What’s the point of it all? Harriet Walter and Frances O’Connor play a mother and daughter grappling with life’s eternal questions in this funny and painfully perceptive drama

We open with Harriet Walter lying in bed with a bag over her head and a near-empty bottle of booze by her side. A log falls out of the fire downstairs and sets light to the place. Burning is clearly not how she wants to go, so she swings herself out of bed, tears the bag off, takes a final swig of vodka and throws herself out of the window. She groans as she hits the ground, but only in disappointment when the impact fails to kill her. She is taken to hospital in an ambulance. “It says: ‘Do not resuscitate!’” she cries fiercely, jabbing at the bracelet on her wrist. “Love,” says the kindly paramedic sitting with her, “you’re still conscious.”

So The End (Sky Atlantic) begins. Walter plays – with such humanity, humour and grace that I hope this early posting in the year is not forgotten when awards are handed out – Edie, widowed six months previously. This seems to be the proximate cause of her suicide attempt(s) but, as we come to see over the course of the subtle, funny and quietly devastating opening episode, rarely is a life-or-death decision arrived at so simply.

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