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…]

Chasing Shadows, ITV, Reece Shearsmith, Alex Kingston PREVIEW

ITV Chasing Shadows REECE SHEARSMITH as DS Sean Stone, ALEX KINGSTON as Ruth Hattersley and NOEL CLARKE as DCI Carl Prior
Chasing Shadows with Noel Clarke, Reece Shearsmith and Alex Kingston. Pics: ITV

Rating: ★★★

ITV: starts Thursday, 4 September, 9pm

Story: Detective sergeant Sean Stone is sidelined into the Missing Persons Bureau, where he works alongside analyst Ruth Hattersley in trying to spot those missing people who may be prone to fall victim to serial killers.

THE INFLUENCE of the Nordic invasion continues. First there was Saga Noren in The Bridge, now we have DS Sean Stone in ITV’s new crime series, Chasing Shadows. He’s well-named because he has the charm and appeal of a pebble.

Like Saga, Sean – played by Reece Shearsmith – is socially awkward, unable to lie and a misfit. Cue raised eyebrows, outraged expressions from people he meets, and a furious boss.

It is Sean’s inability to massage the facts at a press conference, during which he suggests a murder victim could have been saved, that prompts his guvnor to boot him out of his job and into Missing Persons.

Sean – quirky and annoying

Here almost the first thing he says to his new colleague, analyst Ruth Hattersley (Alex Kingston), is

REECE SHEARSMITH as DS Sean Stone
Loner – DS Sean Stone (Reece Shearsmith)

‘Are you married?’ Ruth is flummoxed. Then he insists they drive to meetings in separate cars because he ‘likes to think’.

You get the picture. Sean is quirky, wacky and pretty annoying.

Saga is not annoying. This is because she is a more rounded character, rather than a collection of traits.

Disobeying instructions

This four-parter is one of those shows where you kind of know what they were trying to do, but don’t pull it off. Sean is constantly charging off on his own, disobeying instructions and rubbing everyone up the wrong way. He’s a one-dimensional hero.

It is also unbelievable that someone this professionally and socially grating would be left to blunder around jeopardising investigations and offending everyone – ‘I don’t need your help,’ he tells Ruth. His new boss DI Prior (Noel Clarke) is also on the warpath.

Saga Noren is abrupt and socially inept, particularly with grieving relatives, but she is adored by viewers because, though flawed, her personal struggle and shortcomings make her hugely appealing.

Serial killers or multiple murderers?

Protagonists who are brilliant oddballs do work when well created, such as the ‘high-functioning

REECE SHEARSMITH as DS Sean Stone and ELLIOTT TITTENSOR as John Meadows. Chasing Shadows ITV
On the hunt – Sean is shown round an abandoned building

sociopath’ Sherlock, or obsessive-compulsive Monk, or that blunt scalpel House.

In fairness, the opening 45 minutes of Chasing Shadows covers a lot of story – particularly, the hunt for a missing teenage girl, Taylor, who may have been targeted by a killer – so that Sean is barely developed and one dimensional.

He does seem to have a carer at home to help him, but no sooner have we met her than we’re being taken through a disused buildings on the trail of killers and bodies.

The most intriguing part of the premise is Sean Stone’s determination to look for patterns, with which he is obsessed, in the profiles of the mis-pers (missing persons to you) to see if they were vulnerable to serial killers. Or multiple killers, as Sean prefers to call them – they’re ‘not fascinating, evil geniuses’, he says, they’re the opportunistic killer next door.

This is a refreshing break from the tedious Hannibal Lecter fixation of many serial killer stories. It would be great if writer Rob Williams were able to develop this side of the drama, along with Sean’s character. There are just three episodes to go.

Cast: Reece Shearsmith DS Sean Stone, Alex Kingston Ruth Hattersley, Noel Clarke DI Prior

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