A shocking murder kicks off a tense conspiracy thriller
★★★★ ITV, Thursday, 29 September, 9pm
TV IS SO OBSESSED with crime drama that it’s hard for any new series to stand out from the mass of cops-and-killer yarns. Paranoid does stand out. It initially has the hallmarks of a traditional whodunit – but then pulls off the trick of veering into darker territory.
It starts with the shocking murder of a mother in a playground. You know the formula – star detectives in plastic suits turn up and make cynical comments to the forensics team.
And when CCTV fingers Jacob Appleby, a suspect suffering from psychopathic schizophrenia, it all looks straightforward. However, events turn more ominous.
Robert Glenister as Bobby Day
One of the detectives, Bobby Day (an affecting turn from Robert Glenister), thinks someone is watching the police. And when messages turn up at the police station for Day, it is clear there is more to the murder of mum Angela Benton, a GP, than meets the eye.
One of the messages – ‘You have no idea what you’re up against’ – is a clear warning.
What makes this mystery engrossing is the interesting characters writer Bill Gallagher has created. His credits include Lark Rise to Candleford and The Paradise, so Paranoid seems an interesting shift of gear for him.
The police characters certainly have their own demons. Bobby Day is suffering from panic attacks, which he tries to hide from his colleagues.
Can Lesley Sharp’s character be trusted?
However, Lucy Cannonbury (Lesley Sharp), the witness who grabs Angela Benton’s young son to protect him after she is attacked, realises Day is suffering. She offers a sympathetic ear.
Days’ colleague Nina (Indira Varma) is suspicious of Lucy, whose recall of events seems strangely detailed. Meanwhile, Nina has been ditched by her boyfriend and is badly rattled by this.
Finally, Alec (nice debut from newcomer Dino Fetscher) has private reasons to be disturbed by the psychiatrist who treated Appleby.
Action moves from UK to Germany
All of which creates an intriguing dynamic between the trio as they face a case that seems dangerously daunting.
The atmosphere touches on the supernatural at times, and the action swings from Cheshire to Germany.
It certainly gets off to a tense and compelling start. If the remaining seven episodes can maintain the gripping narrative, Paranoid should be a hit.