This uniquely British drama introduces an unlikely hero in Nelson 'Nelly' Rowe (Lennie James), he is a man whose days are bookended by his first can and his last pint. He lives in the Swan Tower, Deptford, with girlfriend Martine ‘Teens’ Betts – the woman he happens to be sleeping with at that particular moment.
“You know Nelly. He’s at the end of the bar. Always there, he can’t help himself. He never really grew up. He never had to. Guys like Nelly are usually the cautionary tale. They are almost never the hero. In Save Me, Nelly might just be…” - Lennie James
Nelly is the guy that, 10 years ago in his south-east London local, The Palm Tree pub, all the men wanted to drink with and all the women wanted to get next to – a charmer, a chancer, a fighter, a liar. It was around that time he enjoyed a brief romance with fellow south-east Londoner Claire McGory (Suranne Jones), who gave birth to their daughter, Jody. Nelly was king of the heap and Lord of The Palm, but Claire was always determined to get away from The Towers to live a better life.
But that was a long time ago. Now, at his age and with a daughter he never sees, he really should know better.
Nelly’s world is turned upside down when he is arrested and accused of kidnapping the 13-year old daughter he barely knew. Nelly protests his innocence, arguing that he hasn’t seen his daughter in years, but the police have evidence that Jody’s last three calls were to Nelly’s phone.
Claire, is now a sophisticated and accomplished businesswoman married to a successful music promoter, living in the leafy suburb of Surbiton. When her daughter goes missing, it brings her back to the estate – and to Nelly, who assures her he had nothing to do with Jody's disappearance. But going back will reopen old wounds of Nelly the absent father and incomplete man, while also reawakening latent feelings that have long been buried. Ultimately, it is Claire’s strength and tenacity that will keep Nelly in check and lead them to find their own resolution.
Nelly sets out to clear his name, find the real perpetrator and save his daughter. With the help of his community, Nelly will stop at nothing in his life-changing quest for the truth. It’s a journey that will challenge him to be a better man, and atone for his past mistakes, not least towards Claire. But the further he travels, the more he realises the answers to his quest lie closer to home than he could ever have thought.
The idea for the series was all from Lennie James who created and wrote the series, James spoke about the story he wanted to tell; "I like telling stories about redemption and about people who are trying to find a balance between who they’ve been and who they want to be. That was the basis of the story. When I decided on the character of Nelly, the rest of the world opened up for me. He is an unlikely hero and a difficult and complicated fella who, on the surface, seems very simple. I wanted to write about someone who doesn’t just take everybody else by surprise but also takes himself by surprise."
Written with great warmth, humour and vivacity, Save Me is directed by Nick Murphy (Prey, The Last Kingdom, The Secret) with music by Dustin O’Halloran (Transparent, Lion). It’s packed with vivid and compelling characters, played by an ensemble cast of sought-after British talent that includes Stephen Graham (Line of Duty), Susan Lynch (Happy Valley), Kerry Godliman (Derek) and Jason Flemyng (Primeval).
Season 1 of Save Me is available to stream now at SBS On Demand.