I watched “A Song for Jenny” last night on the BBC. It moved me to tears throughout, as I’m sure it did to everyone who watched it.
Emily Watson took the role of Julie Nicholson, in Frank McGuiness’s adaptation of the book Julie wrote about her daughter Jenny, who was killed in the 2005 Edgeware Road bombing. Always a brilliant actress, who can move her audience even without words, she was the perfect choice to play the bereaved mother and she quite surpassed herself in her ability to portray raw grief, without a shred of vanity. The rest of the cast offered a strong support, but the real story was about the mother’s growing realisation that her daughter wasn’t coming back, her rage, her regrets that Jenny would miss so much of life and finally acceptance of her death, if not forgiveness. As the tension rises, there is no crashing background music, just a slow dawning of the facts and a deep, unspoken emotion.
I watched the programme because I’d heard the real Julie interviewed on Radio 4 and her unflinching strength shone through in her voice. A priest at the time of Jenny’s murder, she vowed that she would not let her hate destroy her family but would learn from her daughter’s love. Her faith must have helped her through the bleakest moments, but unfortunately it was too late to save her relationship with her husband, her misery pushed him too far away. Later she revoked her priesthood as she was unable to come to terms with preaching forgiveness when she herself could not forgive her daughter’s killer. As a mother myself I completely understand.
If you missed it, do catch it on iPlayer, I believe it will go down as one of the greats.