LOVE/HATE - HUGHIE (Brian Gleeson), DARREN (Robbie Sheehan), John Boy (Aidan Gillen) IMAGE PROVIDED BY CHANNEL 5
Brian Gleeson, Robbie Sheehan and Aidan Gillen

Rating: ★★★★ C5: 10pm, starts Wednesday, 24 July

Story: Criminal Darren Treacy risks a return to Dublin for a weekend to celebrate his brother’s release from prison, having fled to Spain after a gun was found at his house. However, a tragic event forces him to stay longer than planned…

LOVE/HATE - Rosie (Ruth Negga) with Darren (Robert Sheehan)
Ruth Negga and Robbie Sheehan

CHANNEL 5, home of bland US series such as CIS and NCIS, has slipped a couple of interesting Irish crime dramas into the schedules recently. They had The Guards with Iain Glen a little while ago, and tonight it’s the excellent Love/Hate.

There have been four series of the drama and it has been a hit in Ireland since 2010 – strange that it’s taken so long to cross the water. It’s a streetwise gangster story that bears little relation to the police procedurals that get made so often in the UK, with Robert Sheehan, of Misfits, as Darren, a thug who risks a return from Spain to attend the celebrations for his brother’s release from jail.

Shootings and illicit liaisons

The visit goes haywire when his brother, Robbie, is murdered in what appears to be a gang hit. Darren
wants revenge and is pulled into the orbit of drug boss John Boy Power, played the Aidan Gillen, who seems to be contracted to appear in every other drama made in Ireland, the US and the UK.

Darren is also playing with danger in reigniting a romance with Rosie, who now has a secret in the form of a new man.

Scripted by Irish playwright Stuart Carolan, this is a tense, punchy drama, illuminating the dark side of recession-hit modern Ireland. It is full of jeopardy for the characters in what is literally a cut-throat culture, and it made me think of The Long Good Friday in the way it rooted a mob feud in a distinctive period.

Aidan Gillen as gang boss John Boy

Brian Gleeson and Ruth Negga

Aidan Gillen is slickly menacing, and Brian Gleeson is scary as the out-of-control Hughie Power. But in addition to the rough stuff, the female characters are convincing and strong, from Ruth Negga’s Rosie to Ruth Bradley as Mary, Robbie’s sister, who is having a secret liaison with family friend Tommy.

It is Tommy who is bedding Mary when he should be chauffeuring Robbie. Instead, Robbie is gunned down and events turn nasty indeed.

Cast: Robert Sheehan Darren Treacy, Aidan Gillen John Boy Power, Ruth Negga Rosie, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor Nidge, Ruth Bradley Mary Treacy, Brian Gleeson Hughie Power, Lawrence Kinlan Elmo, Aoibhinn McGinnity Trish, Killian Scott Tommy, Peter Campion Stephen `Stumpy’ Doyle, Peter Gowan Pat, Charlie Murphy Siobhan, Chris Newman Robbie Treacy

Follow @crimetimeprev

Mayday, BBC1, starring Sophie Okonedo, Peter Firth, Aidan Gillen PREVIEW

If you go down to the woods… the May Queen’s disappearance exposes a community’s secrets. Pics: BBC

Rating: ★★★½

BBC1: Sunday, 3 March, 9pm

Story: When a young teenage May Queen fails to appear at the annual pagan parade, her small community is thrown into turmoil and recriminations.

In The Wicker Man, that great pagan-horror classic from 1973, a missing girl is the trigger for the story. BBC1’s Mayday conjures a similar spirit of something ancient and sinister in the countryside, and it too begins with the disappearance of a girl, a 14-year-old May Queen.

The Mayday festival in a small community on the Sussex Downs is disrupted when the parade arrives on the green, but young Hattie is not at the procession’s head. Hours later the teen is still missing and the locals organise a night-time search of the woods.

Mayday, BBC1, Aidan Gillen
Everett is not concerned when Hattie goes missing

Sophie Okonedo and Aidan Gillen
Everyone either knew Hattie or knew of her, and her mystery unsettles the whole town. A wife suspects her husband, a son wonders if his father was involved, a man thinks his loner brother is responsible.

Aidan Gillen plays a violent father who forbids his curious son from looking to see what he keeps in a bin bag, Peter Firth is the property developer whose new scheme Hattie had recently been protesting against. Meanwhile, Sophie Okonedo is the mum and former police officer whose cop husband is acting oddly.

Mayday, BBC1, Tom Fisher
Was Seth behind Hattie’s disappearance?

No sooner is Hattie gone than the whole place is revealed to be a seething mass of unhappy marriages, un-neighbourly hostility and family secrets. This is all overdone a bit, but the opening episode does create an intriguing atmosphere of unease.

The Magic Circle
Steve, played by Sam Spruell, is leading the nocturnal search through the forest, when one local reveals that when he was a boy he thought there was a presence following him when he went there. Hattie’s twin sister, Caitlin, tells young Linus (her secret admirer) that she thinks Hattie’s dead because, ‘I felt her leave me.’

The search party finds the forest’s ‘Magic Circle’, a place where some gathering or ritual happens – or is it just teenagers messing around? – and the May Queen’s crown is found there. This jolts Steve into fearing that his brother, Seth, who is dressed as the Green Man for Mayday and lives in the woods, may have done something to Hattie.

Mayday, BBC1, with Leila Mimmack as Caitlin
Hattie’s twin sister, Caitlin

The writers are Caroline Ip and Ben Court, the pens behind the resurrectionist and haunting Whitechapel on ITV, so it is no surprise that Mayday is no straight police procedural. It will be interesting to see how much weirder events become.

Two community thrillers
The BBC and ITV have contrived to schedule two new prestigious drama series about crimes impacting on small communities in the same week – Mayday and Broadchurch. Both were pencilled in for Monday, 4 March, but happily Mayday was finally scheduled for Sunday.

Mayday, BBC1, with Peter Firth
Malcolm has secrets in the woods

Both are good, though on the basis of the opening episodes, Broadchurch is more layered and hard-hitting emotionally. But Mayday could still come up trumps if it maintains its distinctive and unsettling journey deep into the woods. Quirky and dark it certainly is.

Cast: Sophie Okonedo Fiona Hill, Peter McDonald Alan Hill, Lesley Manville Gail Spicer, Peter Firth Malcolm Spicer, Sam Spruell Steve Docker, Tom Fisher Seth Docker, Max Fowler Linus Newcombe, Aidan Gillen Everett Newcombe, Leila Mimmack Caitlin/Hattie Sutton, David Flynn James Spicer, Hannah Jean-Baptiste Charlotte, Richard Hawley Richard Sutton, Caroline Berry Jo Sutton

Follow @crimetimeprev

First glimpse of Sleepyhead and Scaredy Cat

Sky1’s all-star dramatisation of DI Thorne, featuring the first two stories from Mark Billingham’s hit series of novels, are now scheduled for October. I hope to be reviewing them in the first week of next month, but in the meantime here is a glimpse of scenes from the opening three-part Thorne films.

Thorne: Sleepyhead
Stars: David Morrissey (State of Play, Red Riding, Doctor Who) as Tom Thorne; Natascha McElhone (Californication, The Truman Show); Eddie Marsan (Sherlock Holmes, Little Dorrit); and Aidan Gillen (The Wire, Identity)

Thorne investigates a sadistic serial killer, whose fourth victim, Alison, survives – unluckily for her. The killer has induced ‘locked-in syndrome’ in her, a state in which she is conscious but unable to move or communicate. Thorne soon realises this was the goal in all the killer’s attacks, not to kill but to paralyse. During the investigation, he also revisits a terrifying personal secret from 15 previously.
Director Benjamin Ross (Poppy Shakespeare, RKO 281) says, ‘I wanted to shoot an epic version of London. We shot a morning chase across the roofs of Shoreditch and a murder sequence at the Thames Barrier. It’s a very gritty landscape of London that you don’t even see in movies.’

Thorne: Scaredy Cat
Stars: David Morrissey; Sandra Oh (Grey’s Anatomy, Sideways)

Two women are murdered near St Pancras Station. Thorne discovers he’s chasing not one, but two serial killers.

Loss of Identity

Aidan Gillen, Keeley Hawes and the stylish Identity Unit (© ITV)

I think I’ll join the police.

Look at how buff the detectives are in Identity, and how cool the offices are that they swan about in. Nice views, sleek decor, no clutter.

And I’m sure I could handle being reprimanded by Keeley Hawes. Every day, if necessary.

It’s a long way from my days as a crime reporter on the Hackney Gazette. The local nick at Stoke Newington was a cramped Victorian building, tiny windows, smelly and full of beefy blokes whose bellies stretched their shirt buttons.

All right, I realise that these days reality is out (except on reality shows) and programme makers exaggerate the glamorous side of coppering. But I was pretty impressed with Identity when it started. A fresh crime show devoid of the usual serial killers and paedophile twists, it was inspired by real and dark incidents of identity fraud. The swanky office and beautiful police were minor distractions.

But Identity reaches the end of its first series this week and sadly it’s got a fair bit more daft. Loose cannon DI Bloom – played with verve by Aidan Gillen and easily the show’s star – was always pushing the envelope with his habit of stabbing suspects and breaking and entering as he felt like it.

But keeping a corpse in his fridge? Come on.

Writer Ed Whitmore created a series that looked very promising, having researched real-life identity crimes and created episodes in which people have stolen identities, reinvented themselves as someone they’ve murdered or exacted revenge through credit fraud and ingenious frame-ups. Very contemporary, very disturbing.

However, as regular viewers know, overshadowing all this has been Bloom’s slightly deranged attempt to work for DSI Martha Lawson (Keeley Hawes) on the Identity Unit while secretly freelancing in his old job as an undercover cop who has infiltrated a drugs gang. Hence, the stiff in the icebox.

In the finale, things really get untidy for Mr Dual Identity. His office enemy, Anthony (Shaun Parkes), knows what has displaced the milk and veg from Bloom’s fridge. 

It all gets a bit implausible. Will Bloom keep his job? Will he save his gangster moll lover? Will he forget whether he’s a crook or a cop (he has looked doubtful at times)?

I won’t spoil it, but I do hope that if the series returns it calms down a bit and gets over its identity crisis.

Monday 9 August, 9pm, ITV1

%d bloggers like this: