The Last Panthers title sequence with David Bowie

From Darkness, BBC1, Anne-Marie Duff

Claire Church (ANNE-MARIE DUFF), John Hind (JOHNNY HARRIS)

Ex-partners in crime: Claire (Anne-Marie Duff) and John (Johnny Harris)

Engrossing tale about a woman trying to escape her former life as a police officer

★★★ BBC1, starts Sunday, 4 October, 9pm

WE HAVE evidence that a new gang has muscled in to shake up crime shows on British TV. The members behind it are all women and the results have been pretty disturbing.

Claire Church (ANNE-MARIE DUFF) in From Darkness

Haunted: Former detective Claire

That’s because writers such as Sally Wainwright (Happy Valley), Abi Morgan (the forthcoming River) and here Katie Baxendale with From Darkness have moved firmly away from the jaded whodunit format into more haunting territory.

Their dramas offer more than crime scenes and forensics, but look into lives damaged by enforcing the law or being a victim of crime. Happy Valley was a character-driven portrayal of a female police officer’s private and case-related battles, while River is an off-kilter look at a detective traumatised by the loss of his partner.

Anne-Marie Duff as Claire

From Darkness is another drama delving into the psychology of a young officer, this one damaged by her experience working on the vice scene. Claire Church, played by Anne-Marie Duff, has run away just about as far as possible from her former life as a Manchester constable can get. She now lives quietly with her new partner and daughter in the Western Isles of Scotland.

Programme Name: From Darkness - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 1) - Picture Shows: - (C) BBC - Photographer: Nicola Dove

Escape: Claire’s home on the Western Isles

She is not pleased when her former boss, John Hind (a gruff Johnny Harris), turns up wanting her input after the remains of two women are found on a building site. He believes her knowledge of the Manchester vice trade 16 years previously could unlock his investigation.

‘Claire, what are you doing here?’ the city slicker detective says, on arriving at her island, home to 43 residents and no TV. She tells him that he should not have dropped by, that he’s become a fat, drinking, embittered, middle-aged police cliché.

[Read more…]

David Bowie writes title track for The Last Panthers

David Bowie The Last Panters

David Bowie has written the title music for The Last Panthers, his first such soundtrack contribution for 20 years

Samantha Morton in Sky Atlantic's The Last Panthers

Samantha Morton as Naomi in The Last Panthers

Wowie Bowie! The man himself has written and recorded the title music for Sky Atlantic’s big new thriller six-parter The Last Panthers. Starring Samantha Morton and John Hurt this is a trans-Euro production about banksters and heists. Director Johan Renck says: ‘I was looking for one of the icons of my youth to write the music for the title sequence, but was presented with a God. His first response was precise, engaged and curious. The piece of music he laid before us embodied every aspect of our characters and the series itself – dark, brooding, beautiful and sentimental (in the best possible incarnation of this word). All along, the man inspired and intrigued me and as the process passed, I was overwhelmed with his generosity. I still can’t fathom what actually happened…’


Midwinter of the Spirit, ITV, Anna Maxwell Martin, David Threlfall

From ITV Studios Midwinter Of The Spirit on ITV Pictured: Lol Robinson [Ben Bailey Smith], Rev. Merrily Watkins [Anna Maxwell Martin] and Rev. Huw Owens [David Threlfall]. Merrily is deeply human in her doubts and scepticism, but her knowledge of the paranormal underworld brings her to the notice of local police who need her advice in the investigation of a grisly murder. This photograph is (C) ITV Plc and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above, or ITV plc. Once made available by ITV plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the transmission [TX] date and no reproduction fee will be charged. Any subsequent usage may incur a fee. This photograph must not be manipulated [excluding basic cropping] in a manner which alters the visual appearance of the person photographed deemed detrimental or inappropriate by ITV plc Picture Desk. This photograph must not be syndicated to any other company, publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Plc Picture Desk. Full Terms and conditions are available on the website

Chill factor: Lol Robinson (Ben Bailey Smith), the Rev Merrily Watkins (Anna Maxwell Martin) and the Rev Huw Owens (David Threlfall)

A crime series with a supernatural twist

★★★½ ITV, starts Wednesday, 23 September, 9pm

GENRE-CROSSING crime series look set to be come a bit of a trend. We’ve recently seen Fox’s Wayward Pines with Matt Dillon, a sci-fi tale with crime elements. ITV Encore’s The Frankenstein Chronicles, starring Sean Bean, ‘reimagines’ the story from the standpoint of a police investigator.

Meanwhile, James Nesbitt has been filming Sky1’s high-concept series Lucky Man, based on comic-book legend Stan Lee’s idea about a detective who finds a magic bracelet that brings him good luck.

And here we have Midwinter of the Spirit, a three-parter that mixes supernatural themes with crime ingredients. It would appear that the cop-drama clogged TV schedules have bled the genre dry, and writers are now juicing the formula up with sci-fi/horror twists.

Anna Maxwell Martin as Merrily

Anyway, the first thing to say about Midwinter is that it does what it says on the tin. It is definitely creepy, helped by the fact that it’s based on Phil Rickman‘s chilling novels and a terrific performance by Anna Maxwell Martin.

She plays the Rev Merrily Watkins, a single mum with a teenage daughter who’s taken on a new role in her small-town parish – that of exorcist. [Read more…]

Beck, BBC4, with Peter Haber

BECK Buried Alive Channels: BBC FourMartin Beck (PETER HABER), Gunvald Larsson (MIKAEL PERSBRANDT) (L-R)

Good cop, impulsive cop: Beck (Peter Haber) and Larsson (Mikael Persbrandt)

The latest Swedish crime series to hit BBC4 is based on a classic series of books

★★★½ BBC4, starts Saturday, 12 September, 9pm

BECK is the latest Scandi-noir series to fill BBC4’s Saturday-night slot. Since The Killing alerted the channel’s viewers to the distinctive mood and quality of Nordic TV dramas five years ago now, a new audience has been cultivated for death with subtitles in a cold climate.

Martin Beck (PETER HABER), Lena Klingström (STINA RAUTELIN), Gunvald Larsson (MIKAEL PERSBRANDT), Oskar Bergman (MÅNS NATHANAELSON)

Team work: Beck, Klingstrom, Larsson and Bergman

Martin Beck is, of course, the character featured in the groundbreaking Swedish crime novels written by husband-and-wife Marxists Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö back in the 1960s. These two crime-writing pioneers wrote a superb series of novels that often delved into society’s sore points, such as police corruption, while following Beck’s investigations.

The books are well worth exploring and this new series, set in the present day, is a polished adaptation, with Peter Haber – who starred in the Swedish version of The Girl with Dragon Tattoo – playing Beck. Mikael Persbrandt co-stars as Beck’s rough, tough colleague Larsson, a guy who, on taking out a biker in an alley fight, says, ‘Sometimes you have to make your mark.’

Beck’s on the trail of a serial killer

The first story, Buried Alive, starts with the discovery by a child of a crate buried in her playground’s sandpit. Her mother thinks she can hear a noise from inside and Beck and Larsson are soon on the scene. The crate contains the body of a prosecutor who’s been investigating a criminal biker gang. [Read more…]

New Maigret with Rowan Atkinson

ITV has commenced filming Maigret Sets A Trap one of two stand-alone dramatic films featuring the legendary French fictional detective Jules Maigret, played by Rowan Atkinson. This image is the copyright of ITV and must be used in relation to Maigret. Photographer John Rogers.

Cop this – Jules Maigret, played by Rowan Atkinson

HERE’S a first look at Rowan Atkinson in ITV’s new series about the French detective Jules Maigret. Filming has just started in Budapest on Maigret Sets a Trap, one of two standalone dramatic films, with the second being Maigret’s Dead Man. The setting is Paris in the 1950s and each story will be 90-minutes long. Other cast include Fiona Shaw (Harry Potter, True Blood), Aiden McCardle (Mr Selfridge, The Mill) and Shaun Dingwall (Silent Witness, Death In Paradise). It looks like a big production for ITV and a lot will be riding on how well Rowan Atkinson sheds his Mr Bean baggage to convincingly portray author Georges Simenon’s much-admired creation.

19-2 Canadian cop series arrives on DVD

19-2 SERIES / SPHÈRE MÉDIA Photos : Bertrand Calmeau

Thin blue line: Barron and Chartier in 19-2

5439THIS NEW Canadian series reminds us of Southland with its on-the-beat depiction of a patrol cops, veering from darkly humorous to just dark. Starring Adrian Holmes and Jared Keeso as Nick Barron and Ben Chartier, who work for Service de police de la Ville de Montréal, dealing with crime on the streets, station politics and their personal problems. The series went out on Spike TV in the UK and, while not as polished as the superb Southland, certainly packs a lot of action and some decent characters. If you missed it on Spike, series one is now coming out on DVD on 21 September (RRP £19.99).

Unforgotten, ITV, Nicola Walker, Sanjeev Bhaskar

MAINSTREET PICTURES FOR ITV UNFORGOTTEN EPISODE 1 Pictured : NICOLA WALKER as DCI Cassie Stuart and SANJEEV BHASKAR as DS Sunil Khan. Photographer: JOHN ROGERS This image is the copyright of ITV and must be credited. The images are for one use only and to be used in relation to UNFORGOTTEN, any further usage could incur a fee.

Nicola Walker as DCI Cassie Stuart and Sanjeev Bhaskar as DS Sunil Khan

A terrific cast comes together for this intriguing cold-case drama

★★★½ ITV, starts Thursday, 8 October, 9pm

UNFORGOTTEN brings together an odd-couple lead pairing of Nicola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar as coppers probing a 39-year-old cold case.

 UNFORGOTTEN EPISODE 1 Pictured : NICOLA WALKER as DCI Cassie Stuart and SANJEEV BHASKAR as DS Sunil Khan. Photographer: JOHN ROGERS This image is the copyright of ITV and must be credited. The images are for one use only and to be used in relation to UNFORGOTTEN, any further usage could incur a fee.

Digging for clues: DCI Cassie Stuart and DS Sunil Khan

Walker is currently on the crest of a career wave following a versatile run of successes in Last Tango in Halifax, Babylon and a menacing turn in Scott & Bailey. She is also excellent as a shadowy presence in the BBC’s forthcoming River, another crime series.

Meanwhile, Bhaskar has a track record as a terrific comedy presence in the likes of The Kumars and Goodness Gracious Me, and has been flexing his dramatic muscles in series such as The Indian Doctor.

With Bernard Hill, Tom Courtenay, Trevor Eve

Do they work as a dramatic pairing here? Walker is a dramatic actress who can pull off the light-hearted moments, whereas Bhaskar seems a light actor who remains light. So,on the basis on having seen only the opening episode, I would say the jury’s still out. [Read more…]