Unforgotten, ITV, Nicola Walker, Sanjeev Bhaskar

MAINSTREET PICTURES FOR ITV UNFORGOTTEN EPISODE 1 Pictured : NICOLA WALKER as DCI Cassie Stuart and SANJEEV BHASKAR as DS Sunil Khan. Photographer: JOHN ROGERS This image is the copyright of ITV and must be credited. The images are for one use only and to be used in relation to UNFORGOTTEN, any further usage could incur a fee.

Nicola Walker as DCI Cassie Stuart and Sanjeev Bhaskar as DS Sunil Khan

A terrific cast comes together for this intriguing cold-case drama

★★★½ ITV, starts Thursday, 8 October, 9pm

UNFORGOTTEN brings together an odd-couple lead pairing of Nicola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar as coppers probing a 39-year-old cold case.

 UNFORGOTTEN EPISODE 1 Pictured : NICOLA WALKER as DCI Cassie Stuart and SANJEEV BHASKAR as DS Sunil Khan. Photographer: JOHN ROGERS This image is the copyright of ITV and must be credited. The images are for one use only and to be used in relation to UNFORGOTTEN, any further usage could incur a fee.

Digging for clues: DCI Cassie Stuart and DS Sunil Khan

Walker is currently on the crest of a career wave following a versatile run of successes in Last Tango in Halifax, Babylon and a menacing turn in Scott & Bailey. She is also excellent as a shadowy presence in the BBC’s forthcoming River, another crime series.

Meanwhile, Bhaskar has a track record as a terrific comedy presence in the likes of The Kumars and Goodness Gracious Me, and has been flexing his dramatic muscles in series such as The Indian Doctor.

With Bernard Hill, Tom Courtenay, Trevor Eve

Do they work as a dramatic pairing here? Walker is a dramatic actress who can pull off the light-hearted moments, whereas Bhaskar seems a light actor who remains light. So,on the basis on having seen only the opening episode, I would say the jury’s still out. [Read more…]

Undeniable, ITV, with Claire Goose, Peter Firth PREVIEW

Emma (Christine Bottomley), Rawlins, her dad (Peter Firth), Jane (Claire Goose) and Alison (Pippa Haywood). Pics: ITV

Rating: ★★★½

ITV: starts Monday, 7 April, 9pm

Story: As a child Jane Philips witnessed a savage and brutal attack by a stranger that left her mother dead. Twenty-three years later she believes she sees her mum’s killer again…

ON THE face of it, this has a terrific premise. A seven-year-old girl is at a lonely lakeside with her mother one day, when a man appears and murders the mum.

Twenty-years later, the girl, Jane, now 30, sees a man she believes is the killer. Her life and state of mind are thrown into turmoil as she sets about trying to prove his guilt.

But hold on. Let’s rewind that. Just how likely is it that a person could remember a face she saw for a fleeting moment nearly a quarter of a century before as a child? Particularly as the man would have aged significantly.

Claire Goose as the victim pursuing her mum’s murderer

CLAIRE GOOSE as Jane and FELIX SCOTT as Rob. Undeniable ITV
Marriage under stress – Rob (Felix Scott) and Jane

Claire Goose plays Jane and puts herself convincingly through the emotional wringer as a young married mum, expecting again, whose life goes on tilt when she sees the man, respected cancer doctor Andrew Rawlins (Peter Firth), at a hospital. She tells her husband Rob (Felix Scott), with convincing logic, that she is 99 percent sure Rawlins is the one – but even if she was only 50 percent certain she would still want to go to the police.

The problem is that when strong evidence suggests Rawlins is not the killer, Jane ploughs on, relying on her one sighting, even to the point of violence.

I’m sure it is possible that on rare occasions someone could pinpoint a killer they saw briefly as a child, but it just seems very unlikely, and that hangs over this two-part drama. It’s other big drawback is that a fairly complex but fascinating tale is crammed into two episodes.

Undeniable would have benefitted from being longer

ITV haven’t done writer Chris Lang any favours by squeezing it all into less than two hours (with ads taking up the rest). Given more space and development, it would have been intriguing to know more about Rawlins and about victims in Jane’s situation.

PIPPA HAYWOOD as Alison Hall. Undeniable ITV
Investigator – DI Alison Hall

It is a beautifully filmed production, and the acting is really fine, with Pippa Haywood also appearing as the detective who helps Jane to piece together some of Rawlins’s past. But again, her character has an interesting backstory that is glossed over.

A decent enough thriller, but it could have been a lot better.

Cast: Claire Goose Jane Phillips, Peter Firth Andrew Rawlins, Felix Scott Rob Phillips, Pippa Haywood DI Alison Hall, Christine Bottomley Emma Rawlins, Robert Pugh Pete

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Exile starring John Simm PREVIEW

Tom (John Simm) and the barmaid, Mandy (Claire Goose). Pics: BBC

Rating ★★★★½

BBC1 Sunday, 1 May, 9pm

John Simm is one of the most interesting and watchable actors on British television. He must also be one of the sharpest judges of scripts, because whether he picks something popular, such as Doctor Who or Life on Mars, or something punchier, State of Play or Mad Dogs, the 40-year-old is always believable but popular with it.

Here he teams up with Paul Abbott again (State of Play‘s writer) for a terrific noir thriller about a guy in crisis who ends up returning home and investigating his past.

Tom Ronstadt is an unpleasant swine. He’s a London journalist on a lads’ mag who ‘implodes’, loses the glam job that he’s come to despise and gets dumped by his girlfriend, taking his leave of her by whacking her in the face.

Oscar-winner Jim Broadbent
In turmoil, he returns to his northern hometown for the first time in 18 years. His sister, Nancy (a heartfelt performance by Olivia Colman), has been left looking after their father, Alzheimer-sufferer Sam, a former news journalist, played by Oscar-winner Jim Broadbent.

It was Sam’s savage attack on Tom, whom he’d caught rifling through his papers, that sent the young man into exile down south. What had Tom come close to discovering? The question nags him, and while Nancy urges him to forget the past, but the wound hurts too much, and Tom starts digging.

At first Jim Broadbent seems to have a thankless role to play, stripping off at inappropriate times, barely able to hold a conversation, shouting, occasionally violent. But he is, of course, the key to the story, if only Tom can pierce his mental fog, and Sam becomes a tantalising presence, offering moments of lucidity, even retaining the ability to play the piano with feeling while his brain’s on auto-pilot.

The part that made John Simm’s career
The core of the story is this painful father-son relationship, and behind Tom’s anger is his feeling that they were once a happy family. He remembers a time when there were no rows, no outbursts. ‘What changed?’ he asks the unresponsive Sam.

Danny Brocklehurst, the writer, has produced a drama that is strong and character-focused throughout (Paul Abbott, who effectively made John Simm’s career with the part he wrote for him in Cracker, is the creator of Exile). Even the secondary characters have heart. Mike (Shaun Dooley), the school best mate Tom left behind and with whose barmaid wife Tom sleeps without realising whom she is married to, is a sad, believable figure.

Often, character is revealed  in the little things, such as the way Tom despises the trashy hatchet journalist he became, in comparison to the campaigning newsman that Sam was. The only bum note here is the lavish lifestyle magazine writing seems to have provided for Tom – minimalist designer flat, expensive sports car – that will have most journalists rolling on the carpet.

The Metzler mystery
And then there is the nagging mystery, centring around the name Metzler, which Tom had seen all those years ago just before his father’s assault. Metzler (Timothy West), a business man, is now the leader of the council.

A strong year for crime dramas – there are four excellent series launching in the first week of May alone (Vera, Exile, The Shadow Line, Case Sensitive) – but Exile is definitely one that will lodge in the memory.

Sam (Jim Broadbent) and Tom

Cast: John Simm Tom Ronstadt, Jim Broadbent Sam Ronstadt, Olivia Colman Nancy, Claire Goose Mandy, Shaun Dooley Mike, Timothy West Metzler
Writer Danny Brocklehurst, creator Paul Abbott

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