The divorce lawyers are back in The Split

Monday:The Split; (BBC One, 9pm)

Ruth, Nina, Hannah and Rose
Ruth, Nina, Hannah and Rose

Nobody is perfect. Even those who appear on the surface to have amazing lives, a great family and a fulfilling job could be struggling behind the scenes.

One such person is Hannah Stern, the central character in The Split, Abi Morgan’s excellent hit drama about a family of divorce lawyers, which is returning to our screens for its third and final series.

“What Abi has created is this woman who, if you could imagine for example, seeing a profile of Hannah Stern in a legal magazine or something, her life would look brilliant,” says Nicola Walker, who plays her. “She would look totally in control, hugely successful, edging on perfection to someone leafing through a magazine.

“And then Abi just peels that back. She’s a great leveller of her characters. We all know the truth is always far more complicated and we never know what goes on behind closed doors in real life, but in Abi’s world you do get to find out what’s really going on.”

The last time we saw Hannah, her marriage to the solid and dependable Nathan was on the rocks following her affair with her old flame and colleague Christie. When we catch up with her, she and her estranged husband are looking to the future, albeit apart. After 20 years together, Hannah begins to realise what she is going to lose, but a shocking revelation looks set to change the stakes, turning what they had both hoped would be an amicable divorce into something far more attritional.

Hannah has two sisters as well as a formidable mother, and we’ll be getting to see what they’ve been up to as well before the programme bows out for good.

Walker previously worked with Morgan on the woefully underrated River, so when the chance to reteam with her came up, she jumped at the chance, pointing out that the writer’s passion for her characters is what makes her work stand out from the crowd: “She’s interested in really getting to know this family, these three daughters and this mother, and she doesn’t give you easy answers.

“Abi deals very honestly with all of these women. She sees great joy in all their lives, but she doesn’t shy away from the fact that there is a deep sadness in those daughters. Psychologically in the way she writes, she’s really, really clever and that makes great drama.”

The third run marks a major development in Morgan’s career too – like Sally Wainwright of Last Tango in Halifax and Happy Valley fame, she isn’t just writing the show, she’s also directing it.

“So much of a writer’s life is solitary that it has been a complete joy to direct and to finally get to work with the brilliant cast and crew and be part of the magic that happens between first read-through and final edit that I normally don’t get to see,” claims Morgan. “Having tried it, I hope it won’t be my last time.”

If her efforts here are anything to go by, we’re sure it won’t be long before she’s back behind the camera, breathing life into a incredible set of likeable if imperfect characters.

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