The Secret, ITV, James Nesbitt

Gripping account of the murders committed by Northern Irish couple Colin Howell and Hazel Buchanan

★★★ ITV, Friday, 29 April, 9pm

SOMETIMES the true story on which a drama is based is so riveting it almost can’t fail to keep you rooted to the sofa. This ITV series is one of those.

It recounts the crime committed by a couple in Northern Ireland, Colin Howell and Hazel Buchanan. They met at their local Baptist church and started an affair that had appalling consequences. Greed, lust, hypocrisy and evangelism make it a distressing but compelling story [as this is a true story, there are some spoilers in this preview].

From Hat Trick Productions The Secret: Ep1 on ITV Pictured: Hazel Buchanan [Genevieve O'Reilly] and Colin Howell [James Nesbitt]. This photograph is (C) Hat Trick Productions 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 www.itvpictures.com For further information please contact: james.hilder@itv.com

Secret liaison: Hazel Buchanan (Genevieve O’Reilly) and Colin Howell (James Nesbitt)

It is accompanied by fine performances by James Nesbitt as the dentist Howell and Genevieve O’Reilly as Buchanan, along with an unflashy but convincing script from Stuart Urban. Nesbitt, in particular, is so believable as the grossly self-serving “Christian” that before the first episode is even finished you want to punch the screen every time he appears.

A faked suicide pact

In the first of four episodes, we watch the genesis of the affair. While Howell’s wife, Lesley, is expecting their fourth child, he begins to pursue married schoolteacher Buchanan. [Read more…]

Harlan Coben’s The Five, Sky1

The Five Episode 01 Danny (O-T Fagbenle). Ben Blackall 2015 for © RED PRODUCTION COMPANY LIMITED

One of The Five – Danny (O-T Fagbenle)

Twists galore await in this original Harlan Coben thriller from Sky1

★★★½ Sky1, Friday, 15 April, 9pm

HARLAN COBEN is highly rated as one of the best thriller novelists around today. A lot of my colleagues at crime-fiction site Shotsmag can’t wait for his latest book.

His award-winning mysteries often involve secrets from the past resurfacing and multiple twists. Perhaps best known of his books is Tell No One, which was turned into the 2006 French film Ne le dis à personne.

The Five Episode 01 Mark (Tom Cullen) hugs Pru (Sarah Solemani), Slade (Lee Ingleby) and Danny (O-T Fagbenle) look on. Ben Blackall 2015 for © RED PRODUCTION COMPANY LIMITED

Reunited – Mark hugs Pru as Slade and Danny look on

The surprising thing is that more of his multi-million-selling books have not had screen makeovers. There have been occasional reports that books such as Gone for Good were being worked on by the likes of NBC, but little has surfaced to date.

An original thriller from Harlan Coben

Which makes Sky1’s new series all the more exciting for Coben fans and thriller devotees. The Five is based on an idea Coben had planned to turn into a novel, but instead the author worked with top scriptwriter Danny Brocklehurst (The Driver, Accused, Shameless) to give Sky1 an exclusive and fresh 10-part thriller.

The premise is based on a tragedy from the childhoods of four friends. When they were 12 years old, Mark, Pru, Danny and Slade abandoned Mark’s five-year-old brother, Jesse, in the woods. The lad was never seen again.

In adulthood, Danny, now a detective, gets involved in a murder case. At the scene of the crime, Jesse’s DNA is found. So, is he still alive? If so, is he a murderer? [Read more…]

Marcella, ITV, Anna Friel

BUCCANEER MEDIA FOR ITV MARCELLA Pictured: ANNA FRIEL as Marcella. This image is the copyright of ITV and must only be used in relation to MARCELLA.

Losing control? Anna Friel as Marcella

Dark and intricate thriller from the writer of The Bridge

★★★ ITV, Monday, 4 April, 9pm

HEROINES are often called ‘feisty’. Marcella Backland is not feisty, she is out of control.

She shoves her unfaithful husband down the stairs, she’s volatile, has blackouts, and when we first meet her she is in a bath and caked in mud and blood. How did she get there? That’s what this brooding eight-parter is going to tell us.

Writer Hans Rosenfeldt, who gave us the superb The Bridge, has here conjured up a heroine who is the opposite of Saga Noren in that Swedish-Danish production. The emotionless rule-following blonde has been replaced by a heartbroken, rule-breaking brunette.

Marcella on ITV with Anna Friel episode one

Gripping: Anna Friel as Marcella

Anna Friel as Marcella

Marcella, played wonderfully by Anna Friel, is a woman on a tightrope. It’s hard to even tell if she is a goodie or baddie.

Rosenfeldt has been brought in by ITV to inject some Nordic noir in between the fluff of Midsomer and Lewis. So Marcella is a forbidding heroine and many of the scenes are filmed on rainy London nightscapes. She’s not an anti-hero in the league of Walter White or Dexter, but she’s not cuddly either.

It also has in common with The Bridge multi-strands of stories woven together. This is how Rosenfeldt describes the drama he and his team wanted to make: ‘A thriller, yes. But there are many ways to tell a story. We settled for multi-plot. A lot of characters, not all of them immediately connected to the main story or main characters, but eventually ending up there; that’s what I like to do. That’s what I’m good at. Creating and solving a mystery with as many hooks, twists and red herrings as possible. So that’s what we did.’

BUCCANEER MEDIA FOR ITV MARCELLA Pictured: NICHOLAS PINNOCK as Jason Summers, SINEAD CUSACK as Sylvie Gibson and PATRICK BALADI as Stephen Holmes. This image is the copyright of ITV and must only be used in relation to MARCELLA.

High-powered: Nicholas Pinnock as Jason, Sindead Cusack as Sylvie and Patrick Baladi as Stephen

Sinead Cusack and Laura Carmichael

The threads involve Marcella’s marriage breakdown after 15 years, her return to work as a detective when the Grove Park Killer seems to have reappeared after an 11-year break, a sex worker with a sideline in mugging, and a property firm run by a nasty CEO, Sylvie Gibson (played by Sinead Cusack in Cruella De Vil mode).

Nicholas Pinnock is Jason, Marcella’s now ex-husband, and Laura Carmichael (Lady Edith in Downton Abbey) is Maddy, a student researching domestic abuse who is on the radar of a potential suspect for the Grove Park murders. Maeve Dermody is Grace, Sylvie’s high-flying businesswoman daughter.

Marcella is elevated above just being a compelling whodunit by also having an intriguing set of characters and terrific atmosphere.

Marcella on ITV Hub

Undercover, BBC1

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 09/03/2016 - Programme Name: Undercover - TX: n/a - Episode: Early Release (No. 1) - Picture Shows: Picture embargoed for publication until Wednesday 09/03/2016 Maya Cobbina (SOPHIE OKONEDO), Nick Johnson (ADRIAN LESTER) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Des Willie

Under pressure: Maya Cobbina (Sophie Okonedo) and Nick Johnson (Adrian Lester)

Powerful story about an undercover cop, the woman he loves and his secret past

★★★★ BBC1, Sunday, 3 April, 9pm

THE SCANDAL of how the police have in the past infiltrated protest groups and some officers went so far as to have affairs or even start families with women they were spying on forms the backdrop to this potent drama.

While packing an emotional wallop, it also raises issues about the morality and justice of the authorities treating everyone as potentially guilty of something and deserving to have their lives invaded.

Undercover ups the ante, as any decent fictional drama should, by exploring the human feelings damaged and betrayed, and exploring the trauma such deception engenders.

Ghosts from Nick’s past

Nick is married to Maya, a human rights barrister, who we first meet as she travels to the USA to defend Rudy Jones, a man on death row. It’s a harrowing start to the story, and Maya is deeply affected when Rudy says to her that her next move should be to ‘Go big’.

When she returns home, Maya discovers that she is in line to be made Director of Public Prosecutions. While her instinct has always been to defend the accused, becoming the DPP might be an opportunity to finally bring justice to her friend Michael Antwi, an anti-racism campaigner. Maybe to ‘Go big’.

Undercover - TX: n/a - Episode: Early Release (No. 1) - Picture Shows: Nick Johnson (ADRIAN LESTER), Maya Cobbina (SOPHIE OKONEDO), Ella (Shannon Hayes) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Lee Searle

Happy holiday? Maya, Nick and their children get away from it all

This would create a huge problem for old colleagues of Nick’s. Throughout the first of the drama’s six episodes, we’re unclear what’s going with Nick, whose behaviour is tragically bizarre.

He appears to be a loving husband and father, and the family scenes with their children, including their autistic son, are convincing and warm. But Nick also has a secret life… [Read more…]

Scott & Bailey 5, ITV

RED PRODUCTION COMPANY PRESENTS SCOTT AND BAILEY FOR ITV Pictured: LESLEY SHARP as DC Janet Scott and SURANNE JOMNES as ADI Rachel Bailey. This image is the copyright of ITV and must only be used in relation to SCOTT AND BAILEY.

Close partners: Lesley Sharp as Janet Scott and Suranne Jones as Rachel Bailey

A three-part special that ups the ante for Rachel and Janet as they deal with a particularly chilling murder spree

★★★★ ITV, Wednesday, 13 April, 9pm

IT’S ALL CHANGE in this engrossing cop drama. DCI Gill Murray has retired and Acting Detective Inspector Rachel Bailey is back from a vice squad secondment in London. Detective Constable Janet Scott’s romance nearly ended in marriage, but has now simply ended.

There is also some awkwardness as they get reacquainted, because hotheaded Rachel (Suranne Jones) has not been great at returning texts and messages from Janet (Lesley Sharp).

In this three-part story, the pair must soon reunite to take on a sinister internet investigation. Using her newly acquired Vice authority, Rachel accesses the Dark Net and discovers that a murder is part of a disturbing scene in which people brag about committing murders and challenge each other to chalk up their own killings.

Janet’s daughter is in big trouble

RED PRODUCTION COMPANY PRESENTS SCOTT AND BAILEY FOR ITV Pictured: LESLEY SHARP as DC Janet Scott ,JUDITH BARKER as Dorothy and HARRIET WATERS as Tasie Scott. This image is the copyright of ITV and must only be used in relation to SCOTT AND BAILEY.

Home life: Janet and her mum Dorothy are worried about Tasie

Scott & Bailey has a rap sheet of gruesome crime portrayals – remember mass killer Joe Bevan from series 3? – and this is another powerful story. Having it play out over three episodes gives writer Lee Warburton (the Corrie actor-turned-writer, who penned episodes for S&B 4) the chance to develop fully the inter-office personal dramas, the frictions between chalk-and-cheese Scott and Bailey, and the intricacies of the murder hunt.

And there is plenty at stake for the characters. There is a death among the Syndicate 9 team, Janet’s confronted by her teenage daughter Taisie getting into serious trouble with the police, and Rachel must deal with the fallout from her reckless behaviour in London.

In addition, there’s a new team member to get up Rachel’s nose, DC Anna Ram (Jing Lusi). Meanwhile, Pippa Haywood becomes a regular cast member as Rachel’s boss, DSI Julie Dobson.

[Read more…]

The Tunnel: Sabotage, Sky Atlantic

The Tunnel - Series II

The pressure is on: Karl and Elise

Clémence Poésy and Stephen Dillane are reunited for more cross-border intrigue in Sky Atlantic’s big-action thriller

★★★½ Sky Atlantic, Tuesday, 5 April, 9pm

TUNNEL VISION returns to Sky Atlantic with another punchy, explosive instalment of the series inspired by The Bridge.

The Tunnel 2

Evil-doers: The gang of three

The world has changed a lot for Elise. A year on from the events of the last series, she is now the boss of her unit, and having to do managerial courses to learn how to deal with people in her charge. She also has a boyfriend, the waiter she met in series one.

Meanwhile, Karl has had a tough year, moving on to a new job in the police, struggling to cope with events from the past.

Clémence Poésy and Stephen Dillane

The action – and there’s quite a bit of it – kicks off when a couple are abducted from a Euro Star carriage, leaving their traumatised daughter behind. The wife is a French government cyber security chief, he’s big in software.

French investigator Elise Wassermann (Clémence Poésy) and British detective Karl Roebuck (Stephen Dillane) are reunited to tackle the vicious gang of terrorists responsible. However, before they can even pierce the daughter’s terrified silence, a passenger plane crashes in the Channel.

[Read more…]

Scott & Bailey 5 trailer

 

Marcella trailer, with Anna Friel

HERE’S the trailer for ITV’s new thriller Marcella, which is currently on view in cinemas. It sounds like a good one, starring Anna Friel and written by Hans Rosenfeldt, who also wrote The Bridge. Set in London with a Metropolitan Police detective at its heart, Marcella is noir thriller told with Rosenfeldt’s unflinchingly Nordic style. Over eight episodes the audience will be led through a narrative maze where any character could be a witness, victim or suspect. Marcella will get involved in a serial murder case where the modus operandi of the killer bares a striking resemblance to an unsolved spate of killings from a decade ago. Also starring Jamie Bamber, Laura Carmichael, Harry Lloyd and Nicholas Pinnock.

BUCCANEER MEDIA FOR ITV MARCELLA Images taken at the read through in London. Pictured: JAMIE BAMBER as DI Tim Williamson.

Jamie Bamber as DI Tim Williamson in rehearsal with Laura Carmichael as Maddy Stevenson