Lewis – series 5 PREVIEW

Hathaway (Laurence Fox) and Lewis (Kevin Whately). Pics: (C) ITV Plc

Rating ★★★

ITV1, from Sunday, 3 April, 8pm

Lewis series five will be getting some viewers very excited. This spin-off from the fondly remembered Inspector Morse is as comfy as an old glove, and the Oxford setting as distantly aspirational as an idealised university town can be.

And it’s still lush (as they say in Wales). Lush string music (by Barrington Pheloung), lush photography, lush guest stars. It’s a well-mounted and familiar procedural that springs few surprises but should still delight its fans in an amazing 120 countries.

Juliet Stevenson plays a haughty, ‘famously celebate’ Professor Diana Ellerby in the opener, Old, Unhappy, Far Off Things. A leading light in the feminist movement, she’s leaving Oxford’s last all-female college and heading to Princeton. At her leaving do, however, one of her former students, Poppy, is found murdered at the foot of some stairs.

Juliet Stevenson, Zoë Telford and Stephanie Street

Juliet Stevenson and Zoë Telford

Kevin Whately’s Lewis furrows his brow at the whole business, convinced it is somehow linked to an attack from 10 years previously, which involved another of the prof’s golden set. This was Ruth Brook (Hattie Morahan), whose 15-year-old sister, Chloe (Antonia Campbell Hughes), has been in a coma ever since.

Actresses Zoë Telford and Stephanie Street enliven the plot as other snooty members of Diana’s circle, who it seems have had their lives blighted by a secret hate campaign waged against them.
Of course, the college is riven with old secrets and further deaths must follow before all is revealed.

The episode briefly develops a heartbeat when Saskia Reeves appears as Ali McLennan, a former colleague of Lewis’s. She has a twinkle in her eye for her old boss and provides a few smiles amid all the grumpy faces talking of blunt instruments and time of death.

A lot of dead women in this new series

Zoë Telford, Stephanie Street and Hattie Morahan

One trademark weakness of long-running series like this is that the principals, such as Lewis and Hathaway (Laurence Fox) here, barely ever come alive. They drink in the pub, Hathaway listens to Mozart on his iPod, and Lewis thinks his sergeant is all right. And that’s just about it. So when Ali threatens to set Lewis’s pulse stirring, this storyline is quickly terminated.

There is also a quite outrageous coincidence in this episode involving Chloe, which makes your jaw drop for the wrong reasons. The series always requires a huge suspension of disbelief, but this ‘twist’ was a bit cheeky.

There are four two-hour stories in this new series, all involving a lot of dead females: Wild Justice, which kicks off with a poisoned female bishop, and stars Ronald Pickup; The Mind Has Mountains, in which a young female student taking part in a drugs trial is found dead, with Douglas Henshall; and the The Gift of Promise, which sees a businesswoman brutally bludgeoned to death, and starring Cherie Lunghi, Lorcan Cranitch and Anna Chancellor.

Lewis is a money-spinner for ITV and will no doubt continue for as long as viewers in Britain and around the world want to ogle the picturesque quads and sinister professors, which bear as much likeness to the education most of us receive as a term at Hogwarts.

But it would be nice if Lewis and Hathaway could one day get a life to go with the corpses.


  1. Anonymous says:

    I have no idea if you will still read this, but I was happy to read your blog about this episode.

    I’ve just watched this episode via internet and I think there are more flaws in the plot. At the end I couldn’t find an explanation for these:
    Why after 10 years did Poppy became a threat to Diana that she decided to kill her?
    Then why should it be a problem that the freshman heard someone, it was to be thought that Poppy was killed accidently because she catched up with the “thief”.
    And what threat was Ali to Diana at all? She was blackmailing Poppy because she thought Poppy was the one who killed Judd. So that should be especially convenient for Diana to leave it that way, wouldn’t it?
    Chloe was supposed to be attacked by Judd and she was thrown out of the window. I find it very farfetched to assume that Diana and Poppy cleaned the room and got rid of Judd, in such way that after police inquery Judd was the alleged killer.
    And all these years there was the threat for Diana that Chloe might wake up and tell the truth. So why wasn’t she killed by Diana as soon as possible?

    I think most of the episodes are more plausible and anyhow I stil enjoyed watching 🙂

    kind regards,

  2. Yeah, this one creaked a bit.

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