|James Purefoy as William Travers. Pics: (C) ITV|
ITV1, Monday 6 June to Friday 10 June, 9pm
The writer and creator of this drama, author Anthony Horowitz, says it’s based on a simple question about barristers – ‘How do people live with themselves when they get a horrible killer off on a teachnicality.’
ITV is devoting five consecutive nights to tell the story of Horowitz’s psychological thriller, making it the TV event of the week. James Purefoy takes the lead as William Travers, a criminal barrister who is living in Ipswich and recovering from traumatic events that have shattered his belief in the legal system.
|James Purefoy and Dervla Kirwan (as Jane)|
Dervla Kirwan is his wife, Jane, who sacrificed her publishing career to move back to the sticks with their kids to aid his recovery.
DS Wenborn – aggressive, snarling
In tandem with their story, we meet DS Mark Wenborn – a show-stealing shift from actor Charlie Creed-Miles. Wenborn’s aggressive, snarling, constantly eye-balling his poor partner, DC Nick Taylor (Obi Abili). As one colleague tells Wenborn, he’s a bastard – but a very watchable one, not above calling an elderly witness a ‘daft old bat’ to her face. Wenborn’s idea of treating his wife is to show her postmortem murder photos…
During the opening episode, we see William’s comfy middle-class life, his kids, his boat, the nice home. But we learn that he longer takes murder cases, that he has trouble sleeping and is haunted by an incident at Ipswich train station when he spots a man on the opposite platform and, agitated, decides to follow him.
|Obi Abili (Taylor) and Charlie Creed-Miles (Wenborn)|
It’s a slightly confusing episode because the shifts backwards and forwards in narrative are tricky to follow. But the whole story is suddenly pulled into focus at the end of this first hour with a stunning twist involving the shooting of a farm labourer at a remote cottage. This packs the remaining episodes with plenty of tension – what just happened, and what were the devastating events that led to Travers’ breakdown?
New murder case
The intrigue quotient is upped considerably during the second episode, when Travers is reluctantly pulled into representing another murder defendant. It’s his old friend, Martin Newall, who is accused of killing a much younger office colleague in a hotel room. Though they haven’t seen each other for years, Newall plays on their old friendship to secure Travers’ services.
|Nathaniel Parker as Martin Newall|
Nathaniel Parker is perfect as the classic married middle-aged man falling for the charms of a young woman. Travers believes Newall, who says he was out of the room when the murder was committed and whose laptop, containing sensitive commerical information, was stolen during the crime.
With Wenborn investigating the murdered farm labourer near where Travers lives, and Travers involved in a new and very murky case, the drama is bulging with jeopardy and the characters vulnerable. Anthony Horowitz is a skilful storyteller and has come up with a potent mystery here.
The production is also well made, with terrific theme music from composer Magnus Fiennes.