Innocent ITV trailer

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The Adventures/Casebook/Memoirs/ Return of Sherlock Holmes Killer TV — No16


ITV, 1984-94

‘How an English gentleman could behave in such a manner is beyond comprehension.’ – Sherlock Holmes on the traitor and murderer Colonel Walter

Jeremy Brett, David Burke, Rosalie Williams, Charles Gray, Colin Jeavons, Eric Porter

Identikit: The dazzling consulting detective and his trusty lieutenant thwart the most diabolical criminal masterminds of the Victorian age.

logosOf Arthur Conan Doyle’s 60 Holmes stories, 42 were adapted by ITV for this fond and faithful series, featuring a quintessential Sherlock from Jeremy Brett. Precise, eccentric, twitchy, hawk-like and with his verbal ejaculations, Brett’s sleuth was a riveting turn. The series was a textbook adaptation with pea-soupers, frock coats and hansom cabs. So faithful to Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation was the series that the closing credits of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes featured some of Sidney Paget’s illustrations for the original Strand Magazine stories. However, some  storylines and plots were altered for TV, and a big change saw Holmes cleaning up his cocaine habit in The Devil’s Foot (an update approved by Conan Doyle’s daughter). It was hugely popular, particularly in the US, where it was shown on PBS. One weakness that the contemporary reboots Sherlock and Elementary don’t make is having flimsy, vapid versions of Dr Watson and Mrs Hudson (no fault of the actors, Edward Hardwicke, who replaced David Burke after the first series, and Rosalie Williams). Screenwriter John Hawkesworth (Upstairs, Downstairs) developed it for TV and wrote several episodes, along with the likes of Alexander Baron (A Family at War, Poldark) and Alan Plater (The Beiderbecke Trilogy, A Very British Coup). Granada TV even built a full-scale outdoor replica of Baker Street for the series. But it was undoubtedly Brett, veering between eccentric and depressive (a condition the actor suffered from severely), who galvanised the stories. He sadly died of heart failure in 1995, aged 61, bringing the series to an end, though he had apparently occasionally considered giving up the role owing to his ill health, not helped by his 60-a-day cigarette habit.

Classic episode: In The Red-Handed League (series 2) a prank is played on a red-haired man before we meet a man with long fingernails – the Napoleon of Crime himself. Eric Porter is diabolical (in a good way) as Moriarty, Tim McInnerny and Richard Wilson turn up in the cast, and Holmes thwarts a huge robbery of gold. Bizarre and mysterious as the best Holmes adventures often are.

Watercooler fact: Jude Law appeared in the 1991 episode The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place, as the servant who impersonates Lady Beatrice, later going on to play Dr Watson to Robert Downey Jr’s Sherlock Holmes on the big screen.

• The full Killer 50 so far – including The Bridge, Twin Peaks, True Detective, Inspector Morse and more – can be found here

Midwinter of the Spirit, ITV, Anna Maxwell Martin, David Threlfall

From ITV Studios Midwinter Of The Spirit on ITV Pictured: Lol Robinson [Ben Bailey Smith], Rev. Merrily Watkins [Anna Maxwell Martin] and Rev. Huw Owens [David Threlfall]. Merrily is deeply human in her doubts and scepticism, but her knowledge of the paranormal underworld brings her to the notice of local police who need her advice in the investigation of a grisly murder. This photograph is (C) ITV Plc and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above, or ITV plc. Once made available by ITV plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the transmission [TX] date and no reproduction fee will be charged. Any subsequent usage may incur a fee. This photograph must not be manipulated [excluding basic cropping] in a manner which alters the visual appearance of the person photographed deemed detrimental or inappropriate by ITV plc Picture Desk. This photograph must not be syndicated to any other company, publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Plc Picture Desk. Full Terms and conditions are available on the website

Chill factor: Lol Robinson (Ben Bailey Smith), the Rev Merrily Watkins (Anna Maxwell Martin) and the Rev Huw Owens (David Threlfall)

A crime series with a supernatural twist

★★★½ ITV, starts Wednesday, 23 September, 9pm

GENRE-CROSSING crime series look set to be come a bit of a trend. We’ve recently seen Fox’s Wayward Pines with Matt Dillon, a sci-fi tale with crime elements. ITV Encore’s The Frankenstein Chronicles, starring Sean Bean, ‘reimagines’ the story from the standpoint of a police investigator.

Meanwhile, James Nesbitt has been filming Sky1’s high-concept series Lucky Man, based on comic-book legend Stan Lee’s idea about a detective who finds a magic bracelet that brings him good luck.

And here we have Midwinter of the Spirit, a three-parter that mixes supernatural themes with crime ingredients. It would appear that the cop-drama clogged TV schedules have bled the genre dry, and writers are now juicing the formula up with sci-fi/horror twists.

Anna Maxwell Martin as Merrily

Anyway, the first thing to say about Midwinter is that it does what it says on the tin. It is definitely creepy, helped by the fact that it’s based on Phil Rickman‘s chilling novels and a terrific performance by Anna Maxwell Martin.

She plays the Rev Merrily Watkins, a single mum with a teenage daughter who’s taken on a new role in her small-town parish – that of exorcist. [Read more…]

New Maigret with Rowan Atkinson

ITV has commenced filming Maigret Sets A Trap one of two stand-alone dramatic films featuring the legendary French fictional detective Jules Maigret, played by Rowan Atkinson. This image is the copyright of ITV and must be used in relation to Maigret. Photographer John Rogers.

Cop this – Jules Maigret, played by Rowan Atkinson

HERE’S a first look at Rowan Atkinson in ITV’s new series about the French detective Jules Maigret. Filming has just started in Budapest on Maigret Sets a Trap, one of two standalone dramatic films, with the second being Maigret’s Dead Man. The setting is Paris in the 1950s and each story will be 90-minutes long. Other cast include Fiona Shaw (Harry Potter, True Blood), Aiden McCardle (Mr Selfridge, The Mill) and Shaun Dingwall (Silent Witness, Death In Paradise). It looks like a big production for ITV and a lot will be riding on how well Rowan Atkinson sheds his Mr Bean baggage to convincingly portray author Georges Simenon’s much-admired creation.

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…]

Vera series 5 on DVD

image004RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 12 Discs: 2
Running time: 356 mins approx


THE RECENT FIFTH series of ITV’s Vera is now out on DVD. Inspired by the best-selling novels of Ann Cleeves, Vera has since 2011 established itself as one of the channel’s most popular mainstream crime dramas. Key to its success has, of course, been the casting of Brenda Blethyn as the indomitable DCI Vera Stanhope, who in this new series was joined by Kenny Doughty as her sidekick, DS Aiden Healy.

Apart from Doughty, there were few surprises in season five, but the usual well-produced mysteries in the beautifully filmed Northumberland setting were enough to win audiences of around six million viewers. The stories included here are Changing Tides, Old Wounds, Muddy Waters and Shadows in the Sky. It’s only a shame that they seemed to have scrimped on the DVD extras.

Safe House, ITV, Christopher Eccleston


Isolated – Christopher Eccleston in Safe House


He’s a former cop, his remote house offering shelter to a troubled family is ‘safe’ and has security cameras – what could go wrong?

★★★★ ITV, Mondays, 9pm

WITH SO many whodunits, police procedurals and foreign cops on TV these days, it’s a tough ask to come up with something fresh.

Safe House is a thriller that has a good go at doing just that. It has an interesting premise and a magnificent, forbidding setting.

Ex-Doctor Who Christopher Eccleston plays Robert, a former cop living in a secluded, ramshackle house in the Lake District with Katy (Marsha Thomason). Robert’s old colleague Mark (Paterson Joseph) points out that the home they plan to turn into a B&B would make a perfect safe house for people who need protection.

Safe House, ITV, Christopher Eccleston

Christopher Eccleston, Marsha Thomason and Paterson Joseph

Troubled family go to the safe house

Robert’s career came to a violent end when he was shot. He still hankers after the life and is haunted by the shooting, so he accepts Mark’s proposal, with Katy’s agreement.

The plot is thickened nicely by the family they must take in. Someone has tried to kidnap prison officer David’s son at a fun fair and then killed a bystander who intervened. Who is this menacing figure, who tells David’s son his name is Mike? And why was David targeted?

David (played by Jason Merrells), his wife and their teenage daughter and young son move into Robert’s house. Meanwhile, David attempts to contact his other son, who is meant to be at uni but seems to be living on the road. David’s violent stalker could also be homing in on the lad.

[Read more…]

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