman as knackered-before-his-time Scouse copper Chris Carson.

“Freeman is a fine actor and he is at his very best when playing the bewildered Everyman on the edge of breakdown. So he fits the role of the troubled Carson perfectly.”

The Responder reviews: Emily Fairn as troubled Casey, who Chris Carson tries to protect
Emily Fairn as troubled Casey, who Chris Carson tries to protect (Credit: BBC iPlayer)

What did Twitter viewers highlight about The Responder?

The major topic of social media conversation about The Responder revolved around Martin’s Liverpudlian accent.

Some reports have suggested Martin practiced for over a year to ensure he got it right.

Many viewers had similar opinions to Carol Midgley, with Martin even coming in for compliments from Twitter users in the north west who rated his vocal work very highly.

Read more: The Responder on BBC One review: It’s bleak, but there’s a bittersweet pay-off

“It’s not too often an actor taking on a Scouse accent nails the part. Martin Freeman was superb in The Responder last night,” one viewer tweeted.

Another agreed: “Martin Freeman was superb in The Responder! The accent was on point, too.”

And a third added: “How boss is Martin Freeman’s accent in The Responder? Well in, laaa.”

The Responder continues tonight, Tuesday January 25, on BBC One at 9pm.

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