Ripper Street 3, Matthew Macfadyen, Jerome Flynn

Whitechapel series 3

East Enders – Jackson, Long Susan, Reid and Drake

The crime-fighters of Victorian Whitechapel return with a new spectacular series

★★★ BBC1, Friday, 31 July, 9pm

STAR TREK and Cagney and Lacey were both among those shows axed by TV honchos only to be resurrected after fan pressure. Both vindicated their reprieves and went on to huge success.

Ripper Street 3, Capt Jackson

Gung-ho Jackson to the rescue

Ripper Street is unlikely to enjoy such admired longevity. It’s lurid and as believable as a graphic novel. with its theme-park depiction of Jack the Ripper’s London.

But back it is, so a hardcore of devotees will be delighted that their favourite is the first UK show to be revived by a streaming service, in this case Amazon Prime Video (which originally showed the series to its UK subscribers last autumn). In addition, Amazon Prime has already ordered series four and five for future production and seem to have pumped more money into this fairly lavish eight-part instalment.

Train disaster for Reid to investigate

The opener, Whitechapel Terminus, features a spectacular head-on train smash, with the carriages and mutilated

Ripper Street series 3 in production

Behind the scenes of Ripper Street

bodies raining down on Leman Street. This all picks up four years after the previous series, which finished with Detective Inspector Edmund Reid (Matthew Macfadyen) and the American surgeon Captain Homer Jackson (Adam Rothenberg) at loggerheads and Bennet Drake (Jerome Flynn) broken in grief.

Here they are pulled back together in the search for the “general” behind the rail calamity. Robbery was the motive and before the episode’s end, Reid already has his suspicions about who may have been behind it. [Read more…]

Agatha Christie’s Partners in Crime, with David Walliams, Jessica Raine

Tommy (DAVID WALLIAMS), Tuppance (JESSICA RAINE)in BBC1's Agatha Christie's Partners in Crime

On the run – Tommy (David Walliams) and Tuppence (Jessica Raine)

Agatha Christie’s investigative husband and wife Tommy and Tuppence in a jolly decent period mystery

★★★½ BBC1, starts Sunday, 26 July, 9pm

FROM THE cosy era of crime novels comes this cosy drama, starring David Walliams and Jessica Raine as Agatha Christie’s sleuthing couple Tommy and Tuppence.

Tommy (DAVID WALLIAMS), Tuppance (JESSICA RAINE)

Detective novels for Tuppence, the newspaper for Tommy

It’s a polished Sunday-night, 1950s piece, with lovely costumes, twee villages full of Morris Minors and a dog called Tiffin. With ITV having mined the Poirot/Marple library to exhaustion, the Beeb must be delighted to get its hands on the Agatha Christie jewels at last.

As David Walliams says: ‘In bringing these thrilling stories to the screen, it is our ambition for Tommy and Tuppence to finally take their rightful place alongside Poirot and Marple as iconic Agatha Christie characters.’

David Walliams and Jessica Raine well cast

The most popular author of all time wrote the first Tommy and Tuppence mystery in 1922, and this new screen incarnation does a good job of breathing life into the duo for a modern audience. Walliams and Raine are certainly well cast as the cack-handed Tommy – ‘pipe-and-slippers man’, according to his uncle – and the have-a-go Tuppence.

Robert Whitelock (as Conrad) and David Walliams (as Tommy Beresford) Episode One: ‘The Secret Adversary’

Rough stuff – Tommy in a tight spot

David Walliams can play ineffectual fastidiousness in his sleep, while Jessica Raine is very good as the wife who wears the trousers. Award-winning author Zinnie Harris’s adaptation has fun with the pair, giving the stories a modern feel with some delicate fruity banter between the couple, such as Tuppence in a blonde-wig disguise pricking Tommy’s buttoned-up ardour.

The Secret Adversary is the first of two three-part tales. It begins with T&T encountering a lady who vanishes on a train. They’re travelling from Paris to London when Jane Finn disappears and the passengers are ordered to change trains. [Read more…]

Major new crime dramas for autumn

The Last Panthers, Hand of God, Narcos, Lucky Man, The Five

THE SETTING at the exclusive top-floor club of London’s Gherkin was swanky enough to impress to the shady ‘banksters’ featured in Sky Atlantic‘s ambitious new Euro-thriller The Last Panthers.IMG_0844

The channel had taken over the glass eyrie with its mesmerising views of the capital, pictured right, to treat journalists from Britain and France to a glimpse of the work in progress. TV critics from The Times, The Guardian and Heat, along with CrimeTimePreview, mingled with Sky’s MD of Content Gary Davey before viewing selected scenes from the multi-lingual crime drama, starring Samantha Morton, Tahar Rahim and John Hurt.

The dinner event and wonderful location were a sign that Sky Atlantic has high hopes for this sophisticated series. It’s a partnership production between Sky Atlantic, Canal + and Sky Deutschland and is filmed in London, Marseille, Belgrade and Montenegro.

The story is based on an idea by French journalist Jerome Pierrat, an expert on Europe-wide crime. It is inspired by the Pink Panthers, Interpol’s name for a real gang of Serbs and Montenegrins, several of them former soldiers, who performed audacious jewel heists, targeting several countries.IMG_0841

The drama begins with a tense jewel robbery, but the story also shifts the narrative back to 1995 and traces the roots of the gang. It looks like a big, sweeping thriller. Samantha Morton glams down for the role of the loss adjustor sent to Balkans, while John Hurt is the seasoned honcho who’s her boss. In English, French and Serbian, The Last Panthers looks to have a lot more going on in it than your average episode of Lewis.

It’s scheduled for November…

Moving on, just take a look at this new series coming from Amazon Prime on 4 September. Hand of God! starring Golden Globe winner Ron Perlman, fresh from Sons of Anarchy, looks just a little unhinged. He’s playing a bent judge in a bind who seems to think he’s  been chosen by God himself to seek vengeance. It’s certainly off-kilter enough to be worth a gander.

Netflix also has a major new crime drama streaming soon. Narcos is a big show telling the story of US and Colombian efforts during the 1980s to take on the mega-powerful Medellin drug cartel. The trailer makes what is a complex and bloody story look like a rollicking good action series, but trailers can be misleading. It will be interesting to see if Netflix can do this huge story justice.

Finally, Sky1 also has two intriguing series looming. Lucky Man stars James Nesbitt in a high-concept series created by comic-book legend Stan Lee (co-creator of Spider-Man, the Hulk etc). Nesbitt plays a cop from London’s Murder Squad who is given an ancient bracelet that gives him the ability to control luck. This has an attractive cast, including Eve Best, Sienna Guillory and Darren Boyd, and what could be a fascinating premise.

Co-creator Neil Biswas says: ‘Is the bracelet really bringing him luck, or is it just another manifestation of the gambling addiction that has always plagued him?’

There is also a lot of buzz around The Five, bestselling thriller author Harlan Coben‘s first original story for TV. Created by Coben, writer of novels such as Tell No One and Gone for Good, and scripted by Bafta-winner Danny Brocklehurst, this 10-parter follows a group of friends haunted by a terrible incident in their childhood. It stars Tom Cullen, O-T Fagbenle, Lee Ingleby and Geraldine James.

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

GARROWS-LAW-TALES-FROM-TH-006

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.

[http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b017gcq9#supporting-content

http://www.garrowsociety.org/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00w5c2w

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.

[Read more…]

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.

[Read more…]

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.

[Read more…]

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