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To Be A Somebody (Series 2)

 

Written by: Jimmy McGovern

Produced by: Paul Abbott

Directed by: Tim Fywell

Originally Screened: 10/10/94 (Part 1), 17/10/94 (Part 2), 24/10/94 (Part 3)

 

"Treat people like scum and they start acting like scum " - Albie

 

A Liverpudlian welder, Albert “Albie” Kinsella, attends his father’s funeral. The death clearly has had a disturbing effect on him and his estrangement from his wife and daughter adds to his distress. Later that day he goes into his local newsagent and tries to buy a box of tea-bags and a copy of the Guardian newspaper. He is four pence short and the Asian shopkeeper refuses to let him take the goods and pay the rest later that day. Albie goes home and shaves his head. He returns the shop with the money and his father’s army bayonet. He berates the shopkeeper for treating him like working class scum and calls him a “robbing Paki bastard”. When the old man tells him to “criticise me for what I do not for what I am”, Albie says: “I call you a robbing bastard and what happens, you get the Queen’s award to industry because this country’s full of robbing bastards. But I call you a robbing Paki bastard, and that really going to hurt. That’s a bit of a weapon I’ve got”. (This statement indicates a similarity between Albie and Fitz since both men view words as being weapons). Albie then stabs the shopkeeper with his father’s bayonet and writes the numbers 9615489 on the wall of the shop. He goes home on the bus, clearly distressed, and takes out 96 matches and strikes one of them.

 

The police are convinced that the murder was a racist attack since a skinhead was seen coming out of the shop. They make raids on the premises of all National Front sympathizers but without success. Fitz and Bilborough have not spoken since the Cassidy case and (on the urgings of Penhaligon who still has not forgiven Fitz for leaving her at the airport) another psychologist, Dr Nolan, is brought in to help with the investigation. Fitz loses 3,000 pounds on a horse. He picks a fight with two skinheads which results in his nose being broken. On the day of his son’s birthday (which Fitz has forgotten) Judith leaves with Katie and this brings on a heart attack for Fitz. Dr. Nolan gives a television interview in which he describes the killer as being white, uneducated and a football supporting thug (an erroneous description which Fitz predicted Nolan would make and thus prove himself to be “a prick”). Angered at the general assumptions Nolan has made, Albie murders him in the University where Nolan has been giving a lecture.

 

Fitz is then called in to help with the investigation and he agrees on the condition that from now on they “seek truth and justice. Good old fashioned British Justice where a man is innocent until proven Irish”. (A very topical comment since it had only been a few years since the wrongfully imprisoned Guildford Four and Birmingham Six had been released after serving more than fifteen years for terrorist bombings that they had not committed. Their Irishness had been one of the compelling factors in their convictions). Albie attempts to kill a Sun journalist named Claire Moody in her car and she only narrowly escapes by causing a car crash. He told her that she and journalists like her had encouraged the myth that football supporters had “pissed on the dead at Hillsborough” (a reference to an article that appeared in the Sun a few days after the Hillsborough disaster that blamed Liverpool supporters for the tragedy). Albie said that she deserved to die because she expected him and people like him to act like animals.

 

After interviewing Claire, Fitz realizes that Albie is planning to kill 96 people in revenge for Hillsborough. The numbers on the shop wall was referring to the 96 people who died on 15/4/89. Fitz adds that “if there is any justice in this world most of them [the people Albie will kill] are going to be coppers”. As a result of his refusal to give up smoking, drinking and gambling, Judith leaves Fitz again and he and his son Mark are left to fend for themselves once more. DS Beck visits Albie as part of the investigation and Albie lies that his shaven head is a result of chemotherapy. Albie shows him an appointment card for a cancer clinic at the local hospital which had belonged to his father (who was also named Albert). Beck leaves the house feeling a little embarrassed about harassing a sick man.  

 

Albie decides that his next target will be Bilborough and follows him and his family to a local supermarket where he molests Bilborough’s wife Catriona. Albie runs away and Bilborough chases after him. Bilborough is lead to Albie’s house where Albie stabs him. Although dying, Bilborough radios the station and tells his colleagues what Albie looked like and that Albie fully intended to kill him. Bilborough on the pavement just as Fitz, Beck and Penhaligon arrive. Fitz goes to Catriona to give her some bereavement counselling. In a moment of compassion and kindness, Fitz tells her that he was wrong about Cassidy and that her husband did not lock up an innocent man. 

 

Despite some early friction with Wise (the new DCI), Fitz is retained on the team. Albie’s wife is found and she emotionally describes how traumatic an event Hillsborough was for Albie and how it contributed to the end of their marriage. Albie is next seen stealing explosives and when a labourer tries to stop him, Albie murders the man. Fitz guesses that Albie will go to a Manchester United vs. Liverpool football game and the police are sent to the match hoping to catch him. Unfortunately, the surveillance is entirely on the Liverpool end of the ground and Albie had bought his ticket in Manchester. As Albie is being ejected from the ground for trying to cause a riot, Beck sees him and chases after him. When he catches Albie, Beck proceeds to brutally beat him.  

 

Fitz is brought in to interview Albie and proceeds to mock his grandiose motives for murder by claiming that Albie’s real reasons for killing are entirely selfish: “Your dad dies and something snaps. You kill a Pakistani shopkeeper. You have to rationalize it. Apply some twisted logic and try and tie it in with Hillsborough. But you have to stick to that logic. You have to go killing. Because otherwise that first murder just makes no sense. It’s just another stupid racist killing”. Albie sticks to his display of righteous anger and it emerges that he has sent several mail bombs to various locations in an attempt to bring his death toll up to 96. Fitz realizes that one target will be their police station and he manages to have the bag switched. As Fitz is walking home, a letter bomb goes off in the offices of the Sun. Killing Claire Moody and many others. Albie seems to have gone a long way towards getting his revenge. 

 

For many viewers, ‘To Be a Somebody’ is the iconic Cracker story. The power and brilliance of the story, acting and script are beyond dispute. It has been almost universally praised by critics but has also been attacked by people who felt uncomfortable with such a recent and traumatic event as Hillsborough being used as the theme for an entertainment show. (The last Hillsborough victim only died in 1993, a year before ‘To Be a Somebody’ was aired. His name was Tony Bland and he passed away in hospital after being in a persistent vegetative state for nearly four years). Jimmy McGovern was so moved by these accusations of insensitivity that, as atonement, he wrote the script for the programme 1996 Hillsborough which chronicles the events of 15/04/89 in a very powerful but also sensitive way.

 

Episode Guide written by Graham Price

 

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The Unofficial Guide To Cracker 1999-2006

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