The Fall, BBC2, with Gillian Anderson, Jamie Dornan PREVIEW

The Fall BBC2 The serial killer Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan) and DSI Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson)
Hunting the hunter – Gillian Anderson as DSI Gibson. Pics: BBC

Rating: ★★★★½

BBC2: Monday, 13 May, 9pm

StoryWhen a murder in Belfast remains unsolved, DSI Stella Gibson is brought in from the London Metropolitan Police to review the case. She soon suspects that the killing is related to another murder.

GILLIAN ANDERSON stars alongside relative newcomer Jamie Dornan in this complex and dark serial killer drama, set in Belfast.

While the fiendishly brilliant serial murderer has become a cop show cliche since The Silence of the Lambs, The Fall is a far more intriguing portrait of a lone killer operating under the guise of your normal family man.

Unfolding with visual flair (directed by Jakob Verbruggen) and with multi-layered characters written by Allan Cubitt (one of the Prime Suspect writers), this will fill the Monday night hole left by Broadchurch in the must-see TV stakes.

The Fall BBC2 DSI Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson)
Stella wants to head the investigation

The Fall is not a whodunit
Not that The Fall is a whodunit like the David Tennant/Olivia Colman series. It is more a how-will-they-catch-him gripper.

DSI Stella Gibson is called in from the Met in London to review a Belfast murder inquiry that has stalled. The female victim is the daughter of a politician.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland has investigated many sectarian killings down the years, but the sexually motivated murder is a crime they have little experience of. It is not long before Gibson suggests the killing may be linked to an earlier crime in which a woman’s bound body was found in her wardrobe.

Paul Spector – daddy and stalker

The Fall BBC2 The serial killer Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan) and his wife Sally Ann (Bronagh Waugh)
Family man Paul and his wife, Sally-Ann

The audience knows more than the characters in this drama, because we can see Paul Spector going about his daily routine as a grief counsellor, daddy, stalker and predator. As he talks through the grief of one bereaved couple in his office, he sits drawing nude sketches of the mother before him.

Outside of work he has in his sights a young female solicitor, a brunette whom we soon realise fits a type he is obsessed with, and he burgles her home, arranging her underwear on her bed for when she returns.

More chilling are the scenes of him at home, father to his children and husband to his wife, who’s a nurse. The monster hiding behind a mask.

The Fall vs Hannibal
Gibson, whom Gillian Anderson plays as an understated but formidable personality, starts to ruffle the local force with her theory that a sexual predator is at work. She puts herself forward to head the Task Force to hunt the hunter.

Solicitor Sarah is stalked

The story is plausible and down-to-earth, and doesn’t rely on mad plot twists to keep us engaged. And Dornan, the former Calvin Klein model perhaps best known as the sheriff from the fantasy series Once Upon a Time, is by turns warm, cold and intense as the devious, narcissistic, stalking, peeping killer.

The opening episode (of five) ends on a chilling note that will have viewers on the edge of their seats for more.

Incidentally, Gillian Anderson, who since her cult stardom in The X Files in the 1990s has been something of a BBC costume star in recent years (Bleak House, The Crimson Petal and the White, Great Expectations), can currently also be seen in Hannibal over on Sky Living. But while the Hannibal Lector show is full of gore and outlandishly twisted murders, The Fall is nearer the truth and a far more engrossing portrayal of a killer among us.

Cast: Gillian Anderson Stella Gibson, Jamie Dornan Paul Spector, Archie Panjabi Tanya Reed Smith, Bronagh Waugh Sally-Ann Spector, John Lynch Jim Burns, Niamh McGrady Danielle Ferrington, Laura Donnelly Sarah Kay, Frank McCusker Garrett Brink, Simon Delaney Jerry McElroy, Siobhan McSweeney Mary McCurdy, Gerard Jordan Brian Stone, Michael McElhatton Rob Breedlove, Ben Peel James Olson, Karen Hassen Annie Brawley, Lisa Hogg Marion Kay, Emmett Scanlan Glen Martin, Aisling Francios Katie

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