Review: Capital—Keeping up with the Joneses

Mark Reynolds

BBC drama Capital is a gleeful satire on the comings and goings on a gentrified street in South London. Here the neighbours will judge you on anything from the age of your curtains to your choice of builders.

Adapted by Peter Bowker from John Lanchester’s bestselling novel, Capital tells the overlapping yet disconnected stories of the residents of ‘Pepys Road’ in a barely fictionalised Clapham.

Toby Jones’ complacent investment banker Roger is first to fall into focus.

He’s the prime beneficiary of soaring house prices, plus the kind of mind-boggling bonuses that have seen this once-neglected corner of the city transformed into one of its most desirable postcodes.
 

It soon becomes clear that the street is also home to life’s strugglers. Veteran resident Petunia (Gemma Jones) is nearing the end of her life as her anxious daughter Mary (Lesley Sharp) tries to plan for the future.

Polish builder Bogdan has struck gold in the shape of the interior decorating whims of Roger’s wife Arabella (Rachael Stirling). Quentina is an illegal refugee from Zimbabwe hired as a traffic warden by a dodgy agency that keeps an indecent slice of her wages.

Local newsagent Ahmed just about keeps his extended family on an even keel, until he is torpedoed by an unwelcome visit from India by his overbearing but well-meaning mother (a magnificent Shabana Azmi).
 

Capital
Image via BBC

A sinister hate campaign that begins with postcards bearing the message “We Want What You Have” dropping through the neighbours’ letterboxes shatters the stability of the street.

The mystery deepens, affecting each of the characters in turn, and a vivid portrait builds of love and loss, greed and envy, home and family, price and value in the ever-changing landscape of a city in constant flux.
 

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Feature image via BBC