Moving On:

Drowning not Waving 



Written by:

Sarah Deane

Directed by: Gary Williams

May 20th 2009

Distributor: LA Productions Ltd
Duration: 45 Minutes


  • John Mulligan - RICHARD ARMITAGE
  • Sue Morgan - SHARON DUCE

Part of Jimmy McGovern's plan to shake up daytime television the Moving on series was aired over 5 days between 18th -22nd May 2009. The series were a set of 5 stand alone plays by mainly new writers with the theme of moving on. Richard Armitage starred as John Mulligan in the third episode entitled Drowning not Waving.

The episode opens with Ellie Morgan struggling to cope with her debts. Eventually in desperation, she puts up her home for sale. As a result she finds that one of her buyers is someone she knew at school, John Mulligan. He offers to buy her house and get her out of debt, telling her that despite his modest beginnings he is now a property developer. Ellie and John had shared a brief romantic liaison at school despite their differing backgrounds. Ellie and John begin a love affair and he buys her house from her.

Her wealthy friend Maria is initially happy for her until Ellie reveals that her new man is Mully the Bully from school. Maria tells her that John's money comes, not from property, but from drug dealing and they row.

Ellie confronts John about the accusation and he admits that he was arrested for dealing whilst he was a teenager and the reason that Maria knows is that he and she were lovers for six months. John tells Ellie that Maria wanted more than he was prepared to offer and she is jealous of Ellie's new found happiness. Maria maintains that she finished the affair because of the drug dealing.

Ellie, despite advise from her mother believes John and falls out with Maria over the matter.

Later we see John and Ellie packing for a trip to New York. Ellie insists they could share a suitcase but John prefers to take two bags.



As they are talking he receives a phone call and tells Ellie that there is a problem with a development in Leeds. He insists she goes on ahead of him and he will then join her. They kiss as she drives away. However, as she drives Ellie thinks something is wrong and checks her bag where she finds a large quantity of heroin. She rings Maria who tells her to call the police.

We then see Ellie heading to a prison to confront John. She enquires whether she meant anything to him but he seems very bitter, stating that he has only done what he needed to do to escape his circumstances. He asks her whether spending money on credit that she knew she could not pay back was any less immoral than what he did. He seems also to take great pleasure in reminding her that she has paid off her debts with his drug money and wonders how she will feel about that. The audience are left with some ambiguity about John's feelings for Ellie, whether he truly cared or was simply using her. The play concludes with Maria driving Ellie away from her house.

Screencap Gallery

Press Reviews