Gillian Anderson in The Fall, Danny Miller joins Scott & Bailey, Win a Mayday DVD

• Here’s a glimpse of Gillian Anderson as DSI Stella Gibson, who will we see this year in BBC2’s The Fall. The series is set in Northern Ireland and will see Anderson’s character, who is on secondment from the London Met, called in to track down a serial killer who is terrorising Belfast. Jamie Dornan will play Paul Spector, the murderer.

• Former Emmerdale and Lightfields star Danny Miller will be joining Scott & Bailey on 24 April (pictured below). His character, DS Rob Waddington, is set to shake up things for Janet (Lesley Joseph) and Rachel (Suranne Jones), particularly Janet. She’s been filling in for months as acting detective sergeant, only to see Rob the young high-flyer nip in and take the job. ‘He’s learning on the job,’ Danny says. ‘Janet takes him under her wing and he appreciates her experience and intelligence. He doesn’t like confrontation and would rather sit down and work things out. Yet when he has to put his foot down, he will.’ Though S&B has been terrific, the male characters have all been either stupid, pathetic or lecherous. It will be interesting to see if Rob breaks the mould. And, when Janet and Rachel fall out later in the series, will Janet be able to turn to the younger man for advice?

It’s the Bafta TV Awards on 12 May at London’s Royal Festival Hall and there are some terrific crime dramas in the running. CrimeTimePreview will be cheering on Sean Bean and Stephen Graham, who were bold and brilliant in the first episode of the Accused series, Tracie’s Story, in which Bean played spectacularly against type as a transvestite in love. Sheridan Smith (Mrs Biggs) and Sienna Miller (The Girl) are among those scrapping for Leading Actress. Olivia Colman, who could probably be nominated for everything she’s in at the moment (particularly Broadchurch), is up for Supporting Actress in Accused. Scott & Bailey and Ripper Street are chasing Best Drama Series (surely Scott & Bailey is better). And a particular favourite at CrimeTimePreview HQ from 2012 was Murder, which is up for Best Single Drama. Directed by The Killing‘s Birger Larsen for BBC2, this was a gripping depiction of the messiness and ambiguities involved in a murder case. See Bafta’s full nomination list.

• It’s competition time! The first three crime TV fans who become a member of the CrimeTimePreview gang (see the column right), will receive copies of the sinister thriller series Mayday. The complete series of the BBC drama starring Peter Firth and Sophie Okonedo was released this week, costing £19.99. It was written by the team responsible for that other creepy detective series Whitechapel, Ben Court and Caroline Ip, and told the story of the residents of a small town coping with the disappearance of a teenager who was supposed to head the Mayday parade. The woods outside of the town are menacing, while several residents have secrets to hide. So what happened to the May Queen? The DVD’s special features include The Making of Mayday, Cast Filmographies and a Picture Gallery. 
This offer is open to UK residents only. The first three people who become Members of CrimeTimePreview (Join this site, column, right) will be posted free copies of Mayday. The selectees will need to provide their postal address. Deadline: Saturday, 20 April. No prize alternatives. If anyone registers but declines the Mayday DVD, an alternative winner will be selected.

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2012’s ten best crime shows

Here’s CrimeTimePreview‘s rundown of 2012 crime series that held a gun to our head and demanded to be watched. The year saw the usual mix of the good (below), the bad (Silent Witness) and the plodding (Midsomer Murders, Lewis). But there were others that were excellent – Sebastian Bergman, Elementary, Southland, Restless – that couldn’t be fit into this Top 10. Anyone who doesn’t agree with this selection is welcome, of course, to fire away in the comment box below. In the meantime, there are some terrific new series to look forward to in 2013. Happy viewing!

Damian Lewis and Claire Danes

Channel 4
The first series is the one I’m talking about here (series two stretched the premise to breaking point). This succeeded as a thriller by depicting interesting, flawed characters in Brodie, the returning war ‘hero’, and Carrie, the damaged CIA operative who was made to look a fool but was right about Brodie all along. Claire Danes was terrific, nearly matched by Damian Lewis, but all the characters’ storylines – with the performances of David Harewood and Mandy Patinkin standing out – made it a drama packed with tension and lives on the edge.

The Bridge
Sofia Helin as Saga Norén, Kim Bodnia as Martin Rohde in The BridgeBBC4
Gave us the most unforgettable character of 2012 in the high-functioning but socially disastrous Saga Norén, played by Sofia Helin. The story began hauntingly with the discovery of a body on the international border on Oresund Bridge between Sweden and Denmark. While this was yet another story about an ingenious and implausibly elusive killer (The Killing 3 had the same kind of unbelievably omnipotent evil-doer), it was the story of the Swedish Saga and her irresponsible Danish counterpart Martin Rohde that made this so intriguing and fresh. A second series should appear in late 2013, while the Americans – of course – are doing a version that kicks off on a bridge between Mexico and the US.

Sofie Gråbøl as Sarah Lund in The Killing series 3 BBC4

The Killing 3
Farewell, Sarah Lund. You departed in style, if a little hurriedly, but what a way to go. Self-destructive as ever, you managed to take the law into your own hands with some vigilante justice for the evil Reinhardt and destroy your own happiness at the same time. What a woman! Series one remains the best, despite all its irritating red herrings, but The Killing 2 and 3 maintained levels of depth and ambition rarely seen from the Beeb or ITV.

Shaun Evans as Morse in Endeavour ITV1

A pilot prequel that fleshed out the Inspector Morse legend intelligently and entertainingly – and had the desired effect of leading to a series commission (watch out for four 120-minute episodes in 2013). Shaun Evans was the young Morse was charismatic and suitably introspective, and the investigation into the disappearance of a teenage girl was powerful, while also offering insights into events that moulded the detective. Roger Allam was excellent as Morse’s boss, Thursday.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in Sherlock 2 BBC1

Sherlock 2
Wit, mystery and sumptuous performances – the second series was must-see television, and finished with a mighty cliffhanger as social media went into a flutter about Sherlock’s apparent death plunge in The Reichenbach Fall. The series also gave us The Hounds of Baskerville and A Scandal in Belgravia, featuring a tantalising Lara Pulver as Irene Adler. In a year that saw a good American rehash of the Beeb’s contemporary take on Holmes – Elementary with Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu – Sherlock still easily out-dazzled the upstart.

Walton Goggins, Timothy Olyphant in Justified

Justified 3
Most UK viewers have not discovered Justified, which is tucked away on 5USA, but it is a hidden gem. Based on stories by the superb Elmore Leonard, the series takes us into Kentucky and the law-enforcement world of trigger-happy deputy US Marshal Raylan Givens, played with panache by Timothy Olyphant. The third series was another corker and gave us a fresh gallery of nasty rogues, including the butcher Limehouse and the sexual sadist Quarles. Leonard ranks this as one of the best adaptations of his books, and that includes Get Shorty, Jackie Brown and Out of Sight. Watch out for series four.

Good Cop
Finishing on a rather oblique note – with Sav going into the sea and apparently surrendering to the waves – was a mark of how mature and deeply felt this drama was. It spurned stupid plot twists to zoom in on the human drama, that of the good man who finds himself doing bad things. At first the audience may have cheered him when he turned vigilante, but by the end he had gone off the rails.
A powerful story of a man surrounded by people – ailing dad, female police partner, lover – but emotionally stranded, having ruined his chance of happiness with the mother of his daughter. The acting was brilliant and affecting, the Liverpool setting was fresh and interesting, and the story unforgettable. It should be the making of Warren Brown as a leading man.

Kelly Macdonald and Steve Buscemi in Boardwalk Empire 3

Boardwalk Empire 3
Sky Atlantic
British TV can only dream of making a crime drama on this scale. The cast, the stunning period production and the writing put it in a league of its own. The story of Prohibition-era Atlantic City and its corrupt county treasurer Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) reached 1923, when our antihero was balancing a mistress and wife, and his political and criminal empires. Fictional and real historical figures – Al Capone, Arnold Rothstein, Lucky Luciano – were joined in this series by the new psychotic Sicilian in town, the fictional Gyp Rosetti. The series reached a spectacular gang war climax and was, as it has been from the start, fascinating and unforgettable.

Murder: Joint Enterprise
Channel 4
I’ve included this because it was a fresh drama that explored the messiness of crime and the difficulty of  finding the truth behind it – and here the police fail and the wrong person is convicted. Birger Larsen, the director of The Killing, hauntingly portrayed Nottingham with an outsider’s eye, in a story that blitzed the fallacy of so many cop shows with their neat solutions. Karla Crome and Joe Dempsie were first-rate as the pair caught in a nasty tussle of guilt and accusation.

Accused 2
Writer Jimmy McGovern attracts the best actors to his stories of injustice and moral dilemmas. This second series of one-off dramas started boldly with Sean Bean in stilettos as a transvestite whose love for a married man (played by Stephen Graham) ends in horror. Anne-Marie Duff, Olivia Colman, Sheridan Smith, Ewen Bremner and Anna Maxwell Martin all featured in dramas that were unsentimental but full of surprises and sharply depicted characters. Engrossing and thought-provoking.

Pics: BBC, ITV, C4, C5, BSkyB

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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

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