The Watchman with Stephen Graham

Channel 4's The Watchman

All eyes – Stephen Graham is Carl, the Watchman

A nail-biting evening spent in the lonely company of Stephen Graham’s CCTV operator

★★★½ C4, Wednesday, 24 August, 9pm

THIS IS A modern take on the 1954 Hitchcock classic Rear Window. Here, however, CCTV is our protagonist’s window on the world.

Carl’s a decent bloke, strong moral outlook, feeling fine about another all-night shift on his own manning the neighbourhood CCTV network.

Ironically, actor Stephen Graham virtually puts in a solo shift as Carl, so few scenes does he share with anyone else.

Stephen Graham The Watchman

All eyes – Carl at work

Writer Dave Nath

Seen recently in The Secret Agent, here Graham plays a more vulnerable character. Carl has a complicated home life, trying over the phone to placate his 16-year-old daughter in her strop with mum, while keeping an eye on a gang of young thugs on the local estate.

He also feels rather impotent in his role as guardian, repeatedly getting the brush-off from the police dispatcher when he tries to get officers to intervene as drugs are being dealt. Not enough manpower he’s told, by the dispatcher who clearly is contemptuous of him.

Writer/director Dave Nath found in his research that this is a common occurrence for CCTV operators. He visited CCTV nerve centres and says, ‘I visited one in particular, to look at the layout and how they worked. I started telling them about some of the storylines in the film. That sense of calling the police about stuff, and the police not being able to respond, was a daily occurrence. Also, the sense that shifts are increasingly one-man shifts. I find that worrying, placing one person in that position. It means your placing a hell of a lot of responsibility on that one person.’ [Read more…]

One of Us, BBC thriller

Programme Name: One of Us - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 1) - Picture Shows: Claire Elliot (JOANNA VANDERHAM), Moira Douglas (JULIE GRAHAM), Louise Elliot (JULIET STEVENSON), Bill Douglas (JOHN LYNCH), Rob Elliot (JOE DEMPSIE), Jamie Douglas (CRISTIAN ORTEGA), Anna (GEORGINA CAMPBELL), Alastair (GARY LEWIS) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Phil Fisk

Barnstorming – Claire (Joanna Vanderham), Moira (Julie Graham), Louise (Juliet Stevenson), Bill (John Lynch), Rob (Joe Dempsie), Jamie (Cristian Ortega), Anna (Georgina Campbell), Alastair (Gary Lewis)

Secrets spill out when a murderer turns up on the doorstep of his victims’ families

★★★½ BBC1, Tuesday, 23 August, 9pm

FANS OF THE NETFLIX series Bloodline, about the corrupt and dysfunctional Rayburn family, will recognise One of Us as a blood relation.

Programme Name: One of Us - TX: 23/08/2016 - Episode: n/a (No. 1) - Picture Shows: Grace Douglas (KATE BRACKEN), Adam Elliot (JEREMY NEUMARK JONES)) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Hal Shinne

Victims – Grace Douglas (Kate Bracken) and Adam Elliot (Jeremy Neumark Jones)

This BBC production is another thriller ruled by family secrets and animosities. Here the catalyst for opening the can of emotional worms is a shocking double murder.

Through charming family home movies we see that Adam Elliot and Grace Douglas grew from toddler pals to childhood sweethearts and wedded couple. We’re wrenched into the present when the newlyweds are murdered at their flat in Edinburgh.

Killer on their doorstep

Where Bloodline has wayward brother Danny returning home to upset everybody, in One of Us the premise is more bizarre – and chilling. Adam and Grace’s apparent killer, a knife-wielding drug addict, steals a car and heads to the Scottish Highland village of Braeston, where Adam and Grace’s families live.

The stranger is knocked out as he crashes his Lexus during a terrible storm. When the Douglases and Elliots realise who he is – and that he’s wanted by police – they put him, injured and unconscious, in a barn.

 But what should they do with him? Turn him over to the cops, or let him die?

Joanna Vanderham, Ade Edmondson, Juliet Stevenson

One of Us - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 1) - Picture Shows: Claire Elliot (JOANNA VANDERHAM) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Photography Phil Fisk, Design work Matt Burlem

Lone voice – Claire (Joanna Vanderham)

One of Us has a terrific cast and the remote setting is beautiful but haunting. Joanna Vanderham plays the Elliots’ adult daughter who is against taking the law into their own hands. Joe Dempsie is her far more morally compromised brother, Rob.

Juliet Stevenson is an emotional powerhouse as the mother, Louise. She’s on the edge of a breakdown with grief, but is not against some retribution.

Meanwhile, John Lynch and Julie Graham play the uptight Douglases, who are pretty down on their loner son, Jamie.

And at a distance there is Adrian Edmondson as Louise’s ex-husband, who walked out on the family. [Read more…]

5 Upcoming Crime Shows to Get Excited About

From Warner Bros Lethal Weapon on ITV Pictured: Roger Murtaugh [Damon Wayans] and Martin Riggs [Clayne Crawford]. This photograph is (C) Warner Bros and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above, or ITV plc. 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

Lethal Weapon: Roger Murtaugh (Damon Wayans) and Martin Riggs [Clayne Crawford)

Between the autumn television slate and some promising titles around the corner in 2017, there’s a lot to be excited about for fans of crime and mystery television. Some of these shows are brand new and others are merely moving on to new seasons, but in considering both categories, here are five programmes that are already looking like a whole lot of fun. 

Lethal Weapon (Fox)

Lethal Weapon has to be one of the more exciting new crime shows in at least a few years. Announced earlier this year, it’s set to debut this autumn for American audiences on Fox and on ITV in Britain and will presumably be available for streaming soon thereafter. The show us based on the 1987 film of the same name, which has an iconic place among American crime thrillers. That film, starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, ultimately spawned three sequels, each as exciting as the last. It also led to a 1992 NES video game, which you can actually still obtain from Game Fabrique, a site featuring several old titles available for download. That the game is still around is a testament to the fact that even the distinctly ’80s and ’90s feeling of these films hasn’t made them any less popular with action and crime fans. 

The new show looks to be a fairly straightforward reboot. Clayne Crawford (24, Rogue) has been cast as Martin Riggs (Gibson’s character), with Damon Wayans (Major Payne, My Wife and Kids) playing Roger Murtaugh (Glover’s role). It ought to be a standard buddy-cop action show with elements of drama and comedy, and the key will be for Crawford and Wayans to develop something that at least remotely resembles the chemistry of Gibson and Glover. Interestingly enough, Glover said he’s skeptical of the project, or at least that he’d prefer people still remember his four films fondly. But the name Lethal Weapon still carries a great deal of weight, which should make this show one of the more watched debuts of the coming season. 

MacGyver (CBS)

In another move to reboot an American crime classic, albeit one that’s generally taken with a grain of salt, MacGyver will also return to television screens in the near future. Set to debut in late September, this show concerns a secret agent who uses scientific knowledge and off-the-charts resourcefulness to get out of sticky situations and, in all likelihood, save the world. If you’re not as familiar with the original series, which ran from 1985 to 1992 and starred Richard Dean Anderson in the titular role, you may well have come across the parody: Saturday Night Live and Will Forte’s “MacGruber. In this skit that ultimately became a film, the hero would frequently fall short of saving the world due to comical miscues. 

The new drama will presumably be a little bit grittier, though as stated MacGyver isn’t necessarily meant to be taken seriously. Lucas Till (X-Men: Apocalypse) will star as a young Angus MacGyver, who essentially creates his own organisation within the United States government to fight crime with his own bizarre blend of skills. 

Sherlock (BBC One)

What Sherlock has done for Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective series is remarkable. Released just months after the blockbuster film Sherlock Holmes and before Elementary in the US, it managed to become most people’s picture of the definitive modern Holmes. It also brought popularity back to the character and concept. One can argue that Elementary sprouted from this show, and we’ve also seen a greater prevalence of Holmes material, such as video games, since the 2010 debut. Frogwares has a well-known console series going, but the characters from these stories have also popped up in high-volume online gaming arenas. The choices for slot machine games at Betfair include numerous connections to pop culture and fiction, and a delightful Sherlock Holmes title is now among them. The game uses character images, detective equipment, and the setting of 221B Baker Street to make for a more interesting casino experience, with reel spins turning up all kinds of elements related to the stories.

Despite all this influence, Sherlock is actually a pretty abbreviated show. Presented in a way that each series consists of only a handful of (long) episodes, it plays out almost like a collection of short films. There have only been three series to date, as well as one Christmas mini-episode and a 2016 special that existed outside of the timeline of the regular show. And for that reason, fans simply can’t wait for more material. Series four will debut in 2017, with more wonderful action expected from Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. 

[Read more…]

Paranoid, trailer for ITV’s new thriller

Paranoid is coming to ITV this autumn.

It’s the story of a female GP who is murdered in a children’s playground with an abundance of eyewitnesses. Detectives embark on what seems to be a straightforward investigation. But as they delve into the case they are drawn into the twists of a mystery, taking them unexpectedly across Europe.

Cast includes Indira Varma, Robert Glenister, Lesley Sharp, Dino Fetscher, Neil Stuke, Polly Walker and John Duttine.

Sherlock 4 trailer

Looks like Jim Moriarty will be back on the scene when BBC1’s Sherlock returns in 2017. Here’s the new trailer featuring Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and, briefly, Andrew Scott. Toby Jones is also on view as another foe for Sherlock. Few laughs here, it all looks very serious…

The Secret Agent, BBC1

Programme Name: The Secret Agent - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 1) - Picture Shows: Verloc (Toby Jones), Vladimir (David Dawson) - (C) World Productions LTD - Photographer: Mark Mainz

Twisted loyalties – Verloc (Toby Jones) and Vladimir (David Dawson)

Claustrophobic adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s heartbreaking spy saga

★★★ BBC1, Sunday, 17 July, 9pm

COSTUME DRAMAS are two a penny on British TV, but occasionally one comes along that really has a feel for period, rather than being a piece of fancy-dress nostalgia. This is one of the better ones.

It is, of course, based on Joseph Conrad’s classic spy novel, which Alfred Hitchcock also turned into a modern-day suspense flick.

For this three-parter, the BBC has lined up a fine cast and returned events to era of the novel – London, 1886.

Toby Jones as Verloc

Programme Name: The Secret Agent - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 1) - Picture Shows: Winnie (Vicky McClure), Stevie (Charlie Hamblett) - (C) World Productions LTD - Photographer: Graeme Hunter

Family – Winnie (Vicky McClure), Stevie (Charlie Hamblett)

Taking the lead is Toby Jones as the horrible Verloc, owner of a seedy Soho smut shop. He is married to Winnie, played by Vicky McClure. Verloc is a second-rate agent-provocateur on behalf of the Russian government. When he is summoned to meet the new First Secretary, his cushy number is over.

Played with a mixture of evil and charm by David Dawson, Vladimir demands more of Verloc. He blackmails him into organising a bomb outrage that will be blamed on the anarchists Verloc is spying on.

Victorian London is evocatively recreated and filmed (without cloying chocolate-box tweeness), and the performers are extremely good. But it is the dynamics between the characters and the claustrophobia of unfolding events that makes the drama so gripping. [Read more…]

Prime Suspect — Killer TV No 5

Prime_Suspect_TV_Series-474100502-largeITV, 1991-2006 (seven series)

‘Don’t call me ma’am – I’m not the bloody Queen.’ – Jane Tennison

Helen Mirren (DCI Jane Tennison), Tom Bell (DS Tom Otley), Tom Wilkinson (Peter Rawlins), Mark Strong (Larry Hall), Ciaran Hinds (Edward Parker-Jones), Jonny Lee Miller (Anthony Field), Peter Capaldi (Vera Reynolds), Robert Glenister (Chris Hughes)

Identikit: DCI Jane Tennison gets her chance to lead a major murder inquiry, but has to battle her sexist male team members, who want her replaced.


Writer Lynda La Plante took the boring old police procedural and turned it into something challenging and ultimately moving. Helen Mirren had a career-defining role as Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison, fighting to do a good job in the face of fierce male hostility (at a time when female DCIs in London’s Metropolitan Police were rare). Series one, in which officers on her squad tried to get her replaced while she chased a rapist-murderer, was the best, but while the standard occasionally dipped in some of the subsequent seasons, the subplots of Tennison’s struggle for personal happiness, the termination of her pregnancy and her battle with alcoholism gave the character-driven drama greater impact than just about every other cop show of the time. Certainly by series 7, The Final Act, with Tennison confronting the death of her father (Frank Finlay) and receiving a heartrending apology from Sgt Otley (Tom Bell), who’d tried so hard to undermine her early on, Prime Suspect packed an emotional punch few drama serials ever match. The end, with Tennison alone with her drink problem, avoiding her own retirement party, was controversial. Some reviewers felt that the male scriptwriters wanted to punish the female protagonist for being successful. But hasn’t Tennison come through on her own terms? She was not a desk detective feathering her own career, but a dedicated case solver who successfully closed her final investigation, into the murder of a teenage girl. But she is not unscathed, having paid a similar personal price as Otley, both having sacrificed their personal lives and stared into the abyss of human degradation. The ending is sombre, but as Tennison leaves the office she has poise and even a faint smile. She did it her way, and a new phase of life without office politics, child killers and rapists awaits. Prime Suspect did for the British crime genre what Nordic noir is now doing for Scandinavia by shining a light on the underside of society, with stories tackling sexism, racism, paedophilia and prostitution. It won a shed-load of Baftas, Emmys and Golden Globes, and dwarfs all the whodunits and forensic shows that clog today’s TV schedules.

Spin offs: Steer clear of the limp 2011 US reboot with Maria Bello. La Plante’s most recent series, Above Suspicion, also has nothing like the resonance of Prime Suspect. News that the author is writing a Prime Suspect prequel has cheered many fans – soon to be seen on ITV in the UK – but it will have to be distinctive and powerful to match Mirren’s series.

Classic episode: The whole of series three. Make no mistake, it’s strong stuff, but this season (Lynda La Plante’s last as writer) reveals a lot about Tennison (she rejects the man who loves her, later having an abortion). It’s also a dark story about child abuse, with powerful performances from David Thewlis and Peter Capaldi, along with the regular cast.

Music: The music for the first five series was done by Oscar-winning composer Stephen Warbeck.

Watercooler fact: Writer Lynda La Plante wanted to know how many female DCIs were in the London Metropolitan Police. On calling Scotland Yard she was told, ‘Oh, quite a number – four.’ She based Tennison on the one she interviewed, Jackie Malton.

Fortitude 2 trailer

Here’s a taste of chills to come next January with the second series of Sky Atlantic’s Fortitude, starring Dennis Quaid (Far from Heaven) and Sofie Gråbøl (The Killing). Set to the music of Björk’s It’s Oh So Quiet, it shows a calm and collected Michael Lennox (Quaid) motionless in a frosted car and later, an anxious Governor Odegard (Gråbøl) standing alone in a snow-covered Fortitude poised with a flickering flashlight. Which new threats face the residents of the isolated Arctic town…?

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