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.

 Suranne Jones is executive producer

Scott and Bailey ITV Jing Lusi

New face: Jing Lusi as DC Anna Ram

Many series – Lewis, Midsomer – basically stay the same, and that’s the way their audiences like them. But S&B has protagonists that have matured and changed, which is probably more difficult to get right but definitely part of the series’ popular success.

It must be particularly satisfying for Suranne Jones, who thought up the idea for S&B with Sally Lindsay and is executive producer on this latest series.

Series 3, starring Nicola Walker as the unforgettable victim Helen who ended up taking Gill Murray hostage, was S&B’s undoubted high point. But the series continues to step boldly forward with characters who are compelling.

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