Crime dramas 2018 preview

Here is our annual rundown of some of the top crime series coming up. It seems there are more quality series around than ever…

The Trial of Christine Keeler, BBC1

Christine Keeler, who died earlier this month aged 75, was a the centre of one of the 20th century’s greatest British scandals, the Profumo affair. Writer Amanda Coe gives a taste of the event by describing it as ‘the Salem Witch Trial meets OJ Simpson – a perfect storm of gender, class, race and power that resonates into the world we’re living in today’. Keeler was a young woman who had an affair with government minister John Profumo. He lied about it to the House of Commons and had to resign. The fallout rocked the 1960s establishment and had tragic consequences…

Anticipation factor ★★★★★

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 02/10/2017 - Programme Name: A Very English Scandal - TX: 01/10/2017 - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: First look picture of Hugh Grant playing Jeremy Thorpe in BBC One's A Very English Scandal Jeremy Thorpe (HUGH GRANT) - (C) Blueprint Television Ltd - Photographer: Kieron McCarron

Downfall: Hugh Grant as Jeremy Thorpe

A Very English Scandal, BBC1

Hugh Grant, Ben Wishaw

Another scandal that shook Britain, this time in the 1970s. Hugh Grant, returning to British television for the first time since the early 1990s, plays the disgraced MP Jeremy Thorpe. In 1979 he was tried but acquitted of conspiring to murder his ex-lover Norman Scott, played by Ben Whishaw. Terrific cast includes Patricia Hodge, Monica Dolan and Michelle Dotrice. This three-parter is written by Bafta-winner and former Doctor Who overlord Russell T Davies. It’s directed by Stephen Frears, whose credits include Philomena and The Queen.

Anticipation factor ★★★★★

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 02/10/2017 - Programme Name: A Very English Scandal - TX: 01/10/2017 - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: First look picture of Ben Whishaw playing Norman Scott in BBC One's A Very English Scandal Norman Scott (BEN WHISHAW) - (C) Blueprint Television Ltd - Photographer: Kieron McCarron

Ben Whishaw as Norman Scott in BBC1’s A Very English Scandal

Hatton Garden, ITV

Timothy Spall, Kenneth Cranham

We almost saw this before Christmas, but it was abruptly pulled from schedules and will now be shown in 2018. It is, of course, about the spectacular London burglary pulled off by a group of, as the press labelled them, ‘diamond geezers’. It has a terrific cast and is written by Jeff Pope and Terry Windsor. Should be a cut above.

Anticipation factor ★★★★★

Mindhunter 2, Netflix

Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, Anna Torv

For me, the best crime drama of 2017 has been Netflix’s Mindhunter. Set in 1979, it is a gripping look at the challenges of setting up the FBI’s criminal profiling unit. It was superior to most TV whodunits, being an intriguing take on why-do-they-do-it. Serial killers are the subject, and the most chilling performance was that of Cameron Britton. He played the real-life killer Ed Kemper. Check out this featurette… and don’t miss the show.

Anticipation factor ★★★★★

Narcos 4, Netflix

Michael Peña, Diego Luna

Michael Pena joins Narcos

Narcos newcomer: Michael Pena

Michael Peña (Crash, American Hustle) and Diego Luna (Rogue One, Y Tu Mamá También) star in the upcoming fourth season. This time the action shifts to Mexico. It is slated to premiere later in 2018. Preview here.

Anticipation factor ★★★★★

Trauma, ITV

Adrian Lester, John Simm

Set in the trauma department of a London hospital, this is a three-parter. Fifteen-year-old Alex Reynolds dies under the care of high-achieving consultant Jon Stephens. Heartbroken, Alex’s father, Dan, believes Jon is responsible for Alex’s death. As he strives for justice, he begins to unpick the fabric of Jon’s life. Written by Mike Bartlett (Doctor Foster), who says, ‘Trauma is a story about two fathers with very different lives, locked in conflict. I hope the series will be moving, terrifying and timely… If we increasingly mistrust institutions and experts, what happens when we desperately need them?’

Anticipation factor ★★★★

MAMMOTH SCREEN FOR ITV NEXT OF KIN on ITV1 Pictured: JACK DAVENPORT as Guy Harcourt and ARCHIE PANJABI as Mona Shirani Episode 1 - The contemporary drama follows whip-smart doctor Mona Shirani ( Archie Panjabi) who lives in London with political lobbyist husband Guy Harcourt (Jack Davenport). Family life is shattered when Mona’s brother is killed whilst working for a medical charity abroad. As the death brings buried secrets to light, Mona’s family finds itself under suspicion, each drawn deep into a tangle of betrayal and conspiracy as they try to protect their loved ones and careers. Mona finds herself facing the ultimate dilemma: how far would you go to keep your family safe? This photograph is (C) iTV 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

Trouble ahead: Jack Davenport as Guy Harcourt and Archie Panjabi as Mona Shirani

Next of Kin, ITV

Archie Panjabi, Jack Davenport

Archie Panjabi (The Good Wife, The Fall), and Jack Davenport (Pirates of the Caribbean, Smash), star in this fast-paced family thriller, starting on Monday 8 January. The contemporary drama follows doctor Mona Harcourt (Panjabi). She lives in London with political lobbyist husband Guy (Davenport). When a bomb goes off in London on the same day her brother, Kareem, is abducted and murdered in Pakistan, Mona’s charmed life is shaken to its core.

Anticipation factor ★★★★

Dark Heart, ITV

Tom Riley

Series 2 of this six-part police drama is set for Spring 2018, with Tom Riley as DI Will Wagstaffe, a man haunted by the murder of his parents. ITV head of drama Polly Hill says: ‘We’re thrilled Tom Riley has agreed to return as Will Wagstaffe in Dark Heart. As the central character, he has immersed himself in police work to seek some form of closure for what has happened in his past. It’s a gritty, emotionally driven thriller from [screenwriter] Chris Lang.’

Anticipation factor ★★★★

Riviera 2, Sky Atlantic

Julia Stiles

Julia Stiles, Lena Olin, Roxane Duran and Dimitri Leonidas will be back for a new run of Sky’s glossy French-set crime drama. Based on an idea by former U2 manager Paul McGuinness, it was mostly style over substance. But it clearly did well enough for Sky to lavish another big budget on a second outing.

Anticipation factor ★★★

Clean Break, ITV

Sheridan Smith

Currently being filmed in and around London, this looks particularly interesting. Sheridan Smith plays Sam, a cleaner at financial stockbrokers in the City, one of an invisible army enduring the suffocating grind of a zero-hours contract. She’s also a mum with a gambling addiction. When she hears of a confidential financial deal, she has a chance to turn her life around – but also veer into a dark and illegal world.

Anticipation factor ★★★★

Liar 2, ITV

Joanne Froggatt, Ioan Gruffudd

2 BROTHERS PICTURES For Itv LIAR EPISODE 1 Pictured: JOANNE FROGGATT as Laura Nielson. Photographer JOSS BARRATT This photograph is (C) iTV 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

Piecing together what happened – Laura in Liar 1

I thought series one was weighed down by implausibilities, but ITV think it was the greatest thing going, so it’s set to return in 2019. The crazy end certainly annoyed a lot of viewers. Be interesting to see how Andrew Earlham (Gruffudd) is resurrected… or perhaps not.

Anticipation factor ★★★

Cheat, ITV

Starts production in 2018, it’s described as ‘an emotionally affecting four-part series’. It’s about a dangerous relationship between a professor, Leah, and her student, Rose. What begins as a seemingly open and shut case of academic deception, spirals out of control…

Anticipation factor ★★★★

Top Boy, Netflix

Ashley Walters, Kane Robinson

Migrating from C4 to Netflix, this gritty drama includes new storylines that see Dushane (Ashley Walters) returning from exile to his home in London to reclaim his throne in the lucrative drug market. He teams up with Sully (Kane Robinson), his partner, and sometime rival, who is also returning after his own form of exile – prison – comes to an end. Awaiting them both is Jamie, the young and ruthless gang leader whose ambitions leave no room for Dushane and Sully.

Anticipation factor ★★★★

Gangs of London (working title), Sky Atlantic

Set for 2019, this London-set drama will be about a capital ‘torn apart by the turbulent power struggles of the international gangs in control’. When the head of a criminal organisation is assassinated, the sudden power vacuum his death creates threatens the peace between the city’s web of gangs.

Anticipation factor ★★★★

Bulletproof, Sky 1

Noel Clarke, Ashley Walters

Clarke and Walters star as cops from differing backgrounds who are also best mates. Aiming for humour, action and emotion, the show centres on the relationships between fathers and sons and is about friendship, conspiracies and ghosts from the past.

Anticipation factor ★★★★

Lucky Man 3, ITV

James Nesbitt, Sienna Guillory

Based on an idea from world-renowned comic book writer Stan Lee, this had the good fortune to win over a million viewers. In this third chapter, DI Harry Clayton is in Hong Kong, looking for answers about his ‘lucky’ charm. He comes up against some nasty underworld characters who have their eyes on more than just his bracelet. Joining James Nesbitt are show favourites Amara Karan, returning as DS Suri Chohan, Sienna Guillory as Eve and Stephen Hagan as Rich Clayton.

Anticipation factor ★★★★

Manhunt, ITV

Martin Clunes

ITV has a strong record of creating sensitive dramas from true events. This one looks like it be engrossing, though the casting of Martin Clunes looks suspect. Written by Ed Whitmore (who wrote the chilling, intriguing Rillington Place), it’s based upon the memoirs of former London detective DCI Colin Sutton, who tracked down serial killer Levi Bellfield. Manhunt is the story of how the murder of French n ational Amelie Delagrange, on Twickenham Green in August 2004, was eventually linked to the murders of Marsha McDonnell in 2003 and the abduction and murder of Milly Dowler as she travelled home from school in 2002.

Anticipation factor ★★★★

Marcella 2, ITV

Anna Friel, Jamie Bamber

Series one divided viewers in 2016. Written once again by Hans Rosenfeldt, who did the brilliant The Bridge, it is unlikely to be cosy or run-of-the-mill. The story begins with the discovery of a body inside a wall. The corpse is surrounded by toys and soft animals and a school blazer. A devastated Marcella soon works out that the body is that of schoolboy Leo Priestley, who was abducted a few years beforehand and a friend of Marcella’s son, Edward. Anna Friel said, ‘I’m thrilled to be reprising the role of Marcella and want to thank ITV for recommissioning this powerful London based noir drama. The reaction from everyone has been amazing.’

Anticipation factor ★★★★

Endeavour 6, ITV

Shaun Evans, Roger Allam

Filming has begun on the fifth series of ITV’s hugely successful detective drama, Endeavour. Six feature-length films of the Inspector Morse prequel series are to be produced for transmission next year, starring Shaun Evans as the recently promoted Detective Sergeant Endeavour Morse.

Anticipation factor ★★★★

 

White Dragon, ITV

This eight-parter was filmed during the autumn on location in Asia. From writers and producers Harry and Jack Williams (The Missing), it follows Professor Jonah Mulray, whose life is turned upside-down when his wife, Megan, is killed in a car-crash in Hong Kong. Casting news to be announced.

Anticipation factor ★★★★

Unforgotten 3, ITV

Nicola Walker, Sanjeev Bhaskar

This has had some terrific press reviews and will be looked forward to by many viewers. Once again, DCI Cassie Stuart and DI Sunil ‘Sunny’ Khan will be unravelling the truth behind historic murders.

Anticipation factor ★★★★

British crime TV favourites

UK crime drama has plenty to offer fans of drama and suspense. Here, in this guest post, is a list of three dramas that have been especially popular with viewers.

Whilst maybe not accorded the historical reverence that the noir form has enjoyed in France, UK crime drama is no less incredibly storied, going all the way back to Dixon of Dock Green and continuing into the present day with fantastic programs like Broadchurch. Here are three classics…

The Bill

It’s a wrap – The Bill’s cast on its last day

A mainstay of British evening scheduling, this drama ran from 1984-2010, based around the Sun Hill police station. There’s a great combination of episode long arcs combined with more long-form storytelling that always kept viewers guessing. One of its strengths was the balance it managed to cut between telling UK crime drama stories whilst developing the character’s private lives. It was also a testing ground for British scriptwriting talent, with pretty much a who’s-who of established UK crime drama writers having penned an episode at one time or another, as pointed out in this review by Real Money Pokies.

[Read more…]

Rellik starring Richard Dormer, Jodi Balfour

Programme Name: Rellik - TX: n/a - Episode: Rellik - Generics (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Gabriel (RICHARD DORMER), Elaine Shepard (JODI BALFOUR) - (C) New Pictures - Photographer: Joss Barratt

Marked man – Markham (Richard Dormer) and Elaine Shepard (Jodi Balfour)

Pay attention! This intriguing hunt for a serial killer is told backwards…

★★★★

BBC1, starts Monday, 11 September, 9pm

IF YOU’RE the kind of person that likes to come in from work, switch on the box and enjoy a cosy drama with a beginning, middle and end, Rellik is not for you. Try Doc Martin – it’s just started a new series on the other side.

Rellik is about DCI Gabriel Markham’s attempt to track down a serial killer. He’s personally invested in the case because the culprit burned his face with acid.

But the most singular aspect to the story is not its disfigured hero, but that it is told in reverse. You, the viewer, are not spoon-fed here – you have to work at this one.

I admit that as I watched I had to keep saying to myself, Hang on, what’s happening again?

Rellik is written by Harry and Jack Williams

So, what’s the point of all this buggering about with the narrative? The pay-off should be that as we delve into the past we should eventually find out who the monstrous killer is and how he got that way.

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 05/09/2017 - Programme Name: Rellik - TX: n/a - Episode: Rellik - Ep 1 (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: *STRICTLY NOT FOR PUBLICATION UNTIL 00:01HRS, TUESDAY 5TH SEPTEMBER, 2017* Gabriel (RICHARD DORMER) - (C) New Pictures - Photographer: Joss Barratt

Shrouded in mystery – Markham on the trail of a serial killer

It’s written by Harry and Jack Williams, who have also written the ITV series Liar (see preview below), which the TV bosses have fiendishly scheduled in the same time slot on the other side. Quite an achievement to have two big news series competing against each other like this.

They were also behind The Missing, the hard-hitting BBC series that was also inventive with its structure. So what are they playing at? Responding to the question with one voice, they say, ‘Playing with story and structure and trying to find new ways to tell stories is something we’re fascinated by, so it started there [working on The Missing].

‘But we didn’t want it to be a technical exercise so we had to ask ourselves why you’d tell a story that way. It became clear quite quickly that it was all about motive. That things happen for a reason and those reasons lie in the past. So, what happens when you start at the end and find your way back to the past sounded like an interesting thing to explore.’

[Read more…]

Liar, starring Joanne Froggatt, Ioan Gruffudd

2 BROTHERS PICTURES For Itv LIAR EPISODE 1 Pictured: JOANNE FROGGATT as Laura Nielson AND IOAN GRUFFUDD as Andrew Earlham. Photographer JOSS BARRATT This photograph is (C) iTV 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

Where does the truth lie? Joanne Froggatt as Laura Nielson and Ioan Gruffudd as Andrew Earlham

What happens when a first date does horrifically wrong for a young woman?

★★★ ITV, starts Monday, 11 September, 9pm

LIAR IS A SHARPLY written psycho-thriller dealing with a delicate theme. It stars Joanne Froggatt and Ioan Gruffudd as a couple tentatively going out on a first date.

He plays Andrew, a surgeon and a single parent, while she is Laura, a teacher just coming out of a long-term relationship. His son is in her class.

There’s an attraction and they meet up for dinner. However, when Laura wakes up later she suspects she has been drugged.

Is Ioan Gruffudd’s character the Liar?

What happened? A devastated Laura tells her account to police, while Andrew insists on his innocence. Both are plausible…

2 BROTHERS PICTURES For Itv LIAR EPISODE 1 Pictured: JOANNE FROGGATT as Laura Nielson. Photographer JOSS BARRATT This photograph is (C) iTV 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

Piecing together what happened – Laura

Date rape is a serious subject and one that the writers, brothers Harry and Jack Williams, have attempted to treat sensitively. At the same time the drama works as a compelling story with strong characters and tension.

Ioan Gruffudd is convincing as the dad who is either a psychopathic-level liar, or a seriously wronged man.

Joanne Froggatt’s superb performance

Joanne Froggatt has the further emotional distance to cover as Laura, upbeat and confident at the start, and a damaged woman before the end of episode one. The former Downton actor shows here why she has become one of ITV’s leading stars.

The Williams brothers are the duo behind the BBC’s powerful drama The Missing. In Liar they again play with the timeframe to throw us back and forwards in the narrative as Laura remembers more of what happened on the fateful night.

A sign of the duo’s rising status in the drama-writing world is that on Monday night BBC1 has scheduled another series by them, Rellik, to go up against Liar.

2 BROTHERS PICTURES For Itv LIAR EPISODE 1 Pictured: DANNY WEBB as DS Rory Maxwell and SHELLEY CONN as DI Vanessa Harmon. Photographer JOSS BARRATT This photograph is (C) iTV 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

Questions – Danny Webb and Shelley Conn as the investigating detectives

The Missing was an unforgettable series. Liar is more intimate but still intriguing. It is difficult to guess which way the story is going to go.

I formed an early suspicion about what would happen and many viewers may come up with other views. It will be interesting to see where the story goes over the entire six episodes.

• UPDATE Having seen the second episode, I’ve knocked a star off Liar‘s rating. It often happens with series that the first episode sets up the story well, which then in the second descends into implausibility. Laura breaking into Andrew’s house, losing her earring, the ex-boyfriend organising the police raid on Andrew’s home, Laura continuing to teach Andrew’s son – it’s way too contrived and unbelievable. 

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.

%d bloggers like this: