The Level, ITV, Karla Crome

KARLA crome (Nancy Devlin) and LAURA HADDOCK (Hayley) For further information contact Patrick Smith patrick.smith@itv.com 0207 157 3044 ©ITV This photograph is the ©ITV 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 www.itvpictures.com For further information please contact: PATRICK SMITH

Peer pressure: Karla Crome (Nancy Devlin) and Laura Haddock (Hayley)

A rising female detective with an emotional attachment to a gangster is pitched into a world of danger

★★★ ITV, Friday, 30 September, 9pm

THE SCRIPT for this new ITV thriller was several years in gestation. It was time well spent because writers Gaby Chiappe and Alexander Perrin have come up with a taut gripper that has emotional punch.

HILLBILLY TV FOR ITV THE LEVEL on Picture shows: KARLA CROME (Nancy Devlin), ROBERT JAMES-COLLIER (Kevin O'Dowd), LINDSEY COULSON (Michelle Newman) and NOEL CLARK (Gunner Martin) For further information contact Patrick Smith patrick.smith@itv.com 0207 157 3044 ©ITV This photograph is the ©ITV 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 www.itvpictures.com For further information please contact: PATRICK SMITH

Karla Crome, Robert James-Collier, Lindsey Coulson and Noel Clarke

Karla Crome plays Nancy Devlin, a detective with a difference. She is inextricably linked to gangster Frank Le Saux – an affecting turn from Philip Glenister. Le Saux was a father figure to Nancy during her turbulent childhood. Meanwhile, his daughter, Hayley (Laura Haddock), became her best friend.

This compromising relationship has survived her rise to distinction as a detective sergeant. When we first meet Nancy she is being paraded before colleagues after saving her boss, Kevin O’Dowd (Downton‘s Robert James-Collier), from a lethal attack.

Nancy’s tracked by a killer

However, Nancy is also in the habit of giving Frank a wink if he ever comes under investigation.

When Frank then contacts her because he is in trouble, Nancy’s career is suddenly under threat, to say nothing of her life. As she struggles to avoid being implicated in a murder investigation, she is also being tracked by a killer.

HILLBILLY TV FOR ITV THE LEVEL on Picture shows: LAURA HADDOCK as Hayley For further information contact Patrick Smith patrick.smith@itv.com 0207 157 3044 ©ITV This photograph is the ©ITV 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 www.itvpictures.com For further information please contact: PATRICK SMITH

Laura Haddock as Hayley

The Level, which refers to an area of Brighton – where the six-part series is set – and the idea of being on the level, is a very effective thriller. It is fast and tense without implausibly stretching the story.

We’ve seen Karla Crome in series such as the excellent Prisoners’ Wives and Misfit. She has no trouble holding the limelight here. Laura Haddock, usually seen in big-budget nonsense like Da Vinci’s Demons, is spot on as the ballsy badgirl who was once close to Nancy. [Read more…]

Prisoners’ Wives 2, BBC1, with Polly Walker, Pippa Haywood, Karla Crome, Iain Glen PREVIEW

Sally Carman, Polly Walker, Karla Crome and Pippa Haywood, Prisoners' Wives BBC
Frisky business for Kim, Francesca, Aisling and Harriet. Pics: BBC

Rating: ★★★★

BBC1: Thursday, 14 March, 9pm

Story: Francesca, her dad and her two children are nearly burned to death in an arson attack organised by a rival of her imprisoned husband’s. Harriet and her son embark on new spiritual paths, and two new women appear at visiting time – Kim, the respectable wife of a man accused of child abuse, and Aisling, the gutsy teenage daughter of a repeat offender.

The first series didn’t attract much of a fanfare when it went out around this time last year, but that compelling drama about four very different women coping with their men being behind bars attracted a solid audience of 5million and was quickly recommissioned by BBC1.

Season 2 has some new faces and says goodbye to a couple of former characters. Gemma’s story, featuring Emma Rigby, reached a natural conclusion when she walked away from Steve (Jonas Armstrong). And Lou (Natalie Gavin), who lost her boy and ended up in jail herself, was too difficult to integrate in to the new storylines as well.

Sally Carman and Pippa Haywood in Prisoners' Wives BBC1
Kim meets Harriet in the visitor centre

Sally Carman and Karla Crome
In comes Kim (Shameless star Sally Carman) as the wife of an apparently respectable man who ends up inside after being accused of abusing a neighbour’s son. And Karla Crome, the young star seen recently in series such as Hit & Miss, Misfits and Lightfields, plays Aisling, the feisty daughter of roguish repeat offender Brendan (Owen Roe).

The series kicks off explosively when Francesca’s home on the estate, where she lives with her dad (David Bradley), is set alight by arsonists one night. She and her dad and two children escape, but the house is burnt out.

Gangster hubby Paul (Downton‘s Iain Glen) tells her it’s a turf war and she must help him to resolve it. Reluctantly she agrees to hand over a ‘peace offering’ of a cache of weapons to Pearson, Paul’s rival.

Horrific ordeal for Francesca

Iain Glen and Polly Walker, Prisoners' Wives BBC1
Paul and Fran after the arson attack

However, when Pearson insists Franny accompany him during the handover, the transaction turns into a horrific ordeal for her.

It’s a powerful opening episode, and Polly Walker as Francesca and Iain Glen are brilliant as the couple trying to hold things together despite her growing disillusion with life as a prisoner/gangster’s wife. She’s come a long way from the lavish lifestyle we saw her enjoying in series one.

Sweet but daffy Harriet (Pippa Haywood) is involved in a tender, if strained, relationship with the prison chaplain, while her floundering son, Gavin, is desperate to find strength in numbers with the Muslim prisoners.

Nicola Walker in Prisoners' Wives, BBC1
Nicola Walker as DCI Fontaine

Has Kim’s husband been fitted up for a sex crime?
Kim’s storyline is another emotionally strong one, with Mick, her husband (and father of their three boys), accused of a sex crime and locked up pending trial. Has he been set up by the dysfunctional family that live next door?

The cast is further boosted by Nicola Walker as the detective circling Franny and Paul, and Anne Reid turns up as the seedy, fag-smoking accountant that Paul lines up to help his wife.

The stories are based on real-life accounts, and the charity Partners of Prisoners helps to keep the scripts realistic.

Prisoners’ Wives may be a low-key success, but its fine cast and terrific, human interest stories make it one of the most compelling dramas around.

Cast: Sally Carman Kim Haines, Polly Walker Fran Miller, Karla Crome Aisling O’Connor, Pippa Haywood Harriet Allison, Ben Batt Danny, Tony Bell DS Hagen, Jorden Bennie Jaiden, David Bradley Frank, Sally Carman Kim Hall, Enzo Cilenti Mick, Paul David-Gough Chris, Phoebe Dynevor Lauren, Laura Frances-Morgan DS Sankey, Adam Gillen Gavin, Iain Glen Paul, Munir Khairdin Imam, Callum Lambert Jack, Joshua Lambert Charlie, Emma Matthews Vicky, Harry McEntire Matt, Jack Mitchell Reece, Osi Okerafor Ben Ballo, Chris Overton Blake Fenner, Gary Overton Stan, Anne Reid Margaret, Owen Roe Brendan, Nicola Walker DCI Jo Fontaine, Stuart Wolfenden Liam

Follow @crimetimeprev

Murder: Joint Enterprise, BBC2, starring Karla Crome and Robert Pugh PREVIEW

BBC2 Joe Dempsie, Karla Crome
Stefan and Coleen – did they act together in killing Erin? Pics: BBC

Rating: ★★★★½ 

BBC2: Sunday, 26 August, 10pm

Story: A woman lies dead in a Nottingham flat, her terrified sister barricaded in the bathroom. At 2am a young man in a bloodstained shirt is pulled over for speeding. The three only met that afternoon – what happened in those fatal hours? All there is to go on is what the two survivors say.

Birger Larsen, who called the shots on The Killing, came to the UK to direct this documentary-style murder drama that is bold, messy and totally compelling.

The hour-long narrative delving into the death of Erin at the Nottingham flat she shared with her sister, Coleen, is fragmentary, told to camera by those involved in the case in conflicting and self-serving statements. as well as in flashbacks, CCTV footage, family snapshots and evidence photos.

Erin is killed with an Amaretto bottle
It’s messy because real life is messy, and the script by Robert Jones resoundingly exposes the fallacy of most TV crime shows with their neat denouements. Murder: Joint Enterprise taxes the viewer by forcing you to try to locate the truth in what unfolds.

BBC2 Stephen Dillane
Raglin, the prosecution QC outlines his tactics

At first, it seems clear cut. Erin and Coleen are out at a snooker hall when they meet Stefan, who barges his way back to their flat. Coleen says she felt threatened by the pushy young man and that he killed Erin while she was locked in the bathroom. Stefan is arrested later that evening while driving Erin’s car, and has her blood on him. Erin was battered with an Amaretto bottle.

The case is not as clear as it first appears
But by day two of the investigation, the story shifts. Erin and Coleen, abandoned nine years before by their mother, often fought. Was there some sexual rivalry between the sisters with Stefan back at the flat. What was the role of Coleen’s boyfriend, Heskett Jupp, in what happened.

And while Stefan admits he’s ‘done stuff’, he denies murder. The past histories of Stefan and the sisters clearly impacts on their present day lives and hang-ups, and Robert Jones’s script – which he says was the hardest he’s ever written – sensitively explores their backgrounds, particularly the trauma caused by the sisters being deserted by their mother.

Coleen says of the time after she was taken into care, ‘There’s something about being locked out of your own flat and looking in. It’s like being dead.’

Claire Rushbrook
Claire Rushbrook as mum Ellen

We only briefly see the characters interacting, and that’s a CCTV glimpse of Coleen and her mother. But the truth slowly comes into focus as the twisting trial of Stefan and Coleen proceeds and then a final revealing flashback gives us the full, disconcerting picture.

It’s a haunting, atmospheric and affecting hour, brilliantly acted and directed. And unlike most mainstream dramas, it packs an ending that sticks in your mind for some time after. Terrific.

Cast: Karla Crome Coleen, Joe Dempsie Stefan, Stephen Dillane Raglin, Robert Pugh DI Sheehy, Claire Rushbrook Ellen, Lara Rossi Erin, Darren Campbell Heskett Jupp, Lauren Socha Deena, Kate Donnelly Pathologist

 Follow @crimetimeprev

%d bloggers like this: