Sherlock Christmas special trailer

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH and Martin Freeman seem to have slipped into a different time zone for this Christmas’s special instalment of the BBC’s much admired drama. Its USP, of course, has been that showrunner Steven Moffat had placed Holmes and Watson in a contemporary setting. But for the special, perhaps he and co-writer Mark Gatiss had snowy Victorian Christmas scenes stuck in their heads and decided to go retro. Moffatt told the Comic-Con crowd, where this trailer was unveiled, that “It’s still the same sense of humour, it’s still very much the show you know… But it’s in the ‘correct’ era, which was unbelievably thrilling.” So, what doyou think? Comments above, please…

Garrow’s Law — Killer TV No 30


BBC, 2009-2012

‘You cannot insult your way to an acquittal!’ John Southouse

‘…The life of Elizabeth Jarvis is at stake, in solemn and polished injustice. I must be a ruffian to get at the truth.’ – William Garrow

Andrew Buchan, Alun Armstrong, Lyndsey Marshal, Rupert Graves, Aidan McArdle, Michael Culkin

Identikit: Legal drama based on the life and pioneering legal career of 18th-century Old Bailey barrister William Garrow.

logosAN INSPIRED idea – to use the forgotten trials of a radical Old Bailey lawyer during the late 1800s (based on digitised trial transcripts at Old Bailey Online) – gave us a fascinating and at times heartrending drama. William Garrow was a genuine maverick, a neglected hero from the archives until series co-creator Tony Marchant spotted his potential for this series. Here was a man who, like Atticus Finch, Horace Rumpole or Perry Mason, stood up for the underdog, except that Garrow really existed. One of the fascinations of this series is that in Garrow’s day the system was heavily tilted against defence counsel. Garrow, played by Andrew Buchan with the quiet fortitude that was once the speciality of James Stewart, defended the poor and desperate at whom other barristers turned up their noses. Moreover, he established the right of defence lawyers to argue the case for defendants and cross-examine prosecution witnesses. Until then, whatever flimsy cross-examination was done came from the judge or jurors. The legal murder of slaves, infanticide, industrial sabotage, rape, homosexuality – Garrow challenged the barbaric contemporary attitudes to these and other issues. The BB228005-GARROW-27S-LAW-IIsubplot of Garrow’s affair with Lady Sarah Hill is heavily fictionalised, but it is the extraordinary legal brutalities of the age, and Garrow’s brilliant victories that helped to liberalise English courtrooms, that stick in the mind. Garrow’s Law ran for three series and was doing well in its primetime slot on Sunday nights – being watched by more than four million viewers when up against the likes of The X Factor and I’m a Celebrity…  – when it abruptly came to an end. Whether this was down to new-broom BBC TV boss Danny Cohen (who notoriously also axed Zen in its early days) or because Tony Marchant didn’t want to write it any more was not clear, but Garrow’s Law was a riveting drama and is sorely missed.
Classic episode: Series 2’s opener dealt with the extraordinary case of 133 slaves thrown overboard from a slave ship when drinking water ran low. Murder was not the charge because the slaves were considered cargo, but the case reached court because of a dispute with the insurance company, which did not want to pay out for the ‘cargo’. Garrow manages, nevertheless, to turn the trial into an indictment of the slave trade.
Watercooler fact: In a murder trial Garrow once questioned a witness who later became extraordinarily famous – Horatio Nelson. Garrow asked whether the accused – who served under Nelson and whom Nelson said was ‘struck with the sun’ and acknowledged that he had himself been ‘out of his senses’ with a ‘hurt brain’ on occasion – was likely to have committed murder. Nelson replied, ‘I should as soon suspect myself, because I am hasty, he is not.’ The case was not featured directly in the series, though the issue of insanity was used in the series 3 opener about John Hadfield, who was accused of attempting to assassinate King George III.


Black Work, ITV, Sheridan Smith

MAMMOTH SCREEN LTD PRESENTS BLACK WORK for ITV. Episode 1 Pictured:   MATTHEW MCNULTY as Jack Clark, SHERIDAN SMITH as Jo Gillespie, DOUGLAS HENSHALL as DS William Hepburn. Photographer: STUART WOOD AND DES WILLIE. This image is the copyright of ITV and must be credited. The images are for one use only and to be used in relation to BLACK WORK, any further charge could incur a fee.

Engaged in Black Work –Matthew McNulty, Sheridan Smith and Douglas Henshall

Engrossing drama about a wife whose undercover cop husband is murdered, with a knockout performance from Sheridan Smith

★★★★½ ITV, day, date, time

THE TROUBLE with police procedurals is all the procedure.

Too many questions, too much note-taking, too much ‘Where were you on the night of the 14th?’

Black Work doesn’t bore us with all that. When our heroine, Jo, thinks some rowers might have seen the murderers of her undercover cop husband, the next scene cuts to her handing over a video to the police that she’s obtained from the rowers and viewed herself. We’re not put through the tedium of watching her go to the rowing club, asking questions, watching it, putting two and two together etc etc.

MAMMOTH SCREEN LTD PRESENTS BLACK WORK for ITV. Episode 1 Pictured:  SHERIDAN SMITH as Jo Gillespie. OLIVER WOOLFORD as Hal and LISA DILLON as carla. Photographer: STUART WOOD AND DES WILLIE. This image is the copyright of ITV and must be credited. The images are for one use only and to be used in relation to BLACK WORK, any further charge could incur a fee.

Tension – Jo with stepson Hal and her husband’s ex, Carla

All of which allows writer/creator Matt Charman the time to concentrate on the human drama, in the process conjuring a riveting and emotional story.

Sheridan Smith as Jo Gillespie

Sheridan Smith gives another compelling performance as Jo Gillespie following her other recent star turns for ITV as Cilla and Mrs Biggs. Jo, also a police officer, feels cut off from her distant husband, Ryan. When Ryan is murdered in a derelict warehouse on what is supposed to be his day off, Jo is besieged by questions.

She is told Ryan was working undercover, which is news to Jo. She is told she shouldn’t mention his death to their daughter and Ryan’s son by a previous partner, because secrecy is paramount as a series of arrests are about to be made.

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Stonemouth, BBC2, Peter Mullan, Christian Cooke, Charlotte Spencer

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 21/04/2015 - Programme Name: Stonemouth - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: BBC Two Launch 2015 Don (PETER MULLAN), Ellie (CHARLOTTE SPENCER), Stewart (CHRISTIAN COOKE) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Mark Mainz

Three’s a crowd – Peter Mullan, Charlotte Spencer and Christian Cooke 

Beautifully filmed and acted romantic mystery based on Iain Banks’s best-selling novel.

★★★ BBC2, starts Thursday, 11 June, 9pm

THIS BBC SCOTLAND production is a cheering reminder of Iain Banks’s fine talent for conjuring dark tales with edge and wit. As if that wasn’t enough, it also has a great setting and cast.

Stewart Gilmour returns to sea town Stonemouth following the apparent suicide of his once best mate, Callum. He was run out of town two years previously by the gangster father of his ex-fiancé, the beautiful Ellie Murston, who is also Callum’s sister.

Programme Name: Stonemouth - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows:  Stewart (CHRISTIAN COOKE) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Mark Mainz

Suspicious – Stewart

Stewart obtains the permission of Don Murston – an extremely gruff and menacing Peter Mullan – to return for Callum’s funeral, after which he has to skedaddle. It’s obvious that all sorts of skeletons are about to charge out of cupboards during Stewart’s return.

Charlotte Spencer and Christian Cooke

Programme Name: Stonemouth - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows:  Ellie (CHARLOTTE SPENCER) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Mark Mainz

The love of Stewart’s life – Ellie

Ellie is the love of his life and Stewart, who received a message from Callum the day before he died saying he was in trouble, has his doubts that his friend’s fatal plunge was self-inflicted. It’s not long before he also stumbles on an explosive secret concerning Don – or more specifically his wife. And with every thug in town – including one played by Brian Gleeson – eyeing him with suspicion, it’s clear Stewart’s visit is going to be memorable.

The story’s background unfolds in flashbacks so that we see Stewart and his circle as children and teens, bonding and falling in love. Charlotte Spencer, so good last year in C4’s Glue, is alluring as Ellie, and well complemented by another English actor convincingly playing a Scot, Christian Cooke as Stewart.

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The Interceptor, BBC1, with O-T Fagbenle

The Interceptor - Ash (OT FAGBENLE) - (C) BBC

Flat-out action – O-T Fagbenle as Ash in The Inceptor

Thrills and spills in Beeb’s new cop show, an all-action hour with the subtlety of a Riot Squad.

★★★ BBC1, starts Wednesday, 10 June, 9pm

IF YOU want a taste of The Interceptor – BBC1’s ‘gripping drama’ about state-of-the-art law enforcement – just think of Sky1’s Strike Back, the smash-bang-wallop military series based on former SAS man Chris Ryan’s novels.

Tony Saint, a writer on Strike Back, is the creator/writer of The Interceptor. It’s about a surveillance team called the UNIT, which tries to outsmart some of the country’s biggest criminals.

You may think undercover surveillance requires stealth and a low-profile, but in the hands of these guys it’s all car chases, punch-ups and guns going off. They’re about as clandestine as the Glastonbury Festival.

In a nutshell, The Interceptor is all-action, but little heart.

Cast shot for BBC1's The Interceptor

The gang’s all here – The UNIT

O-T Fagbenle is Ash

Leading the cast is O-T Fagbenle as Ash, who – as he tells us several times in the opening episode – wants to bring down the big fish. When we meet him he’s working for HM Customs with his partner Tommy. They’re larking about at Waterloo, to all appearances about to have a beer or travel to a football match.

But no, they’re actually surveilling a guy who is couriering drugs through the station. It’s no surprise when the larky boys cock-up the arrest and end up larkily chasing him round the station, falling over pushchairs and tumbling down stairs.

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Vera series 5 on DVD

image004RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 12 Discs: 2
Running time: 356 mins approx


THE RECENT FIFTH series of ITV’s Vera is now out on DVD. Inspired by the best-selling novels of Ann Cleeves, Vera has since 2011 established itself as one of the channel’s most popular mainstream crime dramas. Key to its success has, of course, been the casting of Brenda Blethyn as the indomitable DCI Vera Stanhope, who in this new series was joined by Kenny Doughty as her sidekick, DS Aiden Healy.

Apart from Doughty, there were few surprises in season five, but the usual well-produced mysteries in the beautifully filmed Northumberland setting were enough to win audiences of around six million viewers. The stories included here are Changing Tides, Old Wounds, Muddy Waters and Shadows in the Sky. It’s only a shame that they seemed to have scrimped on the DVD extras.

Cuffs starts filming in Brighton

Just as Brighton shakes off its description as the city that looks like it is “helping police with their enquiries”, along comes a starring…

CURRENTLY creating a hubbub in Brighton is the crew filming BBC1’s new crime series Cuffs. The Brighton Argus has been getting a lot of calls from locals asking what is going on as the film folk take over various parts of the city.

This looks set – if the Beeb gets it right – to be one of the year’s big new dramas. It’s starring Ashley Walters (above, in the Argus‘s picture), along with Sherlock‘s Amanda Abbington and Shaun Dooley, currently on our screens in BBC2’s The Game. It’s focuses on the town’s police officers and detectives and how they deal with local crime in a lively seaside area.

What it also has going for it is writer Julie Gearey, ex-Corrie and woman behind the terrific series Prisoners’ Wives. It is also said to be going out on weeknights at 8pm, perhaps taking over the mantle of the once-excellent The Bill.

Check out the Argus‘s article below for the latest on it. It even quotes CrimeTimePreview on the new show…

Source: BBC has high hopes for new cop drama set on streets of Brighton (From The Argus)

MP Wright on adapting Callan and Heartman for TV

Mark WrightCRIMETIMEPREVIEW talks to writer MP Wright, who turns 50 next month and has just had his first crime novel, Heartman, published to wide acclaim. Not only is it in the running for four CWA Awards, but the BBC and World Productions are adapting his evocative, dark story – about a Barbadian former police sergeant turned private detective in 1960s Bristol – into a series. 

The hero of Heartman is JT Ellington, who we meet in the book when he’s virtually down and out during a bitter 1960s winter. He is approached by a wealthy Jamaican businessman in Bristol to find a missing girl, and embarks on a perilous search that takes him into privileged circles, where sexual depravity rides hand in hand with corruption.

Having previously worked as a roadie for the likes of Duran Duran, as a private investigator and in the youth offending and probation services, Mark harboured dreams of becoming a writer for many years. Now, famine has turned to feast and he is in demand, writing more Heartman stories, working on a reboot of classic late-1960s series Callan and even talking to Channel 4 about adapting a story set during the Spanish Civil War.

He lives in Leicestershire with his partner, a school teacher, and their two children.

Can you tell us a bit about Heartman and JT Ellington?

I’ve never been into police procedurals. A lot of my crime-writer friends write them, but I’ve never been into them. But because I’ve worked in that field [probation, youth offending], procedurals always felt dull and unreal to me. I’m looking at my bookshelves now and I can see Ross Macdonald and Raymond Chandler, and I’ve always loved those kinds of writers. Jim Burke and Walter Mosley. I love stories about the downtrodden and downbeat. When you meet Ellington he’s a broken man, and when you leave him, he’s doubly broken, but there is hope. The hope comes from Vic [his cousin, a budding criminal but loyal friend].

You are working on your next Heartman book, All Through the Night. What happens in that?

I was desperate to use real events, so All Through the Night involves corrupt orphanages, which was actually happening in the Sixties in Bristol, and the sale of children to members of US Air Force in based in Somerset. The children were moved out to wealthy childless couples in the US.

I liked the idea of Ellington going on the run with a white child in 1960s Bristol. And the only to do that is all through the night. The TV company loved it. The opening is that Ellington is asked to find a Jamaican doctor who is also an illegal abortionist. He’s run off with a number of death certificates for children who’ve apparently died at orphanages. The certificates are false and the doctor knows this. He’s agreed to sign the certificates for children that have been sold. The doctor takes the next child that is to be shipped out. I take the story to places like the Cheddar Gorge, and TV dictated that we’d end the next book at the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

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