“Don’t Take My Heart, Don’t Break My Heart” sees The Herald face difficulties in attempts to expose a philandering philanthropist, as their own veteran journalists and leadership are called into question.
This recap of Press Season 1, Episode 3, “Don’t Take My Heart, Don’t Break My Heart”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
It isn’t a good day to work for The Herald in Press Episode 3 — nor is it a good day to be living with someone who works for the rival newspaper The Post, either. Both of these facts become clear to Holly (Charlotte Riley) in the course of “Don’t Take My Heart, Don’t Break My Heart”, in which the pursuit of a major story might lead the paper to an irreparable financial loss and potentially the stepping down of its editor, Amina (Priyanga Burford).
The story involves wealthy philanthropist Joshua West, who may or may not have been using his youth-focused programs to leverage teenage women into sleeping with him. One of those women, Rachel Gilmour (Emma Paetz, before her role as Martha Kane in Epix’s Pennyworth), contacts Holly with the scoop, and Holly sends James (Al Weaver) to interview her. It quickly becomes apparent that West has been running this scam for years, and that Rachel is just one of many who might be encouraged to come forward when the story breaks.
Later in Press Episode 3, Holly and James meet another woman, Susannah Hill (Verity Marshall), who reveals she also had a relationship with West that lasted a while and occasionally got rough in the bedroom. However, she isn’t willing to have her name attached to the story unless The Herald is willing to pay her for it; that’s the price she puts on potentially having her career ruined by the negative press. Holly convinces Amina to run the story anyway, since they have enough to make something stick, so they reach out to West’s lawyers for comment and get no response before the printing deadline. West is going to be on the front page.
Or is he? In the middle of the night, Holly and Amina — the latter of whom had gone to bed with Peter (Brendan Cowell) — are summoned to sit before a judge (Jonathan Cullen) in the community church and fight against a last-minute injunction requested by West’s legal team. The papers have already been printed but the delivery trucks have been pulled over and the online versions have been suspended. If the injunction is granted, The Herald stands to lose a potentially ruinous amount of money — West promises to reimburse it, though it’s hard to take the word of such a man seriously. His argument is that the relationships were consensual, that the story would cause him reputational damage, and that the injunction should be granted since there is no public interest in such a story. The Herald rightly argues that there is, and I find it a bit of stretch that any judge in the land would think otherwise. But this one does. He orders the injunction.
As fate would have it, the story breaks anyway. The Post has run it on the front page of a second edition, with Duncan (Ben Chaplin) having been tipped off about the story by Ed (Paapa Essiedu), who had noted down the information from Holly without her knowledge, and the paper had paid Susannah Hill for her story. As Duncan explains, when the subject is someone so powerful, you just have to get the story out there, ethical or otherwise. In a bizarre coincidence that I admired “Don’t Take My Heart, Don’t Break My Heart” bothered to include, it was the unethical, conservative publication that exposed an important truth entirely by being unethical. Do the ends justify the means?
Other subplots of Press Season 1, Episode 3: Chris (David Schofield), a veteran journalist, is exposed for having fabricated — or at least fudged — the details of a story about Somalian rebels, meaning his entire output over the last three and a half decades has to be checked for inaccuracies. Duncan manipulates the Prime Minister into being featured on the front page and, in a brilliant display of pettiness, prints a story about a potential pedophile right next to it so that the PM’s mug sits right beside the P-word. The man’s a deplorable treasure. Long may he reign in the world of the tabloid press. And with Amina faced with the possibility of having to resign, he just might.