Strike: The Cuckoo’s Calling

Programme Name: Strike - The Cuckoo's Calling - TX: 15/11/2016 - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Robin Ellacott (HOLLIDAY GRAINGER), Cormoran Strike (TOM BURKE) - (C) Bronte Films - Photographer: Steffan Hill

Attraction of opposites: Robin Ellacott (Holliday Grainger) and Cormoran Strike (Tom Burke)

Entertaining three-parter following JK Rowling’s rough-but-ready private eye Cormoran Strike

★★★★

BBC1, Sunday, 27 August, 9pm

A COUPLE of years ago I was at a launch party to announce the nominations for the Crime Writers’ Association annual awards. Many of the UK’s leading crime writers were there.

Word went round the mingling authors and publishing folk that a ‘special’ guest could be arriving soon. Finally, there was a hush – the special guest had arrived. Necks were craned and there she was – JK Rowling.

It seemed extraordinary that a gathering of so many of the best crime authors around should be in near awe of her. She had been nominated for one of her books written as Robert Galbraith, the adult crime series she turned to following the conclusion of Harry Potter.

Tom Burke as Cormoran Strike

But it’s not just Potter fans and other writers by whom she is admired. I’m one of those who like her for taking no crap from ignoramuses on Twitter, for insisting the Potter movies were made in the UK, and for triumphing so splendidly over the critic-snobs who sniffed that she couldn’t write. 

The authors at the CWA that evening no doubt appreciated that only a special talent could sell 100million books. So, her latest adaption coming to BBC1 is bound to attract a huge amount of attention.

Programme Name: Strike - The Cuckoo's Calling - TX: 15/11/2016 - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Cormoran Strike (TOM BURKE) - (C) Bronte Films - Photographer: Steffan Hill

Cormoran Strike (TOM BURKE)

The Beeb has already offered a JK Rowling miniseries a couple of years ago. The Casual Vacancy starred Julia McKenzie, Keeley Hawes and Michael Gambon. It was a mystery exploring dodgy dealings in an English village.

It was a decent but rather forgettable show. I prefer this latest drama. Tom Burke is a charismatic lead as the one-legged, bear-like private eye Cormoran Strike. He is thrown together with Holliday Grainger as his new, super-efficient temp Robin Ellacott – an odd couple with a spark of attraction.

[Read more…]

Riviera, Julia Stiles, Sky Atlantic

Riviera Julia Stiles

High stakes – Julia Stiles as Georgina Clios

Super-intrigue among the super-rich on the Côte d’Azur

★★★ Sky Atlantic, Thursday, 15 June, 9pm

BEAUTIFUL CARS and yachts, lush scenery and a top-of-the-range cast make this thriller a feast for the eyes from the moment it gets going. Fortunately, the intrigue ensures there is more to it than surface gloss.

Julia Stiles, of Bourne fame, heads a cast that includes Adrian Lester, Iwan Rheon and Lena Olin. She plays Georgina Clios, an art curator who travelled the world buying masterpieces for billionaire Constantine (Anthony LaPaglia). He eventually decided to acquire her, too, and they married.

Riviera - Series 01 Sky Atlantic

Watchful – Adrian Lester as Robert Carver

Secrets and betrayals

When we meet them the marriage is a year old. This is a couple who can have a telephone conversation in which neither bats an eyelid over a snap decision on buying a painting for £30million.

However, an explosion on a super-yacht in Monte Carlo suddenly opens Georgina’s eyes to the fact that Constantine kept many secrets from her.

His ex-wife and the local detectives ask questions that alert her to his many secrets and betrayals. The first episode finishes on a neat cliffhanger that should make most thriller fans eager to see more.

Riviera - Series 01

Live fast, die rich – there is a lot at stake for the glitterati

Created by Neil Jordan

This is a terrifically lavish 10-parter from Sky Atlantic, created and co-written by Neil Jordan, who won a screenplay Oscar for The Crying Game. It is so intimidatingly a portrait of the super-rich, it makes The Night Manager, which it clearly is its companion piece, look cheap.

It even seems to have more yachts, super-yachts, bling cars, motorbikes and other hardware than a Bond film.

However, the theme of a woman delving into her her husband’s menacing secrets, is rich enough to make Riviera a high-class treat.

Jack the Ripper, Michael Caine on DVD

Jack the Ripper Michael Caine JaneSeymour

Ripping yarn – Michael Caine and Jane Seymour

★★★ DVD

Special features

jacktheripper BD 3D bigTHEY DON’T MAKE ‘EM like this anymore. Produced in 1988 to mark the centenary of the most infamous serial killer of all, this Michael Caine two-parter was a huge TV hit when first aired.

Not only did the mini-series coincide with the centenary, it was also broadcast in the US and UK in October, right in the middle of the timeframe of the original five Whitechapel horror-killings – 31 August-9 November 1888. To add to the versimilitude, Hugh Fraser as Met Commissioner Sir Charles Warren, even wore the real Warren’s clothing.

To modern eyes, however, this Thames-CBS co-production looks dated. It has a cloyingly over-the-top musical score, while the production period look just has a very fake, stagey feel to it. Today’s period dramas look far, far more convincing. Nevertheless, it won two Golden Globes (Caine and Amand Assante) and a Bafta (Assante).

Jane Seymour and Lewis Collins

The American money perhaps helped to finance an interesting cast. In addition to Caine and Assante, there were roles for Jane Seymour of Dr Quinn and Live and Let Die fame, The Professionals‘ Lewis Collins pops up, along with Susan George and the terrific Ray McAnally (My Left Foot, The Mission).

Jack the Ripper starring Michael Caine

Mean streets – as recreated in Pinewood Studios

According to Jane Seymour, Caine preferred to do only one take on his scenes before heading off for lunch with his wife. Having said that, he throws himself into the role of Chief Inspector Abberline.

The plot unfolds as a whodunit but has no great revelations about whodunit, largely inspired by the once popular Masons/Royal Family theories. It’s diverting as a relic from TV’s past, but not thought-provoking or particularly gripping.

Distributor: Network
Blu-ray/DVD RRP: £19.99/£14.99
Running Time: 198mins / 189mins
2 Discs
Special Features: Image Gallery. Feature-length widescreen version. Brand-new Dolby 5.1 mix
Certificate: 15

Line of Duty 4, Thandie Newton

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 12/03/2017 - Programme Name: Line of Duty - Series 4 - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Series Iconic **EMBARGOED UNTIL SUNDAY 12TH MARCH 2017** Detective Chief Inspector Roz Huntley (THANDIE NEWTON), Detective Sergeant Steve Arnott (MARTIN COMPSTON), Superintendent Ted Hastings (ADRIAN DUNBAR), Detective Sergeant Kate Fleming (VICKY McCLURE) - (C) World Productions - Photographer: Des Willie/ Aidan Monaghan

Suspicious minds – Det Chief Inspector Roz Huntley (Thandie Newton), Det Sergeant Steve Arnott (Martin Compston), Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar), Det Sergeant Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure)

Another breathless and twisting engagement with the corruption-busters

★★★★ BBC1, starts Sunday, 26 March, 9pm

LINE OF DUTY has got better and better in previous series. Sadly, there is no Keeley Hawes this time, but the show has mixed up the chemistry with another interesting new face – Thandie Newton.

The corruption-busters played by Martin Compston, Vicky McClure and Adrian Dunbar return. This time there is a bit of needle between newly promoted Kate Fleming (McClure) and the not newly promoted Steve Arnott (Compston).

Thandie Newton, familiar from films such as Crash and most recently TV’s Westworld, here plays DCI Roz Huntley. Her team captures a serial killer and straightaway she is under pressure to make a charge stick.

Line of Duty‘s game of mirrors

The fly in the ointment is her forensics guy, Tim Ifield (Jason Watkins), who suggests the educationally backward suspect has been framed.

Programme Name: Line of Duty - Series 4 - TX: n/a - Episode: Line of Duty - Series 4 - Ep 1 (No. 1) - Picture Shows: **EMBARGOED UNTIL 00.01HRS THURSDAY 16TH MARCH 2017** Tim Ifield (JASON WATKINS) - (C) World Productions - Photographer: Aidan Monaghan

Bringing corruption to light? Tim Ifield (Jason Watkins)

The beauty of Line of Duty is that investigating police wrongdoing is a dangerous game of mirrors, and once again the viewer is not sure who is good and not so good. The immediate face-off is between Roz and the slightly creepy Tim. But is Roz bent?

Or is Tim playing some kind of game with her? It is Tim who gets AC-12 involved at looking into Roz.

Lee Ingleby as Roz’s husband

As happened with the opening of series 3 and the explosive introduction to Daniel Mays’s  off-kilter cop Danny Waldron, once again we’re swept along in a breathless opening episode. An abduction, a frantic chase and an explosion – it’s exhausting to watch.

Programme Name: Line of Duty - Series 4 - TX: n/a - Episode: Line of Duty - Series 4 - Ep 1 (No. 1) - Picture Shows: Detective Chief Inspector Roz Huntley (THANDIE NEWTON), Detective Sergeant Kate Fleming (VICKY McCLURE) - (C) World Productions - Photographer: Aidan Monaghan

Watching the detective – Roz Huntley and Kate Fleming

Lee Ingleby plays Roz’s husband and, though he doesn’t have much to do in the opener, it is clear that her private will be a vital part of the drama.

As we’ve come to expect, the performances are compelling and the atmosphere as claustrophobic as the Victoria Line during rush hour.

It’s refreshing to have such a well-written crime series that breaks free of the traditional British obsession with period whodunits. This is rough and tough, and the climax at the end of episode one is almost absurdly nail-biting.

Broadchurch 3 – back to its best?

ITV BROADCHURCH SERIES 3 Pictured L-R: CHARLIE HIGSON as Ian,SEBASTIAN ARMESTO as Clive,JULIE HESMONDHALGH as Trish,SARAH PARISH as Cath,MARK BAAZELEY as Jim,OLIVIA COLMAN as D.S. ELLIE MILLER as Olivia,JIM HOWICK as Aaron, DAVID TENNANT as D.I Alec Hardy,GEORGINA CAMPBELL as D.C. Katie Harford, ANDREW BUCHAN as Mark,JODIE WHITTAKER as Beth,CHRIS MASON as Leo and LENNY HENRY as Ed. This photograph is (C) ITV Plc and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above. Once made available by ITV plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the transmission [TX] date and no reproduction fee will be charged. Any subsequent usage may incur a fee. This photograph must not be manipulated [excluding basic cropping] in a manner which alters the visual appearance of the person photographed deemed detrimental or inappropriate by ITV plc Picture Desk. This photograph must not be syndicated to any other company, publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Plc Picture Desk. Full Terms and conditions are available on the website www.itvpictures.com For further information please contact: Patrick.smith@itv.com

Cliffhanger – Charlie Higson, Sebastian Armesto, Julie Hesmondhalgh, Sarah Parish, Mark Bazeley, Olivia Colman, Jim Howick, David Tennant, Georgia Campbell, Andrew Buchan, Jodie Whittaker, Chris Mason and Lenny Henry

SEASON ONE of the seaside mystery made a splash, season two sank without trace. So is David Tennant and Olivia Colman’s crime series back in the groove with this third outing?

I would say, so far so good. The rape story has been harrowing but sensitively portrayed. National Television Award winner Julie Hesmondhalgh has been very good, while up to now Lenny Henry and Sarah Parish have not had too much to do.

Georgina Campbell as Miller and Hardy’s cop colleague is clearly going to be trouble. Charlie Higson has been a revelation as the shifty-looking husband of rape victim Trish (Hesmondhalgh).

Mind you, everyone other than the cops does look shifty. The red-herring addiction of the show’s writers was a predictable and overused trait of the previous series too. But it has been a pretty good first couple of episodes. What do you think?

Is the new series of Broadchurch better than series 2?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Lucky Man 2, James Nesbitt’s on a roll

James Nesbitt (DI Harry Clayton) and Thekla Reuten (Isabella Augustin) in Stan LeeÕs Lucky Man (SKY 1), episode two, series two. Photographer: Steffan Hill / © 2016 Carnival Films

Fortune smiles: James Nesbitt (DI Harry Clayton) and Thekla Reuten (Isabella Augustin)

IF YOU’RE a British TV fan then you would have most certainly heard of the actor James Nesbitt. Since his acting breakthrough in the romantic-comedy drama Cold Feet, his acting career has gone from strength to strength.

From his ‘cheeky chappie’ roles, he went on to pursue more serious parts that won him numerous awards. And now he is back again in the exciting new Marvel Legend’s drama series Lucky Man, which was confirmed to run for a second series last year.

It’s fair to say that this popular TV show (dubbed Sky 1’s biggest hit drama to date) is set for a successful second round.

Will there be Lucky Man 3?

With all of the drama currently going on in the world, for example Donald Trump taking office in the White House, it is easy to see why the superhero-esque show has gained such a following. We are clearly all in need of a little respite from the news.

In a recent interview Nesbitt himself said that, ‘It’s hard to focus everything on the worry of Brexit, extremism and Donald Trump because at home we’re just enjoying what I suppose would be called a post-war optimism.’

This is possibly one of the best ways of explaining why the hit TV show has built up such a following. Lucky Man has captured the imagination of approximately 1.9 million people and fans are already chatting about the possibility of the show coming back for a third round following the latest instalment.

James Nesbitt (DI Harry Clayton) in Stan Lee’s Lucky Man (SKY 1), episode two, series two.

Tunnel vision: DI Harry Clayton

Harry Clayton is cursed with luck

Perhaps one of the most intriguing things about Lucky Man is the fact that James is able to play a superhero while retaining his own Irish accent, which makes a refreshing change to the American accents we typically see with Marvel productions.

In the show, Nesbitt plays a detective inspector called Harry Clayton. He is a gambling addict who comes into the possession of an ancient bracelet that makes his able to control his luck.

While Nesbitt’s character may seem like he has it all, the power that comes with luck also brings things with it that counter-acts the successes…

Co-stars Eve Best and Sienna Guillory

The idea of being able to control the way you win and lose in life is obviously something that resonates with the show’s viewers. But there may be more to the show than simply that.

Viewers have been so taken by it and have allowed it to enter their homes due to the unique twist of combining a crowd-pleasing crime drama with the added element of Stan Lee’s Marvel talents.

This, alongside a strong cast of actors (Eve Best, Sienna Guillory, Steven Mackintosh) means this show is sure to be remembered for a long time to come. Will Lucky Man return for a third time? Time will tell, but it’s definitely not impossible with the reviews it’s getting today!

Stan Lee’s Lucky Man season 2 is on Sky1, Fridays 9pm

Prime Suspect 1973, Stefanie Martini

ITV PRIME SUSPECT 1973 Pictured :STEFANIE MARTINI as Jane Tennison. This photograph is (C) ITV Plc and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above. Once made available by ITV plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the transmission [TX] date and no reproduction fee will be charged. Any subsequent usage may incur a fee. This photograph must not be manipulated [excluding basic cropping] in a manner which alters the visual appearance of the person photographed deemed detrimental or inappropriate by ITV plc Picture Desk. This photograph must not be syndicated to any other company, publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Plc Picture Desk. Full Terms and conditions are available on the website www.itvpictures.com For further information please contact: Patrick.smith@itv.com

If the cap fits – Stefanie Martini as novice cop Jane Tennison

A prequel that tries hard but is nowhere near as arresting as the original

★★★ ITV, Thursday, 2 March, 9pm

IT’S BEEN nine years since DCI Jane Tennison, played so unforgettably by Helen Mirren, gave up her warrant card. Lynda La Plante’s Prime Suspect originally launched in 1991 and had a huge impact with its depiction of a determined woman in a workplace male stronghold and some gritty storylines.

As happened with Morse, however, ITV couldn’t let it go. Where Endeavour has gone already, Prime Suspect 1973 now follows.

Stefanie Martini is the fresh-face WPC Tennison. She’s a ‘posh sort’ from Maida Vale, defying her stuffy parents to work as a put-upon constable in Hackney.

Tennison’s first murder case

If the sexism was bad in 1991, it was epic in 1973. The 22-year-old Tennison is obliged to make tea, put up with regular bollockings, male leering and wipe up vomit when a prisoner pukes.

ITV PRIME SUSPECT 1973 Pictured L-R :JESSICA GUNNING as Kath Morgan,TOMMY MCDONNELL as DC Hudson,STEFANIE MARTINI as Jane Tennison,SAM REID as DCI Len Bradfield,JOSHUA HILL as DC Edwards,DANIEL EZRA as DC Ashton and BLAKE HARRISON as DS Spencer Gibbs. This photograph is (C) ITV Plc and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above. Once made available by ITV plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the transmission [TX] date and no reproduction fee will be charged. Any subsequent usage may incur a fee. This photograph must not be manipulated [excluding basic cropping] in a manner which alters the visual appearance of the person photographed deemed detrimental or inappropriate by ITV plc Picture Desk. This photograph must not be syndicated to any other company, publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Plc Picture Desk. Full Terms and conditions are available on the website www.itvpictures.com For further information please contact: Patrick.smith@itv.com

Police line-up – Jessica Gunning as Kath Morgan,Tommy McDonnell as DC Hudson,Stefanie Martini as Jane Tennison,San Reid as DCI Len Bradfield, Joshua Hill as DC Edwards, Daniel Ezra as DC Ashton and Blake Harrison as DS Gibbs

Meanwhile, a teenage female is found strangled on the Kingsmead Estate. She is a young runaway.

What lets this series opener down is that it feels flat. The male neanderthals we know well. And how many crime series have opened with the corpse of a young woman.

Love in the air already?

Romance with Tennison’s sympathetic boss, the similarly posh DI Bradfield (Sam Reid), could be looming and it’s obvious that the novice is going to try to solve the murder case single-handedly.

The original set such high standards that it was hard not to hope that this reboot, based on Lynda La Plante’s bestselling novel Tennison, would shake us up with something distinctive. Instead, it’s sort of OK.

ITV PRIME SUSPECT 1973 Pictured :STEFANIE MARTINI as Jane Tennison. This photograph is (C) ITV Plc and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above. Once made available by ITV plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the transmission [TX] date and no reproduction fee will be charged. Any subsequent usage may incur a fee. This photograph must not be manipulated [excluding basic cropping] in a manner which alters the visual appearance of the person photographed deemed detrimental or inappropriate by ITV plc Picture Desk. This photograph must not be syndicated to any other company, publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Plc Picture Desk. Full Terms and conditions are available on the website www.itvpictures.com For further information please contact: Patrick.smith@itv.com

Sharp end – Tennison’s first autopsy

Many TV dramas these days have intricately woven stories running simultaneously. This has a little business going on in prison with Alun Armstrong, but otherwise it follows Tennison’s introduction to vomit clean-ups, the emotional next-of-kin visit and an autopsy.

Its good points are a pretty decent cast, the realistic Hackney setting and that the period depiction is not a nostalgia fest. Alun Armstrong is always good value, and Stefanie Martini has the star presence to hold together what is, unfortunately, a rather cliched story.

Prime Suspect – Killer TV No5

SS-GB, Sam Riley, Kate Bosworth

SS-GB - Episode: SSGB - Picture Shows: Detective Superintendent Douglas Archer. Detective Superintendent Douglas Archer (SAM RILEY) - (C) Sid Gentle Films - Photographer: Sid Gentle Films

Trapped – Detective Superintendent Douglas Archer (Sam Riley)

The Nazis rule Britain in this decent adaptation of Len Deighton’s thriller

★★★ BBC1 Sunday, 19 February, 9pm

WHAT WOULD have happened if the Battle of Britain had been lost?

SS-GB, based on Len Deighton’s 1978 novel, imagines how this scenario plays out. Buckingham Palace in ruins, Swastikas over Westminster and the SS breathing down our necks, is the vision offered.

As alternative histories go – we’ve had Fatherland, The Man in the High Castle, 11/22/63 in recent years – this BBC production is better at the personal drama than depicting the nightmare of Britain subverted by Nazism.

Starring Sam Riley

The Man in the High Castle had more impact at slapping us in the face with chilling and imaginative scenes of Axis occupation in the USA. Whereas in SS-GB, it is the plight of detective Douglas Archer that is the nightmare that keeps us watching. It’s basically a good police procedural with What-If backdrop.

SS-GB Dr Oskar Huth (LARS EIDINGER) - (C) Sid Gentle Films Ltd - Photographer: Screen Grab

Nazi piece of work – Dr Oskar Huth (Lars Eidinger)

Archer, played by Sam Riley (who looks too young to be a 1940s senior Scotland Yard detective), investigates what seems a simple black market murder. But when he is informed that Himmler’s right-hand Rottweiler, SS Standartenfuehrer Dr Oskar Huth (Lars Eidinger), is flying in from Berlin to oversee the case, it’s clear there is something darker going on.

The English detective is met by torn loyalties at every turn. His lover, Sylvia Manning (Maeve Dermody), puts him to shame with her ballsy defiance of the occupiers. His sergeant, Harry Woods (James Cosmo), also seems less under the thumb of the Germans than he should be.

SS-GB - Episode: SSGB - Picture Shows: Detective Superintendent Douglas Archer. Detective Superintendent Douglas Archer (SAM RILEY) - (C) Sid Gentle Films - Photographer: Sid Gentle Films

Allies – Archer with Barbara Barga (Kate Bosworth)

Kate Bosworth adds mystery

His own schoolboy son is growing enamoured of the smart Nazi uniforms. And finally, Archer has mixed feelings about the British resistance movement – for how long will he be able to work under Huth’s brutal direction? [Read more…]

%d bloggers like this: