In this fine adaptation of the Catherine Cookson period novel, Robson Green turns in a complex and layered performance as rent collector Rory Connor, a small-time gambler ready to wager larger stakes in more demanding games. His ambition drives him sometimes against his better nature and always against his lower-class background, and he winds up wagering no less a stake than his life in a game that has nothing to do with cards.
From the day he was born his mother had known that Rory would be the one to make something of his life. At seven years old he was earning money from odd jobs and by fourteen he was in full-time work. By the time he was nineteen, he had escaped the factory to become a rent collector. Now, at twenty-three, ambition was in full flow and he was always looking to bigger and better games to play. He feared nothing and nobody, not even the unscrupulous landlord he collects for. He knows what he wants and that he won't get it working as a rent collector in the slums of South Shields.Rory has no equal on the local gaming tables but he wants more than easy and small rewards. Setting his sights on something much larger, he encounters the ruthless world of Frank Nickle - with life threatening results. Marriage to his childhood sweetheart Janie comes to a dramatic end, and refusing to heed the disapproval of society and his working class family, Rory later marries the boss's daughter.
As an ordinary working lad, he was doing well. But two things stand in the way of his bright future - a ghost from the past that comes back to haunt him and the sinister shadow of Nickle, who will stop at nothing to protect his dark secrets.