Luther series 3, BBC1, with Idris Elba, Warren Brown, Sienna Guillory PREVIEW

Idris Elba as John Luther in the third series of BBC1's Luther
He’s a smasher – Idris Elba as DCI John Luther. Pics: BBC

Rating: ★★★½

BBC1: starts Tuesday, 2 July, 9pm 

Story: Luther is loaded up with two big murder cases – one for a fetishist who is killing women, and the other involving the death of a malicious internet tormentor – while inside the police force itself, an operation is underway to nail the detective for past transgressions.

THE GOTHIC COP is back. John Luther, gloomy, dealing with grotesque cases that often have supernatural echoes, is giving it large once again – dangling suspects over balconies, having punch-ups with other detectives and messing with the minds of the deranged.

Idris Elba in BBC1's Luther, series 3
Out on his own – Luther is targeted

In what could the series’ last outing before creator Neil Cross transfers the character to the big screen,
Luther has a lot on his plate. He’s after a creepy fetishistic killer of women who seems to be emulating 1980s murderer the Shoreditch Creeper, a case that was never solved.

This being Luther, the killer has to have a wacky MO, so the Creeper would pleasure himself while sucking his victims’ toes. The contemporary copycat seems to be dressing up his victims like someone from his past.

DSU George Stark is gunning for Luther

DSU George Stark (DAVID O'HARA) in BBC1's Luther
Stark choice – David O’Hara as Luther’s enemy

The stories are always totally unbelievable in Luther, but what sells it are Idris Elba as the force-of-nature, intuitive cop – once again, he literally towers over everyone here – along with the show’s chilling atmosphere. In this brooding opener, the gore takes second place to some stomach-tightening set-piece moments.

What lifts this third series above the others, however, are two new plot developments. The first is the arrival of David O’Hara as DSU George Stark. The Scottish actor has a presence and raw menace to make him a formidable foe for our anti-hero, and his character is out to see Luther go down for killings he is suspected of carrying out during past investigations.

O’Hara, along with DCI Erin Gray (Nikki Amuka-Bird), intimidates Luther’s deputy and best friend, Ripley, into spying on John. Once again, implausibility reigns and Ripley seems to speedily fall in line.

Love is in the air with the arrival of Sienna Guillory

DCI John Luther (IDRIS ELBA), Mary Day (SIENNA GUILLORY) in BBC1's Luther
Luther dates Mary in a, er, fast food cafe

The plan involves loading another murder case onto Luther – that of a malicious internet tormentor.

Again, the plot is stretched beyond plausibility as Stark and Gray know who the murderer is, but for some reason think Luther will let him go, and then they can arrest the detective.

Yet the drama is still nicely poised for an almighty showdown between Luther and Stark. As Stark says, ‘He doesn’t know it, but his good fortune ran out the day I heard his name.’

The other juicy storyline is another new character that Luther runs into, literally, in his car. This is Mary Day, played by Sienna Guillory. Love is in the air immediately, and the detective, whose wife Zoe was murdered in the first series, seems about to relieve some of his gloomy work obsessiveness with a bit of romance.

Watch out for Alice…

Alice Morgan (RUTH WILSON) in BBC1's Luther
Lurking – Alice Morgan

But with Stark after him, and the impending return of the show’s favourite pantomime genius psychopath, Alice Morgan (Ruth Wilson), the woman with whom Luther has a – wouldn’t you know it – reality-defying bond, the course of true love is unlikely to run smoothly.

Luther is a frustrating series. It gets so much right – terrific performers, intriguing conflicts and it’s dripping with atmosphere.

But it’s not just the series’ killers who are off their rockers. The whole drama could do with an occasional reality check.

Cast: Idris Elba DCI John Luther, Warren Brown DS Justin Ripley, Sienna Guillory Mary Day, David O’Hara DSU George Stark, Nikki Amuka-Bird DCI Erin Gray, Dermot Crowley DSU Martin Schenk, Michael Smiley Benny Deadhead

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Comments

  1. I agree completely with your post. It seems to me Neil Cross has watched the Batman films a bit too often.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hey whats wrong with bit of Cockney/Gotham action? If I want reality, I open my front door. But if I turn on my TV, I want to be entertained!

  3. Anonymous says:

    What is the name of the actor who plays the creepy psycho who crawled out from under the bed, eek!

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