Vera ITV, with Brenda Blethyn, David Leon PREVIEW

VERA IV EPISODE 1 - On Harbour Street  Picture shows: DAVID LEON as DS Joe Ashworth and BRENDA BLETHYN as DCI Vera Stanhope.
Joe (David Leon) and Vera (Brenda Blethyn). Pics: ITV

Rating: ★★★½

ITV: starts Sunday, 27 April, 8pm

Story: Vera investigates the mysterious death of pensioner Margaret Kraszewski on a busy Newcastle Metro train at the height of rush hour.

DCI VERA STANHOPE is back, news that will cheer a growing battalion of fans for the Geordie detective.

This is the fourth series for the character based on Ann Cleeves’ novels and played by award-winning Brenda Blethyn. The show is something of a banker for ITV, with series three winning a consolidated audience of 6.5 million last year.

Why is it so popular? Well, a good setting always seems to win viewers and Vera has the spectacular backdrop of Northumberland going for it. Brenda Blethyn is hugely popular and her irascible, dumpy character – looking a bit like Paddington Bear – who clearly appeals to a lot of viewers.

And for the younger demographic, of course, there is David Leon as sidekick DS Joe Ashworth.

Murder on the Metro

There are four two-hour films coming and as is the norm for these big ITV series, the producers have lined up a good rota of guest actors, including Paul Copley (Last Tango in Halifax, Downton Abbey), Tilly Vosburgh (Holby City, Holding On), Kellie Bright (EastEnders), Clive Russell (Ripper Street, Game of Thrones), William Ash (Great Night Out, Waterloo Road) and Robert Glenister (Hustle, The Great Train Robbery).

VERA IV EPISODE 1 - On Harbour Street  Picture shows: DAVID LEON as DS Joe Ashworth and SONYA CASSIDY as Celine Ashworth.
Joe and wife Celine (Sonya Cassidy)

The opener, On Harbour Street, gets the season off to a good start, too. A pensioner, Margaret
Kraszewski, is found dead with a stab wound on the rush-hour Newcastle Metro. Joe and his daughter Jessie happen to be on the train, and Jessie has the anguish of discovering the body.

The victim lived in a small seaside community (more lovely scenery) that holds a secret, and an interesting aspect to the story is the impact the case has on Joe’s personal life, as Jessie becomes the case’s principal witness and tensions in his marriage to Celine surface.

New pathologist Marcus Summer

All of which is alien territory to loner Vera, who seems out of touch and unsympathetic with the problems Joe is facing.

VERA IV EPISODE 1 - On Harbour Street  Picture shows: KINGSLEY BEN-ADIR as Marcus Summer.
Pathologist Marcus (Kingsley Ben-Adir)

Devotees will no doubt enjoy this latest series, which, apart from the addition of a new young

pathologist, Marcus Summer (TV newcomer Kingsley Ben-Adir), sticks closely to the whodunit/procedural format.

Vera is polished and well crafted, but these ITV series, although popular, are surely beginning to feel a bit dated. The likes of Lewis and DCI Banks all seem a bit shallow these days in the light of more character-driven successes – The Killing, Broadchurch, Line of Duty and Scott & Bailey.

The dated procedural template, complete with scenic backdrops, is easy viewing but reduces interesting protagonists from successful book series into cops on a loop. In every episode Banks, Lewis and Vera do the same thing. They turn up at the crime scene, ask questions, throw a tantrum, solve the crime. They never change or develop.

TV waters down Vera

Rebus was another terrific character, from Ian Rankin’s series of superb novels, who was reduced to a whodunit-solving cliche on TV. And while Ann Cleeves’ is rightly enjoying a lot of success with Vera and Shetland over on the Beeb, her creations are far more fascinating and affecting on the page.

VERA IV EPISODE 1 - On Harbour Street  Picture shows: BRENDA BLETHYN as DCI Vera Stanhope.

In books such as The Crow Trap, Vera is obese, boozy, lonesome and perhaps not easy to like – but able to get through to friends and relatives of victims through her empathy. On TV she’s been niced-up, made more presentable and simplified.

But wouldn’t it be great to see Brenda Blethyn stretching her talent by playing that more challenging and difficult Vera?

Cast: Brenda Blethyn DCI Vera Stanhope, David Leon DS Joe Ashworth, Jon Morrison DC Kenny Lockhart, Clare Calbraith DC Rebecca Shepherd, Sonya Cassidy Celine Ashworth, Kingsley Ben-Adir Pathologist Marcus Summer, Riley Jones DC Mark Edwards, Olivia Armstrong Jessie Ashworth

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Vera series 3, ITV, with Brenda Blethyn, David Leon PREVIEW

VERA STANHOPE (Brenda Blethyn) and DC KENNY LOCKHART (Jon Morrison). VERA SERIES 3  EPISODE 1  CASTLES IN THE AIR
Vera (Brenda Blethyn) and DC Lockhart (Jon Morrison). Pics: ITV

Rating: ★★★

ITV: starts Sunday, 25 August, 9pm

Story: DCI Vera Stanhope investigates the brutal murder of young physiotherapist, Lizzie Faulkner, gunned down at a luxury country retreat. For DS Joe Ashworth, the case brings him face to face with a part of his past he’d rather forget.

BRENDA BLETHYN dons her Paddington Bear outfit to take us on another lovely tour of Northumberland. Of course, as she is playing Detective Chief Inspector Vera Stanhope, the sights include an unfortunate young woman who’s been blasted with a shotgun.

Initially, it seems there won’t be much traipsing around with Detective Sergeant Joe Ashworth asking where everyone was on Saturday night because they have nabbed a scowling local who was in the field with a shotgun on that very night. Bingo!

Except that this is a 90-minute episode, so Robert Doran probably really was shooting badgers at the time, as he claims. Then, after a second murder is committed when Corinne Franks is run down by a fleeing car, it seems blindingly obvious that angry local Justin Bishop is their man. After all, Corinne

VERA STANHOPE (Brenda Blethyn), DC KENNY LOCKHART (Jon Morrison) and ROBERT DORAN (Richard Riddell).VERA SERIES 3  EPISODE 1  CASTLES IN THE AIR
Vera at Robert Doran’s remote cottage

had killed his wife in a road accident.

Vera and Joe

But, alas… well, I won’t give more of the plot away. Let’s just say we all know how these procedurals work. Ever since Agatha Christie minted the formula back in the 1920s, it’s a given that whoever appears clearly guilty turns out to be resoundingly innocent, and whoever appears to be happily married is an adulterer etc etc.

Despite Vera following the whodunit conventions, it does have a bit more going for it. The writers (Paul Rutman, Gaby Chiappe) do flesh out Vera and Joe a little, so that we see a bit of occasional needle in their quasi mother-and-surrogate-son relationship.

We also see Joe’s marriage, and his wife’s near jealousy of Joe’s devotion to his job (in other words, Vera). There is also a subplot here about Joe having once mistakenly ensured that Doran was prosecuted and jailed for a crime in which he had actually acted in self-defence.

VERA STANHOPE (Brenda Blethyn). VERA SERIES 3  EPISODE 1  CASTLES IN THE AIR
What have we here, then? Vera at Doran’s place

Another star performance from Brenda Blethyn 

And we get glimpses of Vera’s loneliness, and consequent fondness for a drink. All these moments breathe some life into the principals, though they still remain shadows of the characters depicted in author Ann Cleeves‘ series of popular novels.

But as David Leon, who plays Joe, says, ‘The plot is very important to the audience but I think the characters are what they remember.’

Spot on, and Vera’s distinctiveness is of course down to Brenda Blethyn’s fine performances, with her Vera veering between mumsy tenderness and steely determination.

Nicholas Gleaves and Shaun Dingwall

ITV also lines up a good cast for the stories, so we have Nicholas Gleaves as the smooth business partner of Corinne and her husband, while Shaun Dingwall is the rather chippy Justin Bishop.

Vera also has a new officer on her team – DC Barry Kelman, played by Gareth Farr. And later on,
Saskia Reeves, Dean Andrews, Liam Cunningham and Jill Halfpenny will turn up in the remaining

VERA STANHOPE (Brenda Blethyn) and DS Joe Ashworth (David Leon). VERA SERIES 3  EPISODE 1  CASTLES IN THE AIR
Vera, Joe and the breathtaking scenery

three dramas.

And, of course, the other selling point of the show is the stunning scenery, the North East having breathtaking star quality throughout.

So, the new series of Vera presses all the buttons that its devotees will be hoping for, and it reaches a pretty decent, though not wildly surprising, denouement too.

Cast: Brenda Blethyn DCI Vera Stanhope, David Leon D.S. Joe Ashworth, Jon Morrison DC Kenny Lockhart, Riley Jones DC Mark Edwards, Paul Ritter Pathologist Billy Cartwright, Richard Riddell Robert Doran, Cassie Atkinson Tina Robson, Eva Quinn Lizzie Faulkner, Leah Brotherhead Maisie Jones, Nicholas Gleaves Tim Hopkins, Alex Childs Kirsty Hopkins, Shaun Dingwall Justin Bishop, Sonya Cassidy Celine, Mia Wyles Jessie Ashworth, Vinette Robinson
Corinne Franks, Alexander Arnold Sam Bishop

You can rent episodes of Vera online at ITV Player

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Broadchurch — great finish for the best new UK crime series

ITV's Broadchurch, starring Oskar McNamara as Danny
Oskar McNamara as Danny. Pics: ITV

Broadchurch revealed its secrets in the final episode last night and confirmed its position as the best new UK crime series since Sherlock. The Beeb, BSkyB, Channel 4 and ITV churn out dozens of murder dramas each year but none has generated the buzz that Broadchurch did.

Much of the watercooler chat was about whodunit, but Broadchurch was a much better show than those that are simply puzzles over a perpetrator’s identity, intriguing though that was. The bookies, and most of us in the audience, strongly suspected it was Joe, anyway.

Broadchurch worked so brilliantly because it learnt from the first series of The Killing and was a seering exploration of a crime and its painful fallout for a community – ambitions way above most TV crime fare. Central to the whole story was the Latimers and the heartbreak and confused loss they were suffering. Hats off to writer and creator Chris Chibnall (United, Law & Order: UK) for devising such a rich, compelling drama.

Olivia Colman, David Tennant in Broadchurch, ITV
Olivia Colman and David Tennant

Olivia Colman was superb throughout, but really went above the call of duty in portraying the nightmare that befell Ellie during the finale. David Tennant was very good – as usual – as Alec, the lead detective who was by turns irritating and vulnerable. And, for my money, Andrew Buchan also stood out at times as Danny’s dad, particularly early in the series in the scene when he had to identify his son’s body.

  • Daily Telegraph final episode review
  • Guardian final episode review
  • Independent final episode review

ITV wasted no time last night in announcing that Broadchurch will be back. Which will be interesting, seeing that Alec is being invalided out of the force and Ellie will have to leave town. The story is, of course, being kept under wraps, but will go into production next year. More than nine-million viewers have been watching, so another series is not a surprise.

My guess is series two could involve Sandbrook, Alec’s previous and disastrous case.

Anyway, final word to Chris Chibnall  – ‘The whole Broadchurch team has been delighted and properly gobsmacked by the response from ITV viewers. When I first talked to Peter Fincham and Laura Mackie, ITV’s Director of Drama about Broadchurch, I mentioned that if people liked it, there was another very different story we could tell afterwards. I’m really thrilled we’re going to tell that story too.’

Here’s the extra scene from Broadchurch that was posted on Facebook last night…

• In other news, ITV also announced yesterday that there will be a fourth series of Vera. Brenda Blethyn will this summer start filming four new 120-minute stories based on the character created by crime author Ann Cleeves.

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Shetland, BBC1, starring Douglas Henshall PREVIEW

Shetland, BBC1, Douglas Henshall as Jimmy Perez
Douglas Henshall as Detective Perez. Pic: BBC


Rating: ★★★½

BBC1: starts Sunday, 10 March, 9pm

Story: Detective Jimmy Perez has returned to his native Shetland and is confronted by the shooting of an old lady and the discovery of human remains at an archaeological dig. 

The Shetland Islands are not quite far enough north to classify this new crime procedural as Scandi-noir, but they’re not far off. Gloomy and wind-blasted, they even have a Viking-themed fire festival and the locals have the same un-sunny complexion as the characters in The Killing or The Bridge.

Still, this remote outpost of the UK is an intriguing and magnificent setting – when there’s some daylight. It also has its challenges for our hero, Jimmy Perez, such as often having no phone signal or having to jump on a ferry to visit a murder scene.

Shetland, BBC1, Sandy Wilson (STEVEN ROBERTSON), Jimmy Perez (DOUGLAS HENSHALL), Tosh (ALISON O'DONNELL)
Sandy, Jimmy and Tosh

Jimmy Perez investigates a granny’s murder
The detective is a native Shetlander who has returned home to bring up his stepdaughter, Cassie, following the death of his other half. The first killing he has to investigate is that of a grandmother, Mima, blasted with a shotgun at her isolated croft.

This two-part mystery is based on Ann Cleeves’ elegantly written novel, Red Bones (Ann is also the author of the Vera novels, soon to return to ITV). Sadly, this production falls into the trap of thrusting us straight in the police procedural element of the story without giving us much chance to learn about Jimmy, his return to the island with teenager Cassie, or his new colleagues – Sgt Billy McCabe, DC Alison ‘Tosh’ MacIntosh and PC Sandy Wilson.

Doulas Henshall heads a good cast in Shetland
So many British crime dramas are about detectives in a pretty setting asking people where they were on the night of the 15th. Sadly, Shetland slavishly follows the formula, leaving Jimmy and the other main characters flat.

Which is a shame, because the cast is good, the novel full of atmosphere and the islands are fascinating. But all we get here is the whodunit with tourist trappings – ceilidhs, seascapes and the rest, with little character interest.

Murdered for her land?
Anyway, back to the plot. Mima has been killed by the site of a dig where a human skull has just been found by Hattie, a young archaeologist. Perez realises that Mima may have been caught between the long-held animosities of two local families – the rich Haldanes and the struggling Wilsons.

Mima had been offered money for her land, which was targeted for holiday homes. Was she killed for her land? Or was it because she might close down the dig after the human remains were found, which for some reason upset her? Are the bones ancient or contemporary?

Up Helly Aa – the fire festival
The drama is ratcheted up nicely in part two as the annual fire festival, Up Helly Aa, is spectacularly recreated and Perez closes on the grievances that led to murder.

It’s a decent enough mystery, but a shame that Jimmy and co never burn as brightly as the festival.

Cast: Douglas Henshall Detective Jimmy Perez, Erin Armstrong Cassie, Gemma Chan Hattie James, Sandra Voe Mima Wilson, Alison O’Donnell Alison ‘Tosh’ MacIntosh, Lewis Howden Sgt Billy McCabe, Steven Robertson PC Sandy Wilson, Jim Sturgeon Ronald, Alexander Morton Joseph

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Ripper Street, Shetland on BBC1

Jerome Flynn, Matthew Macfadyen, Adam Rothenberg. Pic: BBC

• After ITV1’s take on Jack the Ripper in Whitechapel comes the BBC’s – Ripper Street. This eight-parter is set in Victorian London just after Jack the Ripper’s killings. The action focuses on notorious H Division, the precinct from Hell, dealing with crime-ridden streets of Whitechapel and the legacy of the serial killer. It stars Matthew Macfadyen, Jerome Flynn, Adam Rothenberg and MyAnna Buring, who recently appeared in ITV1’s The Poison Tree.

Dougie Hensall in Shetland. Pic: BBC

• Ripper Street will probably air in the first week of the New Year, along with Shetland (above), also on BBC1, a two-parter based on the novels of Ann Cleeves, who created ITV’s Vera Stanhope. Dougie Henshall stars as Detective Jimmy Perez, a native Shetlander who returns home after a spell away. And guess what? A body turns up… Fans of of Ann Cleeves should note that she has a new Shetland novel out next month, Dead Water.

• For some reason, Death in Paradise is returning for another eight episodes on BBC1. This was a very bland detective show with Ben Miller as the cop out of his normal habitat on a paradise island, but perhaps it shows that any middle-of-the-road crime show in a pretty location is a shoo-in for recommission. That the excellent Zen was quickly axed while Death in Paradise is brought back is a bit mind-boggling. Anyway, the Beeb is throwing the stars at the new series – Mathew Horne, Hannah Spearritt, Ralf Little, Cherie Lunghi, Dexter Fletcher, Stephanie Beacham and more.

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Vera series 2 with Brenda Blethyn PREVIEW

Brenda Blethyn as Vera. Pics: ITV

Rating: ★★★½

ITV1: Sunday, 22 April, 8pm

Story: Vera is reunited briefly and tragically with her first sergeant and mentor, Stuart Macken. Now a shadow of the man Vera once knew, Macken has been burned when his house was petrol-bombed, and his daughter badly injured. Vera sets out to discover who had a grudge against her old friend, turning initially to Brian, the new husband of Macken’s ex-wife and now stepfather to his daughter…

Unlikely cop Vera – played with pathos and cussedness by Brenda Blethyn – returns for four more two-hour investigations. TV’s current quest for strong female leading characters, Vera’s quirkiness and the stunning Northumberland setting made last year’s debut series a ratings success, averaging 6.5 million viewers.

It’s a good, mainstream drama, based on the stories and characters of novelist Ann Cleeves. There’s nothing edgy about it, being the detective plus sidekick (DS Joe Ashworth) format that British TV is rooted to.

David Leon is DS Ashworth

What raises Vera above say, Lewis, is that it takes time out from the interminable questioning of suspects to explore Vera Stanhope’s existence. She’s a pretty sad character – great at her job, but lonely, overweight (hugely so in the books) and partial to a whisky in her solitude.

Vera on edge
Her creator describes her as looking more like a bag lady than a detective, though with her floppy-brimmed hat and big coat she looks quite like Paddington Bear. She likes her colleague Joe (David Leon), but shuns socialising with the happily married sergeant.

A sharp scene in this opener, ‘The Ghost Position’, occurs when Joe finally corners Vera into joining him and his wife for dinner. Surrounded by all the trappings of companionable family life, Vera is on edge, eventually blurting out that she has lied about getting a clean bill of health from her doctor. She is actually suffering from angina.

Such moments inject the drama with a lot more emotion and humanity than the usual plodding towards the resolution of whodunit.

Dark deeds… Joe and Vera at the burned-out house

Fighting her grief
This new case is also a personal one for Vera. When her former sergeant, Stuart Macken, is injured after his home is petrol-bombed, Vera is shocked to see that her old mentor is a shadow of his former self.

This is partly to do with the fact that he is injured and his daughter, Stella, severely so, in the inferno, but also that his career nosedived after his divorce, prompting him to become a threatening menace towards his wife and her new husband.

Further tragedy hits unhappy Stuart, and Vera fights her grief to track down the person with a motive for attacking the policeman and his daughter. Family secrets and an elusive misfit lead to a surprising and emotional – if slightly torturous – climax.

But ultimately, the investigation is just an excuse to spend time with Brenda Blethyn as Northumberland’s very own Columbo – scruffy, easily underestimated but very sharp.

Cast: Brenda Blethyn DCI Vera Stanhope, David Leon D.S. Joe Ashworth, Wunmi Mosaku D.C. Holly Lawson, Jon Morrison DC Kenny Lockhart, Paul Ritter Pathologist Billy Cartwright, Julie Graham Marianne, Steven Hartley Stuart Macken, Jessica Barden Stella Macken, Ron Cook Brian, Brougan West Dougie Cranham, Emily Woof Janice, Rosie Leslie Lena Mayhew, Nina Sosanya Rachel Waite, Richard Stacey Bellowes, Sonya Cassidy Celine

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Vera with Brenda Blethyn PREVIEW

Brenda Blethyn as Vera. Pics: (C) ITV Plc

Rating ★★★★

Vera: Hidden Depths ITV1, Sunday, 1 May, 8pm

Vera, the latest fictional detective to stride onto the TV crime scene, is a far more interesting figure than the familiar old-timers around at present, such as Lewis or Barnaby.

She’s the antithesis of glamour-pusses such as Kelly Reilly’s Travis in Above Suspicion, more of a Columbo-esque figure – shambling, short, easily underestimated. And she loves a drink.

DCI Vera Stanhope, as imagined by author Ann Cleeves, is hugely fat. As played by a terrific Brenda Blethyn here, she’s more podgy than massive, owing to the many layers of cardies she’s got on.

Vera’s deputy, Joe Ashworth, is played by David Leon

DS Joe Ashworth (David Leon)

She is also on her own. No children, lives alone. We first meet her in this opener, Hidden Depths, as she cajoles her deputy, DS Joe Ashworth (David Leon), into casting her father’s ashes into the sea for her. At the launch for this new series, Brenda Blethyn said she didn’t think Vera was lonely, but that she just didn’t mind her own company. Which is really another way of saying she’s lonely.

Vera is certainly more obsessive than Joe, who is effectively her surrogate son. But Joe has a life of his own with a wife and kids, so though Vera feels close to him, she won’t let on.

Her opening case involves a teenage boy, Luke, who is found dead by his mother, Julie (Gina McKee), when she returns home from a night out. The lad has been left at the family home in a bath tube filled with water and decorated with flowers. His elder sister, Laura (Gabrielle Ross) was asleep in the house during the crime.

Spectacular Northumberland setting

Julie (Gina McKee)

‘Like some poncey installation at the Baltic,’ is Vera’s caustic assessment of the killer’s arrangement.

The Baltic art centre, of course, pinpoints the North East setting, which is beautifully photographed to make a wild and spectacular backdrop to this mystery.

A second body is found, that of beautiful young teacher Lily (Samantha Neale), is then found in a rock pool of water on an isolated beach, again strewn with flowers. Vera starts probing the friendships and infidelities in the circle of academic Peter Calvert (Murray Head). But when another potential victim then goes missing too, she and Joe are in a desperate chase to locate the serial killer.

Wunmi Mosaku as DC Holly Lawson
This series has been lavishly produced and directed beautifully. With some decent actors to feature in the remaining three films, including Daniela Nardini and Hugo Speer, and regulars such as David Leon and Wunmi Mosaku as DC Holly Lawson, these mysteries certainly stand out from the crowd.

DC Holly Lawson (Wunmi Mosaku)

As for Vera, Brenda Blethyn offers this insight –  ‘A sense of justice drives Vera, and also a sense of worthiness. She grew up with her father and he never had any time for her at all. She’s finding a sense of self worth and is always having to prove herself – it’s part of her psyche to earn her place on the earth.

Vera’s different as she’s a woman in a man’s job and is doing it very well. And she’s not a sex symbol – usually when you see a female detective, she’s a pin-up. Vera evidently is not and I find that refreshing.’  

For a fine actor such as Brenda Blethyn, the slightly melancholy Vera is a part that should win her a big following.

Brenda Blethyn as Vera • Undisclosed

Two-time Oscar nominee Brenda Blethyn charmed the press at ITV1’s launch for Vera, the new adaptation of Ann Cleeves’ detective stories looming at the end of April. Of her being chosen for the part, the actress said, ‘Vera is a huge woman, looks like a bag lady. I thought, why have they thought of me.’

In fact, as fans of the novels will know, Vera looks as though it would ‘take a crane to shift her, one of those huge cranes that towered over the river down at Wallsend’. Shapeless clothes, badly cut hair, Vera has not become a detective inspector on the basis of her looks. Brenda, for all the layers of clothes she wears, is not as sumo-esque as Vera is in the books, but she still conjures up an interesting, solitary heroine.

Paul Rutman, who adapted the story, said, ‘Vera is a unique character in British television. She has a freedom in being solitary. There’s no self-pity. She’s a great character.’

Brenda said, ‘It’s the first time I’ve played a policewoman seriously.’ Of Vera’s Geordie accent, the actress explained, ‘The accent is notoriously difficult, but I had a good teacher. I learned by going to town and talking to shoppers. And I listened to Cheryl Cole a lot.’ The other difficulties she encountered filming in Northumberland were, ‘dealing with the cold – fortunately, I had layers of clothes on… and having to run.’

Her favourite TV detectives? ‘All the usual suspects,’ she said. ‘Wallander, Frost, Colombo. I like them all. I loved Joan Hickson’s Miss Marple.’

A preview of Vera will follow later, but I would say it is a quite beautifully filmed mystery. 

Philip Glenister, fresh from Sky1’s Mad Dogs, will be joining David Suchet in BBC1’s new thriller, Undisclosed

The brains behind it are pretty impressive. It’s written and created by Ronan Bennett (Public Enemies, Hamburg Cell) and Walter Bernstein (The Magnificent Seven, Fail Safe). It features a small-time solicitor, Harry Venn (Glenister), who is unwittingly drawn into investigating the death of his brother 20 years previously. He is soon caught in a conspiracy emanating from the heart of the British political system.

Glenister says, ‘I am looking forward to shooting Undisclosed which I feel is a bold, innovative, complex piece of drama.’

Bennett adds, ‘I have really enjoyed collaborating with Walter on Undisclosed and I am delighted the drama has attracted such an outstanding cast. I hope the twists and turns of this conspiracy thriller will keep audiences hooked.’

Cast includes: David Suchet (Agatha Christie: Poirot) as Sir Nigel Fountain; Richard Dormer (My Boy Jack) plays Frank Hanna; Mark Powley (Bronson, The Bill) plays Mark Venn; Peter Guinness Sleepy Hollow, Red Cap) plays Jason Styles; Benjamin Smith (Nowhere Boy) plays Matt; Matthew Marsh (Luther, Spy Game) plays James Morpeth; Paul Ritter (Larkrise to Candleford) plays Stevie Quirke; and Thomas Craig (Murdoch Mysteries) plays DS/DI Fenton Russell. 

Book of the week – Truth Lies Bleeding by Tony Black. The Edinburgh author steps away from his part-time sleuth and full-time drinker Gus Dury, hero of terrific stories such as Gutted and Long Time Dead, to give us a new hero, Inspector Rob Brennan. Just back from psychiatric leave after the murder of his brother, Brennan is immediately faced with a horrific case that pushes him to the limit. A teenage girl is found dismembered in a dumpster. Brennan has a rather cynical view of the world (it’s not hard to see why), marital problems and a boss on his back. His only way through is to try to do the job and hope his brutal capital city will make some sense eventually. Truth Lies Bleeding pins the reader to their chair with deft action, sharp characters and a harrowing plot. The paperback’s out in July. Well worth catching.

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