Prime Suspect US version – preview

Here’s a glimpse of the new US version of Lynda La Plante’s Prime Suspect, with Maria Bello in the role made famous by Helen Mirren…


Endeavour – Morse prequel coming to ITV

Shaun Evans as Endeavour Morse. Pics: ITV

ITV is filming a one-off Inspector Morse prequel called Endeavour, starring Shaun Evans as the character made famous by John Thaw.

It is being shot in Oxford this year and will be shown in 2012. Evans, who has appeared in The Take and Come Rain Come Shine, will play author Colin Dexter’s police detective as a younger man, giving lovers of the original series fresh insight into the ale- and opera-loving sleuth’s past.

The original – John Thaw

Set in 1965, the story will follow the hunt for a missing schoolgirl which draws Endeavour Morse to the place that will shape his career – Oxford. Here the young detective finds himself sidelined and discredited during the investigation, and begins his own quest for justice.

Evans says, ‘Morse as a young man is a wonderful character that I’m very excited to be playing. My hope is that we can compliment what’s come before, by telling a great story, and telling it well.’

Endeavour will mark the 25th anniversary of the very first episode of Inspector Morse, which transmitted in 1987. Thirty- three Inspector Morse films were made over the next 13 years. The sequel, Lewis, is currently a hit series on ITV and popular abroad.

A CrimeTimePreview update of new series being made is coming soon…

Single-Handed creator Barry Simner’s dark Irish stories

Owen McDonnell as Sgt Jack Driscoll. Pic: ITV
The opening two-part story of ITV1’s Single-Handed concludes tomorrow night (Thursday, 21 July, 9pm). This is really a superior crime drama, with a heart-rending performance from Stephen Rea.

‘Stephen Rea is magnificent,’ says Single-Handed‘s creator Barry Simner. ‘I wrote the bloody thing but his performance makes me weep. I was very pleased that he agreed to do it because he is quite fussy about scripts. But he did say to me that he thought this was a story that needed to be told. He’s an extraordinary actor.’

My full interview with Barry is on the Huffington Post, in which he talks about Single-Handed, why he writes dark, uncomfortable dramas, and why US television crime series are better than Britain’s. 

The Killing was a killer show

Sarah Lund (Sofie Gråbøl). Pic: BBC

Since posting about Why The Killing Is the Best Thing on TV, crimetimepreview has been inundated with comments and thousands of hits from the growing army of fans for this superb Danish thriller.

Around 80 people so far have commented on that post, from a Doctor Who scriptwriter to viewers who cancelled their eagle-spotting holiday in Scotland to avoid missing BBC4’s Saturday night double-bill. Posts compared the 20-parter to The Wire, Prime Suspect, and, further back, to largely forgotten classics such as Out, starring Tom Bell, and The Sandbaggers, with Roy Marsden. Some said it was without equal.

What comes through strongly in the comments is that many viewers are bored with the unambitious dramas churned out by the Beeb and ITV so often these days.

‘To think I used to watch Casualty on Saturday night…’ was one comment, while another said, ‘I wish we could see this kind of quality produced in the UK.’

Vagn was the man and Troels sold out
Rather than costume cops (Inspector George Gently and Marple etc) and extending Midsomer and Morse into eternity, perhaps now is the time for the big guns of ITV, BBC, C4 and BSkyB to raise their game (though BSkyB’s soon-to-be seen Martina Cole drama, The Take, is spunkier than most terrestrial shows around right now). After all, the brilliance of The Killing is nothing to do with big budgets or armies of American scriptwriters – it’s about cliche-free storytelling and sharply drawn characters.

As for the finale – my personal theory that Rie and Brix were involved in some cover-up was revealed to be total poppycock. Vagn (Nicolaj Kopernikus) was the man, and Troels (Lars Mikkelsen), who melted many female hearts, was shown to be a typical politician in the end – two-faced and unburdened by integrity, selling out Rie and his principles just as his arch-rival Bremer predicted.

While there was no explanation for Vagn’s sexual abuse of Nanna, this aspect of his revolting crime still made sense. He had creepily immersed himself into the Birk Larsen family (Jan Meyer was right about him!) and he was clearly bent on destroying what he seemed to love but couldn’t have.

Sarah Lund pays the price
And such a bittersweet end for Sarah Lund. A brilliant moment when she realised what ‘Sara 84’ – Meyer’s deathbed utterance – meant. But what a price to pay to being proved correct – family and lovelife wrecked, work partner murdered… And what a total tragedy for the innocent Birk Larsens.

Quibbles? Well, what was that business with the sabotaged lighting outside Sarah’s apartment? Had there been someone watching her? And it was a bit of a stretch, surely, for Vagn to get out to the ship, murder Frevert and not be spotted by anyone onboard. Had Frevert known all along about Vagn’s crime? More importantly, can someone explain to me how Vagn ended up at the party’s apartment with Nanna, before taking her to Theis’s new house to kill her? I might have to watch it all again.

Livvagterne, anyone?

One viewer posted a comment saying that The Killing was not the only excellent Danish thriller around. He hoped LivvagterneThe Bodyguards would also get a showing here.

So, perhaps while the BBC or ITV starts to commission its own original and gripping new crime series, it could check out purchasing Livvagterne.

In the meantime, Spiral will be back on BBC4 before The Killing II returns in the autumn. The trailer for that looked pretty good, too.

Why The Killing is the best thing on television – 10 reasons

Sarah Lund (Sofie Gråbøl), non-confrontational but very strong. Pics: BBC


The Killing is tucked away on BBC4 (Saturdays 9pm), but don’t underestimate this Danish cult hit – it’s the best series currently on TV.

1 Sarah Lund
Actress Sofie Gråbøl as Sarah Lund (above), a deputy superintendent with Copenhagen police, has become something of an icon across Europe – and it’s not just because of her jumper, which is now a fashion must-have. She is the antithesis of most female cops on TV – no suit, no ball-busting bust-ups with male colleagues, and she’s not a dolly or glam in the mould of Anna Travis (Above Suspicion) or Marg Helgenberger (CSI). She is low-key and shrewd, and while non-confrontational she remains a very strong personality. When her colleague, the un-subtle Meyer (Søren Malling), says to her, ‘You owe me an explanation,’ she just walks away. So, that will be a no then, Meyer. The camera often simply focuses on her eyes, and we sense her mind moving way ahead of her colleagues’.

2 Better than most Brit/US shows
For depth of character and storytelling honesty, The Killing is up there with the best US shows, such as The Wire and The Sopranos. When it comes to the procedural stuff – CSI, Law & Order, Silent Witness – or the pretty postcard mysteries made in the UK – Marple, Midsomer Murders, Inspector George Gently – oh, please, let’s draw a veil over such non-comparisons.

3 Good whodunnit
Liable to spark lengthy debates on the front-room sofa – was Nanna’s killer a psychopath, her teacher, boyfriend, or part of a political conspiracy? When the series was originally shown in Denmark in 2007, large bets were placed on the perpetrator’s identity.

4 Better than a whodunnit
But it’s so much more than a whodunnit. The power of the series is the brilliantly drawn, complex characters, who can make bad choices or lie but never lose our empathy.

5 Focus on relationships

The ever-watchful Sarah Lund

Most crime dramas lack any emotional pull because the victim is treated indifferently, as a device to kick-off the plot. How often do such shows start with grumpy detectives turning up a murder scene, where the victim is showcased in all their gore, and then virtually forgotten. In The Killing the murder of student Nanna Birk Larsen reverberates through the whole series, it’s impact on her family being portrayed with respect and painful honesty. And the relationships shift – Lund and Meyer, with all the pace of a glacial thaw, gradually form an unlikely partnership.

6 No ludicrous plot shifts
No, it’s not likely that Lund’s colleague Meyer will turn out to be a bent cop turned nutty killer who frames her, or that Lund will form an alliance with a serial killer (why does the BBC’s Luther come to mind here?).

7 Multi-strand storylines brilliantly juggled 
Where most British series focus solely on the investigation and the cops, The Killing superbly interweaves Lund’s tangled relationship with her mother, son and lover, a political election and all its dirty tricks, police department power games, and the ongoing, heartbreaking trauma for Nanna’s family.

8 Atmospheric
Forest, rainy nights and sombre interiors.

9 Beautifully paced 
We’ve all seen those series that are desperate to stop us turning over, with three murders and/or several dismembered corpses before the first ad break. The Killing savours every scene, devoting one episode to each day of the 20-day investigation.

Bjarne Henriksen as Theis

10 Tremendous performances
If any actor can convey more anguish with the blink of an eye than Bjarne Henriksen as Nanna’s rough-diamond dad, Theis, then please fill out the comment box below. Theis and his wife, Pernille (Ann Eleonora Jørgensen), are the soul of the series. Lars Mikkelsen as the mayoral candidate under suspicion, Troels Hartmann, is moving. Any actor who can make us feel for a politician has to be a marvel.

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