Stonemouth, BBC2, Peter Mullan, Christian Cooke, Charlotte Spencer

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 21/04/2015 - Programme Name: Stonemouth - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: BBC Two Launch 2015 Don (PETER MULLAN), Ellie (CHARLOTTE SPENCER), Stewart (CHRISTIAN COOKE) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Mark Mainz

Three’s a crowd – Peter Mullan, Charlotte Spencer and Christian Cooke 

Beautifully filmed and acted romantic mystery based on Iain Banks’s best-selling novel.

★★★ BBC2, starts Thursday, 11 June, 9pm

THIS BBC SCOTLAND production is a cheering reminder of Iain Banks’s fine talent for conjuring dark tales with edge and wit. As if that wasn’t enough, it also has a great setting and cast.

Stewart Gilmour returns to sea town Stonemouth following the apparent suicide of his once best mate, Callum. He was run out of town two years previously by the gangster father of his ex-fiancé, the beautiful Ellie Murston, who is also Callum’s sister.

Programme Name: Stonemouth - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows:  Stewart (CHRISTIAN COOKE) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Mark Mainz

Suspicious – Stewart

Stewart obtains the permission of Don Murston – an extremely gruff and menacing Peter Mullan – to return for Callum’s funeral, after which he has to skedaddle. It’s obvious that all sorts of skeletons are about to charge out of cupboards during Stewart’s return.

Charlotte Spencer and Christian Cooke

Programme Name: Stonemouth - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows:  Ellie (CHARLOTTE SPENCER) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Mark Mainz

The love of Stewart’s life – Ellie

Ellie is the love of his life and Stewart, who received a message from Callum the day before he died saying he was in trouble, has his doubts that his friend’s fatal plunge was self-inflicted. It’s not long before he also stumbles on an explosive secret concerning Don – or more specifically his wife. And with every thug in town – including one played by Brian Gleeson – eyeing him with suspicion, it’s clear Stewart’s visit is going to be memorable.

The story’s background unfolds in flashbacks so that we see Stewart and his circle as children and teens, bonding and falling in love. Charlotte Spencer, so good last year in C4’s Glue, is alluring as Ellie, and well complemented by another English actor convincingly playing a Scot, Christian Cooke as Stewart.

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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

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