Crime series rule at 2015’s Baftas

Happy Valley series 1 BBC1

Siobhan Finneran and Sarah Lancashire in Happy Valley

CRIME certainly pays on TV. Mysteries and thrillers dominate this year’s Bafta nominations, with Happy Valley, Line of Duty, The Missing, Peaky Blinders, Sherlock and The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies all featuring.

These were all engrossing, first-class dramas, with some of the actors involved giving the performances of their lives. Keeley Hawes and Sarah Lancashire were simply superb in Line of Duty – which was better in its second series – and Happy Valley, and both are nominated. Georgina Campbell also put in a stand-out performance in BBC3’s Murdered by My Boyfriend.

Benedict Cumberbatch will hope it is fifth-time lucky at Bafta as he steps onto the red carpet again for his performance as Sherlock. The BBC1 modern reboot of the consulting detective is a dazzlingly good drama, though not nominated this time. Cumberbatch is in the running, however, but he faces formidable competition from nominees James Nesbitt – another lifetime-best performance for The Missing – Toby Jones (Marvellous) and Jason Watkins (The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies).

The Missing series 1 BBC1

James Nesbitt in The Missing

Choosing the ‘best’ is a thankless task, but my personal faves this year are Sarah Lancashire (by a whisker over Keeley Hawes), James Nesbitt – an actor I don’t usually warm to, but this was a brave performance. Then there’s Ken Stott for the same reason in The Missing, and perhaps Charlotte Spencer for Glue.

I also thoroughly enjoyed Peaky Blinders, and in the International category I would probably go for True Detective, though I am slightly addicted to The Good Wife.

Who do you think should win? Post your comments above…

DRAMA SERIES

HAPPY VALLEY Sally Wainwright, Karen Lewis, Euros Lyn, Nicola Shindler, Red Production Company/BBC One; LINE OF DUTY Jed Mercurio, Simon Heath, Peter Norris, Douglas Mackinnon, World Productions/BBC Two; THE MISSING Charlie Pattinson, Willow Grylls, Jack Williams, Harry Williams, New Pictures/BBC One; PEAKY BLINDERS Production Team – Caryn Mandabach Productions/Tiger Aspect Productions/BBC Two

LEADING ACTOR

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH Sherlock, BBC One; TOBY JONES Marvellous, BBC Two; JAMES NESBITT The Missing, BBC One JASON WATKINS The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies ITV

LEADING ACTRESS

Keeley Hawes in Line of Duty 2

Keeley Hawes in Line of Duty 2

GEORGINA CAMPBELL Murdered by My Boyfriend, BBC Three; KEELEY HAWES Line of Duty, BBC Two; SARAH LANCASHIRE Happy Valley, BBC One; SHERIDAN SMITH Cilla, ITV

SUPPORTING ACTOR

ADEEL AKHTAR Utopia – Channel 4 JAMES NORTON Happy Valley, BBC One; STEPHEN REA The Honourable Woman, BBC Two; KEN STOTT The Missing – BBC One

SUPPORTING ACTRESS

GEMMA JONES Marvellous, BBC Two; VICKY MCCLURE Line of Duty, BBC Two; AMANDA REDMAN Tommy Cooper: Not like That, Like This, ITV; CHARLOTTE SPENCER Glue, E4

SINGLE DRAMA

A POET IN NEW YORK Aisling Walsh, Ruth Caleb, Andrew Davies, Griff Rhys Jones, Modern Television/BBC Two; COMMON Jimmy McGovern, David Blair, Colin McKeown, Donna Molloy, LA Productions/BBC One; MARVELLOUS Peter Bowker, Julian Farino, Katie Swinden, Patrick Spence, Fifty Fathoms/BBC Two; MURDERED BY MY BOYFRIEND Pier Wilkie, Regina Moriarty, Paul Andrew Williams, Darren Kemp – BBC/BBC Three

MINI-SERIES

Jason Watkins in The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies

Jason Watkins in The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies

CILLA Jeff Pope, Paul Whittington, Kwadjo Dajan, Robert Willis, ITV Studios/GroupM Entertainment/ITV; THE LOST HONOUR OF CHRISTOPHER JEFFERIES Gareth Neame, Peter Morgan, Roger Michell, Kevin Loader, Carnival Film & Television/ITV; OUR WORLD WAR Production Team – BBC Factual/BBC Three PREY Chris Lunt, Nicola Shindler, Tom Sherry, Nick Murphy, Red Production Company/ITV

INTERNATIONAL

THE GOOD WIFE CBS Television Studios in assoc. with Scott Free/King Size Prods/More4; HOUSE OF CARDS Beau Willimon, David Fincher, Joshua Donen, Kevin Spacey – Donen/Fincher/Roth and Trigger Street Productions, Inc. in assoc. with Media Rights Capital/Netflix; ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK Jenji Kohan, Lisa I.Vinnecour, Sara Hess, Sian Heder – Lionsgate Television/Netflix; TRUE DETECTIVE Nic Pizzolatto, Cary Joji Fukunaga, Scott Stephens, Steve Golin – HBO Entertainment in assoc. with Neon Black, Anonymous Content, Parliament of Owls and Passenger/ Sky Atlantic

Crime Thriller Award winners 2014 – best crime fiction and TV shows of the year

Here are the results of tonight’s 2014 Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards.

CrimeTimePreview predicted all the correct winners apart from one – that was Keeley Hawes nabbing Best Actress over Sarah Lancashire. Still, Keeley Hawes put in a terrific performance in Line of Duty 2 and deserves the plaudits.

James Norton also won his first ever award for his chilling portrayal in Happy Valley. Here are the winners in full…

Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards Winners are:

Keeley Hawes for Line of Duty – Dagger for Best Actress

Matthew McConaughey for True Detective – Dagger for Best Actor

James Norton for Happy Valley – Dagger for Best Supporting Actor

Amanda Abbington for Sherlock – Dagger for Best Supporting Actress

Happy Valley – Dagger for Best TV Series

Actor James Norton before Crime Thriller Awards 2014
James Norton being interviewed before the awards

True Detective – Dagger for Best International TV Series

Cold in July – Dagger for Best Film

Peter May – Crime Thriller Book Club Best Read of the Year

Wiley Cash – CWA Goldsboro Gold Dagger

Ray Celestin – CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger

Robert Harris – CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for Best Thriller of the Year

Denise Mina, Robert Harris and Midsomer Murders were inducted into the Hall of Fame

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Line of Duty 2, BBC2, with Martin Compston, Vicky McClure, Adrian Dunbar, Keeley Hawes PREVIEW

Detective Sergeant Steve Arnott (MARTIN COMPSTON), Detective Inspector Lindsay Denton (KEELEY HAWES), Detective Constable Kate Fleming (VICKY McCLURE) in Line of Duty, BBC
In the spotlight – Denton (Keeley Hawes) is monitored by Arnott (Martin Compston) and Fleming (Vicky McClure). Pics: BBC

Rating: ★★★★

BBC2: starts Wednesday, 12 February, 9pm

Story: A police convoy is ambushed and three officers are killed and a witness seriously injured. When evidence suggests that a police source may have leaked the convoy’s whereabouts, suspicion arises that the sole surviving police officer, Detective Inspector Lindsay Denton, could be the prime suspect. 

LENNIE JAMES put in a blistering performance in series one as the detective chief inspector under scrutiny for corruption. The success of this follow-up series will also depend on the new cop under the spotlight being as slippery and intriguing an adversary for the anti-corruption unit AC-12.

On hearing that the role is being played by Keeley Hawes, you might think she’s too glam, too

Detective Inspector Lindsay Denton (KEELEY HAWES) in Line  of Duty, BBC
Victim or perpetrator? DI Lindsay Denton

lightweight to cut it as a hardened cop scrapping for survival in the shark-infested police hierarchy.

But, actually, she’s a revelation here. Forget all her larking about in Ashes to Ashes and dressing up in Upstairs Downstairs. She’s discarded some of the make-up, dresses down a bit and really keeps the viewer on their toes in a terrific opening episode.

Suspicion falls on Keeley Hawes’s detective inspector

It bursts into life with a tense sequence in which her character, Detective Inspector Lindsay Denton, is improvising a highly dangerous and hastily thrown together transfer of a witness from one compromised hide-out to another location.

When the police convoy is ambushed on a quiet back road, with three officers being brutally killed and the witness badly injured, it seems a fair guess that someone leaked the convoy’s route. Suspicion falls on the lone police survivor of the disaster – DI Denton.

A car in a police convoy is set alight by a masked person in Line of Duty, BBC2
The brutal ambush by masked gunmen

The injured inspector is initially vulnerable, ostracised by colleagues and superiors on her return to duty. There is a shocking scene on her first day back when the officers inflict a brutal welcome on her in the Ladies.

Martin Compston, Vicky McClure and Adrian Dunbar return

And then AC-12 use an interview with her to make veiled accusations that she may have been behind the leak. Martin Compston, Vicky McClure and Adrian Dunbar revisit their roles as Arnott, Fleming and Hastings, with Hastings as the smiling inquisitor – to the discomfort of Arnott and his new colleague DC Trotman (Jessica Raine). He tells Denton she was a ‘desk destective’, implying she was out of her depth on this frontline operation.

But the series writer and creator, Jed Mercurio, gives us glimpses of another side to Denton that keep us wondering about her role in the ambush. He also develops the characters of the AC-10 officers further while creating a web of ambitions and dodgy goings-on that make it difficult for viewers to know who to side with.

Superintendent Ted Hastings (ADRIAN DUNBAR), Detective Sergeant Steve Arnott (MARTIN COMPSTON), Detective Constable Kate Fleming (VICKY McCLURE) in Line of Duty, BBC2
Watching the detectives – Hastings, Arnott and Fleming

The opening episode combines pacey storytelling with interesting, believable characters in addition to an explosive end. I felt series one started well and became a bit lurid as it went on.

But if series two keeps up the terrific quality of episode one, it will put even Lennie James and his series in the shade.

Cast: Keeley Hawes Detective Inspector Lindsay Denton, Martin Compston Detective Sergeant Steve Arnott, Vicky McClure Detective Constable Kate Fleming, Adrian Dunbar Superintendent Ted Hastings, Mark Bonnar Deputy Chief Constable Mike Dryden, Jessica Raine Detective Constable Georgia Trotman

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The Lady Vanishes BBC1, with Tuppence Middleton, Tom Hughes PREVIEW

Iris Carr (TUPPENCE MIDDLETON), Max (TOM HUGHES) in The Lady Vanishes, BBC
Going loco? Iris (Tuppence Middleton) and Max (Tom Hughes). Pics: BBC

Rating: ★★★½

BBC1: Sunday, 17 March, 8.30pm

Story: Wealthy young socialite Iris Carr breaks off from a holiday with friends in the Balkans and decides to return home on her own. Having collapsed with what appears to be sunstroke at a train station, she is then befriended and helped by kindly governess Miss Froy. However, when Miss Froy disappears from their carriage, all the other passengers insist there was no Miss Froy on the train and that Iris must have imagined her…

Does anyone read Ethel Lina White’s crime novels these days? She was popular during the 1930s, and three of her books were made into films, two largely forgotten (The Spiral Staircase, 1975, and The Unseen, 1945), while the third, The Wheel Spins, became Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes (1938).

The tale of jolly spiffing Brits abroad in a Croatia full of shifty foreigners where a young socialite gets caught up in a dastardly plot is terribly, terribly old-fashioned, but the project clearly has two big pluses for BBC bosses. It’s a period piece and TV adores period dramas (Father Brown, Marple, Downton Abbey etc). And it’s got shades of Hitchcock, with the Master of Suspense being everywhere just now, from tales of his lustful abuse (BBC2s The Girl) to the making of Psycho (Anthony Hopkins in Hitchcock).

Miss Froy (SELINA CADELL), Iris Carr (TUPPENCE MIDDLETON) in The Lady Vanishes, BBC
The mysterious Miss Froy and Iris

Tuppence Middleton as Iris
This new version is not a remake of the film, of course, which would be suicidal, particularly as the original – clunky as it may be – is still cited by authorities such as critic Philip French as a favourite comic thriller.

Newcomer Tuppence Middleton and Tom Hughes step into the shoes of Margaret Lockwood and a bow-tied Michael Redgrave in a return to original novel, which drops Hitchcock’s light-hearted comic touch and the espionage angle, for an attempt to recapture something of the book’s nightmarish premise of a young woman whose sanity is called into question.

Middleton shows some star quality as the spoilt, headstrong socialite Iris Carr, who decides to return home to Blighty after getting sick of her frivolous set of chums while on holiday. She has what seems to be an attack of sunstroke while waiting for the train to Trieste.

Laura Parmiter (KEELEY HAWES) in the BBC's The Lady Vanishes
Laid back, but does ‘Mrs Todhunter’ have something to hide?

Miss Froy – a figment of Iris’s imagination?
An English governess befriends and helps Iris on the train, but Iris is still too nauseous to pay much attention to Miss Froy (Selina Cadell). So when Miss Froy tells Iris that she thought she had seen the brother of her employer the baroness – a sighting that might puncture his alibi for murder – Iris hardly takes the news in.

On waking from a nap, however, Iris is alarmed to discover that Miss Froy has vanished from her carriage, and the train’s other occupants, including the baroness and a creepy doctor, all claim there was never a Miss Froy on the train. It was all in Iris’s imagination.

A professor from England and his student, a dashing Tom Hughes, assist Iris by using their knowledge of the local language to quiz the travellers, but they too find Iris’s story hard to credit.

Hitchcock cameo

The Doctor (JESPER CHRISTENSEN) in the BBC's The Lady Vanishes
What’s up, doc? He suggests Iris be put in a hospital

Director Diarmuid Lawrence films this story of paranoia with flair, his camera roving round the train, and he apparently makes a Hitchcockian cameo appearance as ‘disapproving man’. The cast is also pitch perfect, with Keeley Hawes and Julian Rhind-Tutt playing an adulterous couple, and Gemma Jones and Stephanie Cole a disapproving and prim pair of snooty sisters on holiday.

Alex Jennings good as the exasperated professor, and Benedikte Hansen (who fans of Borgen will know) is a fine villain as the sinister Baroness.

Remaking well-like classic films usually results in a train wreck of a drama, failing miserably to capture any of the original’s magic, but this new Lady Vanishes is atmospheric, pretty enjoyable and succeeds on its own merits.

Cast: Tuppence Middleton Iris Carr, Benedikte Hansen The Baroness, Selina Cadell Miss Froy, Tom Hughes Max Hare, Alex Jennings The Professor, Julian Rhind-Tutt Mr Todhunter/Sir Peveril, Keeley Hawes Mrs Todhunter/Laura Parmiter, Pip Torrens Reverend Kenneth Barnes, Sandy McDade Mrs Barnes, Gemma Jones Rose Flood-Porter, Stephanie Cole Evelyn Flood-Porter, Jesper Christensen The Doctor

Read on:

BBC clips and interviews from The Lady Vanishes

Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes on YouTube

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Coming soon – The Lady Vanishes BBC1, The Americans ITV

Tuppence Middleton and Tom Hughes in The Lady Vanishes
Strangers on a train – Iris and Max. Pic: BBC

• Here’s Tuppence Middleton and Tom Hughes from the soon-to-be broadcast BBC1 remake of The Lady Vanishes, a cheeky reboot of the Alfred Hitchcock classic from 1938. This 90-minute thriller has a sparkling cast including Keeley Hawes (Ashes to Ashes), Gemma Jones (Spooks), Selina Cadell (Doc Martin), Stephanie Cole (Corrie) and Julian Rhind-Tutt (The Hour), and is likely to be shown in March, having originally been slated for Christmas.

Like Hitchcock’s film, this is based on the novel The Wheel Spins by British writer Ethel Lina White. Middleton plays Iris, the young socialite who, in 1931, is on holiday in the Balkans when she encounters Miss Froy on a train. Miss Froy tells her she is desperate to get home. After Iris wakes from a sleep, she finds Miss Froy has disappeared and her fellow passengers deny the old lady ever existed.

The new adaptation is by Fiona Seres, who also wrote The Silence. BBC drama boss Kate Harwood says, ‘Fiona’s adaptation of The Wheel Spins deftly weaves together the intriguing stories of a psychologically complex group of characters – with the mysterious disappearance of Miss Froy on a packed train – played out against the tense backdrop of the Balkans in the 1930s. I am delighted with the incredible cast and crew we have assembled for the project. The Lady Vanishes will be a thrilling treat for BBC One audiences.’

Also appearing alongside young stars Tuppence Middleton, recently seen in Spies of Warsaw, and Tom Hughes (Cemetery Junction), will be Danish actors Benedikte Hansen (Borgen) and Jesper Christensen (Melancholia).

Hitchcock’s film was a delightful mix of wit and intrigue, and helped to build his reputation to the point that Hollywood would come calling. Will 2013’s version be as entertaining – or will it quickly disappear like the now forgotten 1979 remake starring Elliott Gould and Cybill Shepherd?

• Meanwhile, ITV has signed new US series The Americans, starring Golden Globe winner Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys (The Scapegoat, The Mystery of Edwin Drood), another Brit headlining an American series. Where Homeland is about Islamist terrorists infiltrating the US, The Americans harks back to Soviet spying Stateside, as KGB agents played by Rhys and Russell undergo an arranged marriage and pose as an American couple in 1980s Washington. They even have two children who know nothing of their parents’ alter egos. And, wouldn’t you know it, their next door neighbour turns out to be an FBI counter-intelligence agent.

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Spooks (MI-5) – 10 reasons why we will miss it

Harry and Ruth. Pics: BBC

The Spooks of MI-5 may have survived assassination by the Taliban, Chinese agents and evil Russians, but the conniving mandarins of the BBC are much more ruthless and resourceful.

They’ve announced that series 10, starting next month, will be the last. Ben Stephenson, BBC drama controller, said (possibly while stroking a white cat), that Spooks had been a hit groundbreaking series that had helped to redefine BBC drama.

‘I would like to thank all those involved in the making of the show over the last decade both on and off screen,’ Stephenson said, ‘and hope fans will tune in this September to see what promises to be a fittingly high-octane, thrilling finale.’

This will focus on  Section D chief Harry Pearce (Peter Firth) confronting a secret from his past that could wreck him and the woman he loves, Ruth (Nicola Walker). New faces will include Lara Pulver (True Blood, Robin Hood) as new team leader Erin Watts following Lucas North’s devastating betrayal in series nine, along with Alice Krige (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Deadwood) and Jonathan Hyde (Titanic, Jumanji).

Before the final round of explosions and betrayals, here are 10 reasons why SpooksMI-5 to our American and French allies – will be sorely missed…

Lucas and Harry in series nine

1 Cracking stories
Lucas’s betrayal at the end of the last series, or the discovery that Connie was the traitor in series seven had enough gasp! factor to win the series audiences of more than six million in the UK and make it a worldwide hit in 50 countries.

2 Terrific cast
Spooks has raised the profile of stars including Matthew Macfadyen, Keeley Hawes, Rupert Penry-Jones, Richard Armitage and Hermione Norris, with guests over the years including Hugh Laurie, Lindsay Duncan, Iain Glen, Sophie Okonedo, Tim Piggott-Smith and Benedict Cumberbatch.

3 Phwoar factor
Looking glam while risking life and limb have been the likes of Keeley Hawes, Richard North, Hermione Norris, Sophia Myles, Rupert Penry-Jones and – for the more sophisticated lady – stoically lovelorn Peter Firth.

4 Absolute shockers
Whether it was Rupert Penry-Jones being blown to smithereens in the opening episode of series seven, admin officer Helen Flynn (Lisa Faulkner) killed by having her face immersed in boiling oil, or data nerd Colin (Rory MacGregor) being strung from a tree by traitorous MI6 agents, Spooks has always known how to make viewers sit up on their sofas.

5 Causing a stink
Helen Flynn’s death caused a wave of complaints to the Broadcasting Standards Commission, but the series sparked a kerfuffle at a higher level when the Chinese government reportedly lost its rag over the way its agents were portrayed as kidnappers, hackers and being ready to blow up London. Apparently, even Israeli intelligence phoned the Beeb to complain about how their operatives were depicted. Touchy.

6 Spookily ahead of the game
Following the 7/7 bombings in London in 2005, Spooks had an uncannily prescient episode ready to air that featured a terrorist bombing central London, including the real-life target of Kings Cross. The BBC considered pulling the show, but eventually settled for displaying a disclaimer warning of distressing content.

7 London
While to many Londoners the capital is a daily grind on the packed Underground or a scary place where people don’t pay for their shopping while leaving department stores through smashed front windows, in Spooks it’s a breathlessly glamorous setting with the camera whizzing across Millennium Bridge, round Canary Wharf and over the Royal Opera House (though some of the off-kilter camera angles can give you headache).

8 BBC Licence fee splashed all over the screen
Spectacular chase scenes, punch-ups, aerial shots and huge explosions – like the one that sent Ros Myers into the next world – made Spooks a tad more expensive than an episode of, say, Saturday Kitchen.

9 A pace that hurtles over gargantuan plot holes
We’ve had Russian submarines launching implausible cyber attacks to send the London financial markets into a tailspin (who needs a cyber attack?), we’ve had two MI5 agents wreaking havoc in the dark on a squad of Mossad hit men equipped with night-vision gear, Lucas going through a complete personality flip-flop to emerge as a traitor, and as for Tariq running a ‘probability algorithm’ and then some facial recognition software through hundreds of London CCTV cameras to pinpoint a foreign infiltrator in seconds… who’d have guessed they can do that?

10 The Trouble with Harry
Like Ken Barlow, Harry’s been there from the beginning, surviving death threats, kidnap, multiple betrayals and disappointment in love. At the end of series nine he was told his actions as head of counter-terrorism were being investigated and he should prepare for life after MI5. It is fitting that the character who has been the backbone of 10 action-packed series should be the focus of the final season. Given the show’s track record of having characters who are secretly traitors, it seems likely  Harry could emerge as Vladimir Putin in a rubber mask. Or that he’ll be killed. Or that he’ll walk off into the sunset with Ruth. Almost anything’s possible in Spooks.

Loss of Identity

Aidan Gillen, Keeley Hawes and the stylish Identity Unit (© ITV)

I think I’ll join the police.

Look at how buff the detectives are in Identity, and how cool the offices are that they swan about in. Nice views, sleek decor, no clutter.

And I’m sure I could handle being reprimanded by Keeley Hawes. Every day, if necessary.

It’s a long way from my days as a crime reporter on the Hackney Gazette. The local nick at Stoke Newington was a cramped Victorian building, tiny windows, smelly and full of beefy blokes whose bellies stretched their shirt buttons.

All right, I realise that these days reality is out (except on reality shows) and programme makers exaggerate the glamorous side of coppering. But I was pretty impressed with Identity when it started. A fresh crime show devoid of the usual serial killers and paedophile twists, it was inspired by real and dark incidents of identity fraud. The swanky office and beautiful police were minor distractions.

But Identity reaches the end of its first series this week and sadly it’s got a fair bit more daft. Loose cannon DI Bloom – played with verve by Aidan Gillen and easily the show’s star – was always pushing the envelope with his habit of stabbing suspects and breaking and entering as he felt like it.

But keeping a corpse in his fridge? Come on.

Writer Ed Whitmore created a series that looked very promising, having researched real-life identity crimes and created episodes in which people have stolen identities, reinvented themselves as someone they’ve murdered or exacted revenge through credit fraud and ingenious frame-ups. Very contemporary, very disturbing.

However, as regular viewers know, overshadowing all this has been Bloom’s slightly deranged attempt to work for DSI Martha Lawson (Keeley Hawes) on the Identity Unit while secretly freelancing in his old job as an undercover cop who has infiltrated a drugs gang. Hence, the stiff in the icebox.


In the finale, things really get untidy for Mr Dual Identity. His office enemy, Anthony (Shaun Parkes), knows what has displaced the milk and veg from Bloom’s fridge. 

It all gets a bit implausible. Will Bloom keep his job? Will he save his gangster moll lover? Will he forget whether he’s a crook or a cop (he has looked doubtful at times)?


I won’t spoil it, but I do hope that if the series returns it calms down a bit and gets over its identity crisis.


Monday 9 August, 9pm, ITV1

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