British crime TV favourites

UK crime drama has plenty to offer fans of drama and suspense. Here, in this guest post, is a list of three dramas that have been especially popular with viewers.

Whilst maybe not accorded the historical reverence that the noir form has enjoyed in France, UK crime drama is no less incredibly storied, going all the way back to Dixon of Dock Green and continuing into the present day with fantastic programs like Broadchurch. Here are three classics…

The Bill

It’s a wrap – The Bill’s cast on its last day

A mainstay of British evening scheduling, this drama ran from 1984-2010, based around the Sun Hill police station. There’s a great combination of episode long arcs combined with more long-form storytelling that always kept viewers guessing. One of its strengths was the balance it managed to cut between telling UK crime drama stories whilst developing the character’s private lives. It was also a testing ground for British scriptwriting talent, with pretty much a who’s-who of established UK crime drama writers having penned an episode at one time or another, as pointed out in this review by Real Money Pokies.

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Peaky Blinders — Killer TV No.39

Peaky Blinders series 1 BBC
Mob-handed – Thomas Shelby and the Peaky Blinders. Pics BBC

BBC2, 2013-

‘You don’t parley when you’re on the back foot. We’ll strike a blow first.’ –Tommy Shelby
Cillian Murphy, Sam Neill, Helen McCrory, Annabelle Wallis, Iddo Goldberg, Paul Anderson, Sophie Rundle, Andy Nyman, Benjamin Zephaniah
Identikit: A gangster family clan in post-First World War Birmingham, England, are led by Tommy Shelby in a bid to expand their empire.


2013 saw three exceptional crime dramas produced by UK television – Broadchurch, The Fall and Peaky Blinders. Like the first two, the success of this epic story is down to it being the inspired project of one writer with what seems to be little buggering about from know-nothings in management. Chris Chibnall and Allan Cubitt were the masterminds behind Broadchurch and The Fall respectively, while Steve Knight based Peaky Blinders on knowledge of his hometown, Birmingham, and family tales he had heard about the Peaky Blinders, gangsters of the 1920s famed for the razors hidden in the peaks of their flat caps. ‘It’s based on real events,’ he says. ‘My parents, particularly my dad, had these tantalising memories of from when he was nine- or 10-years-old of these people. They were incredibly well-dressed, they were incredibly powerful, they had a lot of money in an area where no one had money and… they were gangsters.’ From these recollections emerges a series that is a world away from most UK crime series, with their detective/sidekicks, serial killers and cosy settings. This is gangster tale heavily influenced by American productions from Once Upon a Time In America to Boardwalk Empire, down to the rock soundtrack (Nick Cave, the White Stripes, etc), the slo-mo sequences and the Roaring Twenties styles. Thomas Shelby is a decorated combatant from the trenches,

Annabelle Wallis as Grace in Peaky Blinders series 1
Barmaid with a secret – Grace

who has returned home damaged by his war experiences. He assumes control of the family’s crime empire of illegal bookmaking and protection, bypassing his elder brother Arthur and family matriarch Aunt Polly, who ran things during the war. After Tommy takes charge of machine-guns stolen from the local BSA factory, the city is targeted by the government – and Winston Churchill – who fear the weapons may be used in an uprising, such is the level of post-war unrest. The brutal Chief Inspector Campbell (a menacing performance by Sam Neill) is summoned from Belfast to find the guns at all costs. The rivalries (particularly with gambling crime boss Billy Kimber), the lust (Tommy is lured by Irish spy Grace Burgess) and the family tensions (Tommy’s sister becomes pregnant by his one-time best friend) are played out well against the unforgettable recreation of industrial Birmingham, with its foundaries and soot and street braziers. The accents wobble, but Cillian Murphy is charismatic as Tommy, Helen McCrory has authority as Polly and Annabelle Wallis is intriguing as the beautiful but steely Grace. The cinematography is luscious, offering a vision of the period that isn’t twee window-dressing, but which instead reveals a genuine fascination for the political turmoil and social mores of a Birmingham largely forgotten (how refreshing to see Britain’s second biggest city in the spotlight). This is ambitious drama-making that is seen too seldom on play-it-safe British TV. A second season is in the pipeline for 2014.

Theme music: Red Right Hand by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Classic episode: The story comes nicely to the boil in episode three, when Tommy’s wartime trauma is revealed (he was deployed in tunnelling under the Germans), and despite his cold exterior he seems to be warming to the woman sent to spy on him, Grace.

Watercooler fact: New Zealander Sam Neill is particularly convincing with the difficult Ulster accent because he was actually born in Northern Ireland.

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Best Crime Dramas of 2013

1 Breaking Bad

The series that was a hit by virtue of word-of-mouth rather than huge ratings or, in the UK, even being

broadcast by a national channel. In the US, of course, makers AMC showed it, but in the Britain such was the anticipation for the concluding fifth series of Walter White’s journey from decent chemistry teacher to methamphetamine-manufacturing gangster and all-round monster that Netflix showed it soon after its US broadcast. With powerful performances from Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn, Aaron Paul and Dean Norris, BB became a cultural phenomenon, setting the social networking world alight and taking up acres of print columns. It was at times surreal, dark, horrific, hilarious, tense, but always compelling. In terms of ambition and daring, it was a series that showed the best US television is in a different league to British drama.


This was a labour of love for writer Chris Chibnall, a series he wrote on spec, without commission, because he had the itch to do it. Which suggests that tinkering from executives at ITV was kept to a minimum and the eight-part series flouished as a gripping, character-rich series. Terrific writing and a great cast – David Tennant, Olivia Colman, Jodie Whittaker, Andrew Buchan among them – lifted this way above your average whodunit. Chibnall is now writing a new version for American TV with David Tennant again starring, and Broadchurch 2 will hit ITV probably some time in 2015.

3 The Fall

Another series that was the inspiration of one writer. Allan Cubitt worked hard to create a chilling, realistic serial killer for this five-parter, and Paul Spector (played with icy menace by Jamie Dornan) was unforgettable. The character was far more compelling than the ludicrous genius killer cliches of the Hannibal Lecter type, Spector being a normal family man in a caring profession (grief counsellor) whose secret obsession was murdering women. Gillian Anderson was formidable as the detective who could match his calculating precision and managed to close in on the killer in a cliffhanger ending that will see the series make a much-anticipated return.

Peaky Blinders

Quite a few ‘historical’ dramas like to use ‘period’ as a way to pretty-up a series. Shows such as The Tudors and even Downton Abbey are not overly concerned with getting under the skin of the past. But Peaky Blinders takes its setting and time seriously, and is fascinated by the inter-war era of gangs in Birmingham. It merged a little known true story with a tense drama, as Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) tried to build a seriously powerful crime empire in the face of gang rivals and the scary Inspector Campbell (Sam Neill). The drama looked stunning too, and has deservedly been commissioned for a second series.


Channel 4
Utopia was different. In a sea of costume crime dramas and whodunits (Foyle’s War, Marple, Poirot, Ripper Street, WPC 56, Father Brown etc etc etc), it stood out. A conspiracy hidden in a graphic novel and a flood of conspiracies designed to hide a real conspiracy certainly grabbed the attention. It was quirky and scary, but kept most of us intrigued through its six episodes. Neil Maskell certainly arrived on the TV radar with his performance as the torturing psycho Paul, and the whole cast – Fiona O’Shaughnessy, Alexandra Roach, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett and Adeel Akhtar – kept the drama sparking along. With dramas such as Utopia and Southcliffe, C4 offered something fresh and distinctive this year.

Justified 4

This year’s season revolved around a rather garbled storyline that was pretty hard to make sense of, kicking off with a prologue about a guy with a defective parachute plummeting to earth and landing with bags of cocaine and an ID for ‘Waldo Truth’. This McGuffin tied-in mafia figures, Raylan’s father, a snake-handling preacher and Wynn Duffy. Despite the messy story arc, on a week-to-week basis, deputy US marshal and cowboy-hat wearer Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) still gave good value for money. The character was the creation, of course, of Elmore Leonard, who sadly passed away in August, aged 87. He left behind some wonderful novels, and this sharp, cool TV series, which has been recommissioned for a fifth series. When so many mainstream US crime series are obsessed with forensic porn and buff model cops, it’s a joy to take the back roads of Kentucky for a sassy, gritty crime saga.


Fox UK
It’s a wrap for Dex, one of the most audacious and subversive dramas yet to emerge during the TV renaissance that’s occurred since the late 1990s and the arrival of the US subscription channels – HBO, Fox, Showtime and AMC. Getting us on the side of a serial killer was a spectacular trick to pull off, but we were there with Dexter Morgan as he duelled with other killers, maintained his front as a blood-spatter analyst for Miami Metro Police, and tried to be a brother to cop sister Debs. This was a high-wire act for the character and the writers, and in seeking to close the drama (Debra dies and Dexter fakes his own suicide) the show polarised fans. But it was still a stunning, if bloody, series, and Michael C Hall and Jennifer Carpenter were compelling to the end.


The Inspector Morse spin-off prequel capitalised on its hugely successful pilot by becoming a character-driven series that remained true to the original. Everyone remembers John Thaw’s grumpy, lonely older Morse, but here we got an insight into how he grew into that person by watching Shaun Evans’s gifted, stand-offish younger detective. The cases were suitably challenging as brainteasers for our hero, and the cast, particularly Roger Allam and Anton Lesser, brought the drama alive. A new series is on the way.


Sky Atlantic
A bloody, racing, furiously aggressive show with a crazy premise that was nevertheless addictive viewing for anyone who can’t bear cosy mysteries in period costumes or anything resembling a traditional police procedural. Antony Starr is ‘Lucas Hood’ – we never learn his real name – who leaves prison and is immediately on the run from the Russian mobsters he betrayed. He finds himself in Banshee, an Amish town, looking for the beauty with whom he stole the Russians’ diamonds, Anatasia (Ivana Milicevic). The opportunity presents itself for our man to assume the identity of the new sheriff in town, who conveniently is killed in a bar brawl before he can officially take the post. It’s filled with great characters, sex, violence that is wince-inducing and preposterous, and rounded off with a great finale. Fortunately, there’s more to come with a new series for 2014.

10 Arne Dahl

Nordic noir continued to cast its spell in the shape of this Swedish crime thriller about an elite team of detectives. It was a shift away from the angst-riven brilliance of Sarah Lund in The Killing towards a more mainstream cop series of the kind made in the US and Britain. But this series, based on Jan Arnald’s novels, had a cast of interesting characters and an intriguing and tense conspiracy to explore.

Series that were worth investigating but failed to make the Top 10: Scott & Bailey, Spiral, Sons of Anarchy, The Americans, Young Montalbano, Top Boy 2, The Great Train Robbery, Lucan, Top of the Lake, Montalbano, The Tunnel, Boardwalk Empire 4, Law & Order: UK

Series that never proved their cases beyond reasonable doubt: The Ice Cream Girls, Mayday, Foyle’s War, Prisoners’ Wives, Hannibal, The Following, Life of Crime, Mad Dogs 3, The Suspicions of Mr Whicher 2, Luther 3, What Remains, Vera 3, Southcliffe, New Tricks, Bates Motel, Case Histories 2, The Guilty, Wentworth Prison, Whitechapel 4, Ripper Street 2, Homeland, By Any Means

Series that plodded along: Father Brown, Silent Witness, Vegas, NCIS, Criminal Minds, Death in Paradise, WPC 56, Poirot, Murder on the Home Front, Jo

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Peaky Blinders BBC2, with Cillian Murphy, Sam Neill, Helen McCrory PREVIEW

BBC2 Peaky Blinders John Shelby (Joe Cole), Thomas Shelby (Cillian Murphy), Arthur Shelby (Paul Anderson), Jeremiah Jesus (Benjamin Zephaniah)
The gang’s all here – the Peaky Blinders. Pics: BBC

Rating: ★★★★½

BBC2: starts Thursday, 12 September, 9pm

Story: Birmingham, 1919. Thomas Shelby is a war veteran, and head of feared gang, the Peaky Blinders, who make money from illegal betting, protection and the black market. However, when Tommy comes into possession of a crate of guns from the local arms factory, the government is alarmed and the stakes for the gang are raised dangerously high.

BRITISH GANGSTER mythology usually focuses on loudmouth Londoners in sharp suits, with a bit of Newcastle and Brighton thrown in, as caught in films such as The Krays, The Long Good Friday, Brighton Rock and Get Carter. For 30 years, ITV’s Taggart chipped in for Scotland.

But Birmingham? Perhaps the curse of Crossroads lingers, but Brum is the least fashionable city on UK telly. Peaky Blinders dares to go there, portraying a violent period for the second city.

Sam Neill as Campbell in BBC2's Peaky Blinders
New sheriff in town – Campbell

It’s a new gangster chapter, and it’s a bit of a shock to see a Brit series with strong undertones ofAmerican classics such as Once Upon a Time in America, Gangs of New York and Boardwalk Empire.

Cillian Murphy is gang leader Tommy

Like the HBO series, Peaky Blinders is set immediately after the First World War, when many men – including our anti-hero Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) – are still suffering from the trauma of conflict. The difference for Shelby is that he is a leading force in the Peaky Blinders, so-called because

Arthur Shelby (Paul Anderson), Chief Inspector Campbell (Sam Neill) Peaky Blinders BBC
Campbell ‘interrogates’ Arthur Shelby

they keep razors in their flat-cap peaks, and in the post-war turmoil, Tommy wants to increase his gang’s power.

The recreation of the city as an industrial cauldron is terrific, with smoke and ash, and foundries illuminating the hectic streets. The fashions, the slo-mo entrance of ruthless Belfast copper Chief Inspector Campbell (Sam Neill), and the raucous electric blues soundtrack all give this six-parter a distinctly American feel.

But the drama’s real power comes from the fact this is a personal project for writer and creator Steven Knight, a Birmingham native whose own family history inspired the story.

Inspired by real family figures

‘It’s based on real events,’ says Steven, who also wrote the movies Dirty Pretty Things and Eastern

Cillian Murphy as Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders BBC2
Tommy Shelby plays a dangerous game

Promises. ‘My parents, particularly my dad, had these tantalising memories of from when he was nine or 10 years old of these people. They were incredibly well dressed, they were incredibly powerful, they had a lot of money in an area where no one had money and… they were gangsters!’

As a child his mother was a bookies’ runner, carrying illegal bets to self-styled bookmakers. ‘And in one area of Birmingham it was organised and run by my Dad’s uncles – who were the Peaky Blinders.’

The opening episode starts with an almost surreal street scene in which Tommy performs a stunt with a Chinese woman, believed to be a witch, during which he blows red smoke into a horse’s face. This horse is going to run a race and the magic smoke is a scam to make the locals think it will make the

Grace Burgess (Annabelle Wallis) in BBC2's Peaky Blinders
Barmaid with a secret – Grace

horse run faster and so is worth backing.

Robbery gone wrong

But Tommy is also involved in a robbery in which the stakes are far higher. The planned theft of motorcycles from the BSA plant goes awry when Tommy’s drunken gang accidentally steal machine guns instead.

At a time when the streets are full of Irish Republican sympathisers, socialists and disgruntled unemployed former soldiers, Winston Churchill and the government fear that the munitions will be used in an uprising.

Aunt Polly Gray (Helen McCrory) in BBC2's Peaky Blinders
Aunt Polly warns Tommy to dump the guns

Brutal Belfast copper Campbell is dispatched to Birmingham with his own band of Untouchables, specials who will circumvent the bent local force and ruthlessly root out whoever has the guns.

Sam Neill as the righteous, psychotic Campbell

Neill, with a good Ulster accent (the New Zealander was actually born in Omagh), is the show’s equivalent to Boardwalk Empire‘s Van Alden, a fire-breathing, puritanical zealot come to clean Birmingham. His methods are illegal and brutal.

There is one corny scene in which beautiful Grace (Annabelle Wallis), sporting a hairstyle straight out

Peaky Blinders BBC2 Thomas Shelby (Cillian Murphy), Arthur Shelby (Paul Anderson), Aunt Polly Gray (Helen McCrory)
Arthur after meeting Campbell

of 2013, sings her way to a barmaid’s job in a pub where the punters enjoy spitting and fighting as much as drinking.

But there are not many other duff notes. The performances are strong. Cillian Murphy has plenty of charisma as Tommy, and Helen McCrory as Aunt Polly, the gang’s matriarch, is very believable.

Peaky Blinders packs a punch. It is a distinctive new drama for British TV, full of conflict and feistiness, while taking us down a murky and rarely glimpsed alley of England’s criminal past.

Cast: Cillian Murphy Tommy Shelby, Sam Neill C.I. Campbell, Helen McCrory as Aunt Polly Gray, Annabelle Wallis Grace Burgess, Iddo Goldberg Freddie Thorne, Paul Anderson Arthur Shelby, Sophie Rundle Ada Shelby, Andy Nyman Winston Churchill, Tommy Flanagan Arthur Senior, David Dawson Roberts

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New TV Crime Dramas 2013

From period gangster stories, to serial killers, issue-driven dramas and the return of a few old favourites, 2013 has a rich selection of some terrific new crime series. Great writing from the likes of Jimmy McGovern, and compelling acting from Gillian Anderson, Gabriel Byrne, Benedict Cumberbatch, David Tennant and many others are coming our way in new dramas (Peaky Blinders, The Fall), adaptations (Quirke, Doors Open) and returning heroes – and anti-heroes (Sherlock, Luther). Watch out… Pics: BBC, ITV

Peaky Blinders
Cillian Murphy, Sam Neill, Helen McCrory, Charlie Creed-Miles
Gangster epic with a difference – it’s set in Birmingham, just after the First World War. This is based on the little known history/legend of the Peaky Blinders, so-called for their practice of keeping a razor in their cap peaks. They were a vicious bunch who ran protection, track betting and robbery. Cillian Murphy is Tommy Shelby, the most ruthless brother of the Shelby family, whose leadership is tested by a new police chief, CI Campbell, played by Sam Neill. ‘The story I want to tell is based on family legend and historical fact,’ says Steven Knight, whose previous films include Eastern Promises and Dirty Pretty Things. ‘It is a fiction woven into a factual landscape which is breathtakingly dramatic and cinematic, but which for very English reasons has been consigned to historical text books.’ Currently filming in Birmingham, Liverpool and Leeds. BBC2 2013
Anticipation factor: ★★★★

Gabriel Byrne
This will be one of the most eagerly anticipated new crime dramas of the year. Based on the novels of Benjamin Black – aka award-winning Irish writer John Banville – and scripted by Andrew Davies and Conor McPherson, these three feature-length stories starring Gabriel Byrne are about the chief pathologist in the Dublin morgue during the 1950s. Smoky streets, damp allies, sexual tension, secrets and intrigue should make these dramas rich viewing. Each episode will see Quirke investigate the death of one of the unfortunate souls who end up on his mortuary slab. But as he turns accidental detective he discovers his investigations are often more closely linked to his own life than he could have imagined. Little by little he is forced to confront the sins of his past as he peels back the layers of his own tangled family history. The three feature-length episodes each take their stories from different books in the series – Christine Falls and The Silver Swan adapted by Andrew Davies, and Elegy for April by Conor McPherson. John Banville says: ‘I am very excited by the prospect of seeing my character Quirke incarnated by Gabriel Byrne, a perfect choice for the part. I know both Quirke and Benjamin Black will be wonderfully served by Andrew Davies and Conor McPherson, two masters of their craft.’ BBC1 2013
Anticipation factor: ★★★★

Sherlock 3
Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman
Come on, with that cliffhanger we all want to see how writers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss get out of Sherlock’s death-plunge at the end of series two. Online forums have been a-buzz with theories and analysis of Sherlock’s apparent death, but of course security around the next series is tighter than a gnat’s buttocks. Not content with tormenting fans with the cliffhanger, the dastardly writers recently suggested that the next three feature-length stories will revolve around the words rat, wedding and bow. Elementary? Hardly. But if the writing and chemistry between Holmes and Watson fizzes as it did in the previous two series, it should be terrific TV again. BBC1 2013
Anticipation factor: ★★★★

Shaun Evans, Roger Allam, Sean Rigby, Abigail Thaw
Four 120-minute episodes have just gone into production on the back of the hugely popular one-off prequel shown earlier this year (8.2m tuned in). Oxford is, of course, the backdrop and novelist Colin Dexter, whose first Morse novel was published in 1975, will be the series consultant. ITV1 2013
Anticipation factor: ★★★★½

Doors Open
Stephen Fry, Douglas Henshall

A self-made millionaire, an art professor and a banker come together to undertake an audacious art heist in this two-hour film based on Ian Rankin’s novel. Mike Mackenzie, played by Dougie Henshall (CollisionPrimeval), is a self-made businessman with too much time on his hands. Bored by the comfort of his millions and grieving for the woman who walked out on him five years previously, he’s got an adventurous side just waiting to get him into trouble. When he hears the love of his life, Laura Stanton, art consultant and auctioneer, has returned to Edinburgh, his whole world is turned upside down and he’d risk anything to get her back. After an evening’s drinking with close friends, art expert Professor Gissing, played by Stephen Fry (KingdomBonesSherlock Holmes), and banker Allan Cruickshank, Mike dreams up a plot to rip-off one of the most high-profile targets in the country – Edinburgh’s private art collection owned by a national bank. ITV1 2012/13
Anticipation factor: ★★★★½

Hayley Atwell, Rufus Sewell, Michelle Dockery, Michael Gambon, Charlotte Rampling
Based on William Boyd’s bestseller, this two-parter (2 x 90mins) is the intriguing story of a woman whose mother, one day in 1976, tells her she’s been leading a double life. She is not respectable Sally Gilmartin but in fact Eva Delectorskaya, a spy for the British Secret Service who has been on the run for 30 years. Eva’s story begins in Paris in 1939. Eva (Hayley Atwell), a beautiful Russian émigrée, is recruited for the British Secret Service by Lucas Romer (Rufus Sewell), a mysteriously alluring Englishman… Screenwriter and author, William Boyd, says, ‘To have the chance to film a novel like Restless over three hours is the sort of opportunity that only a television adaptation can provide. It represents the most enticing and alluring of possibilities – not only to tell an enthralling story of wartime espionage, love and betrayal, but also to lift the lid on one of the last secrets of the Second World War.’ BBC1 late 2012
Anticipation factor: ★★★★½

Luther 3
Idris Elba
This is probably maverick DCI John Luther’s last telly outing before he makes the leap to the big screen. Writer/creator Neil Cross has said, ‘The final scene of the final episode is great and we wouldn’t want to continue. I have a weakness for a powerful and moving ending. We’ll go out big and leave it at that.’ BBC1 2012/13
Anticipation factor: ★★★★½

No casting announced yet
Jimmy McGovern (Hillsborough, Dockers) doesn’t write mealy-mouthed dramas, and this 90-minute film is sure to pack a wallop. It will probe the potential for injustice within the law’s Joint Enterprise or Common Purpose rule. It starts with three young men hurrying to a parked car that has 17-year-old JohnJo at the wheel. They drive off, leaving a scene in which a stabbing has occurred at a pizza parlour. Joint Enterprise or Common Purpose, is a 300-year-old legal doctrine that allows several people to be charged with a crime where they are not the primary offenders. McGovern explains, ‘Joint Enterprise was first used in Britain’s courts a few hundred years ago. It was designed to stop the aristocracy duelling. If one duellist killed another then all involved in that duel (the seconds and the surgeons) were charged with murder. It worked. Britain’s aristocrats stopped duelling. Now the law is being used against Britain’s youth. If someone dies in a fight and you’re involved in any way whatsoever, you could find yourself charged with murder. And, if you do, heaven help you because the burden of proof required in joint enterprise cases is frighteningly low.’ BBC1 2013
Anticipation factor: ★★★★½

The Honourable Woman
No casting announced yet
Following the superb The Shadow Line, writer Hugo Blick returns with this six-parter. The daughter of a UK Zionist gun-runner inherits her murdered father’s company and by dramatically inverting its purpose from supplying tanks to tractors starts a deadly political war. Blick says, ‘This is a suspenseful spy thriller about inheritance, political and personal, and the lengths some spies will go to not only to deceive their enemies – but also themselves.’ BBC2 2013
Anticipation factor: ★★★★

Life of Crime
Hayley Atwell
An urban crime drama in three parts that follows a policewoman’s career over three decades. Hayley Atwell (The Sweeney, Captain America) plays risk-taking rookie copper Denise Woods, who becomes obsessed with tracking down the killer of a 15-year-old girl called Anna. The drama explores Denise’s career as she progresses through the Metropolitan Police. Set against the backdrop of iconic moments in British history, such as the Brixton Riots, Life of Crime follows Denise as she rises through the ranks, initially struggling in a male-orientated profession where sexism is rife and female officers must fight to be accepted. Filming in Brixton and Dublin starts in November 2012. ITV1 2013
Anticipation factor: ★★★★

The Ice Cream Girls
Lorraine Burroughs, Jodhi May
Three-part drama based on Dorothy Koomson‘s bestseller. The story follows two vulnerable teenage girls, who in the summer of 1995 are accused of murdering their schoolteacher. For 17 years the two girls are forced to go their separate ways and lead different lives. But now in 2013, they are forced to confront each other and their dark, shared history. Set in a seaside town with brightly coloured beach huts, ‘hook a duck’ and candy floss, the title of the drama The Ice Cream Girls belies the dark and violent relationship that led to that fateful night, and the truth behind the event which has comes to haunt Poppy Carlisle and Serena Gorringe’s every waking moment. ITV1 2013
Anticipation factor: ★★★★

The Lady Vanishes
Keeley Hawes, Gemma Jones, Stephanie Cole, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Tuppence Middleton, Tom Hughes
A 90-minute thriller based on the novel The Wheel Spins by Ethel Lina White – and, of course, filmed by Alfred Hitchcock. Already in production, the story is set in 1931 – beautiful and wealthy young socialite Iris Carr (Middleton) is the heart of her social circle. While holidaying with her friends in the Balkans, Iris finds their raucous behaviour too much and resolves to find some tranquillity and travel home alone. Her expectations of peace are shortlived when she faints on the platform of the railway station in the scorching heat. She is rushed on to the train with a pounding head and a feeling of being almost in a dream. She is comforted by Miss Froy (Selina Cadell), whose tweed suit and bookish looks belie a jovial and adventurous spirit. Miss Froy talks at length about her desperation to return home to her family. Iris falls asleep and awakes to find Miss Froy has vanished and her fellow passengers denying she ever existed… BBC1 2013
Anticipation factor: ★★★★

Douglas Henshall
Two-part drama based on the series of novels by Ann Cleeves (author of the Vera Stanhope books, too). It’s set against the stunning backdrop of the Shetland Isles and features detective Jimmy Perez, who has returned home after a long time away. When a young archaeologist discovers a set of human remains, the island community is intrigued to know if it’s an ancient find or a contemporary mystery. And when an elderly woman is shot on her land in a tragic accident, Perez and his team find themselves at the centre of two feuding families whose envy, greed and bitterness has divided the surrounding community. BBC1 late 2012
Anticipation factor: ★★★★

Murder on the Home Front
Patrick Kennedy, Tamzin Merchant, James Fleet, Emerald Fennell
Loosely based on the memoirs of Molly Lefebure, a secretary during the war to the Home Office pathologist and pioneer of modern forensics, Keith Simpson, this could be a really interesting drama. During the Blitz there were a lot of murky goings-on as the bombs fell, with some people literally getting away with murder. The story will follow Dr Lennox Collins (Patrick Kennedy) and his secretary Molly Cooper (Tamzin Merchant) as Collins challenges his superiors and tries to uncover the truth at crime scenes by treating every bit of physical evidence as key to a breakthrough and not relying on intuition. ITV1 2013
Anticipation factor: ★★★★

The Fall
Gillian Anderson, Jamie Dornan
Psychological thriller probing the lives of two hunters. Dornan (Once Upon a Time) plays serial killer Paul Sector, who stalks his victims in and around Belfast. Anderson (The X Files, Great Expectations) is talented Detective Superintendent Gibson on secondment from the Met, brought in to catch him. It’s written by Allan Cubitt (The RunawayMurphy’s Law) and is described by BBC drama boss Ben Stephenson talks it up like this, ‘Cubitt’s rich and complex psychological thriller combined with another compelling performance from Gillian Anderson will keep viewers on the edge of their seats.’ BBC1 late 2012
Anticipation factor: ★★★★

The Following
Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy, Natalie Zea
BSkyB are calling this US import ‘terrifying’. When notorious serial killer Joe Carroll (Purefoy) escapes from death row and embarks on a new killing spree, the FBI calls former agent Ryan Hardy (Bacon), a psychologically scarred veteran who captured Carroll nine years earlier, after Carroll murdered 14 female students on a college campus where he taught literature. Knowing Carroll better than anyone and close with Carroll’s ex-wife, Claire Hardy (Natalie Zea, Justified) works closely with an FBI team, and discovers that Carroll was not only communicating with a network of killers in the outside world, but has much more planned than just a prison escape. Sky Atlantic 2013
Anticipation factor: ★★★★

The Spies of Warsaw
David Tennant, Janet Montgomery
The former Doctor Who will play a French spy in this drama from writers Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, the men behind The Likely Lads, Porridge and Lovejoy, among others. Based on Alan Furst‘s bestselling novel, this is spy story set in Poland, Paris, London and Berlin in the years leading up to the Second World War. French and German intelligence operatives are locked in a life-and-death struggle on the espionage battlefield. At the French embassy, the new military attaché, Colonel Jean-Francois Mercier (Tennant), a decorated war hero of the 1914 war, is drawn into a world of abduction, betrayal and intrigue in the diplomatic salons and back alleys of Warsaw. At the same time, the handsome aristocrat finds himself in a passionate love affair with Anna (Montgomery), a Parisian lawyer for the League of Nations. Their complicated love affair intensifies as German tanks drive through the Black Forest. BBC4 late 2012/2013
Anticipation factor: ★★★★

The Fear

Peter Mullan, Paul Nicholls, Anastasia Hille, Richard E Grant
Peter Mullan (Tyrannosaur) is Brighton crime boss turned entrepreneur Richie Beckett. Harry Lloyd (Game of Thrones), Paul Nicholls (Law & Order: UK) Anastasia Hille (Snow White and the Huntsman) and Richard E Grant (The Crimson Petal & The White) also star in this four-part series written by Richard Cottan (Wallander) and directed by Michael Samuels (Any Human Heart). Pursuing his dream of rebuilding Brighton’s derelict West Pier, Richie Beckett’s hard-earned respectability is threatened by two new enemies: the encroaching Albanian mafia and an aggressive form of early onset dementia. Struggling to contain the invasion, sons Matty (Harry Lloyd) and Cal (Paul Nicholls) need a peacemaker, but Richie’s erratic and extreme behavior inflames the situation. Ch4 Dec 2012
Anticipation factor: ★★★★

John Simm, Shirley Henderson
Award-winning director Michael Winterbottom returns to Channel 4 with this ambitious single feature-length drama (1 x 120mins). Starring John Simm (ExileMad Dogs) as a prisoner and Shirley Henderson (The Crimson Petal & The White) as his wife, the drama has been filmed over five years and is a tender portrayal of one family living through a prison sentence. Ch4 Nov 2012
Anticipation factor: ★★★★

David Tennant, Olivia Colman, Jodie Whittaker, Andrew Buchan, Stephen Turner, Arthur Darvill
Eight-parter from ITV focusing on a town that becomes the focus of a crime investigation and media frenzy after the body of a man, Danny Price, is found on the beach. ‘Broadchurch focuses on a small British community which finds itself at the eye of a storm. In the wake of one boy’s death, the residents of Broadchurch come under scrutiny and suspicion,’ says writer/creator Chris Chibnall (Doctor WhoLaw & Order: UK). ‘It’s a story of scale and intimacy, as the lives of the characters are laid bare.’ David Tennant takes the role of DI Alec Hardy, an out-of-town, newly promoted police detective who takes the job that local girl DS Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) believes should have been hers. ITV1 2012/13
Anticipation factor: ★★★★

Case Histories 2
Jason Isaacs, Victoria Wood, Amanda Abbington, Millie Innes, Zawe Ashton
Three 90-minutes stories adapted from Kate Atkinson‘s novel Started Early, Took My Dog, to follow-up BBC1’s well-received first series. Victoria Wood said, ‘I am a huge fan of Kate Atkinson and couldn’t resist the chance to be involved in Case Histories.’ Jason Isaacs added, ‘I can’t wait to put on the crumpled, witty, self-destructive, noble and naughty skin of Jackson Brodie again and dive into the unique flavour of Kate Atkinson’s worlds. Nobody connects the past with the present and the absurd with the heart-wrenching like she does and we all feel excited and lucky to bring another bunch of stories of damage and delight to the screen.’ BBC1 2013
Anticipation factor: ★★★★

Secret State

Gabriel Byrne, Douglas Hodge, Gina McKee, Charles Dance, Rupert Graves
Four-part contemporary thriller. A massive industrial accident on Teesside leaves several people dead and raises awkward questions about the safety procedures of the US petrochemical company involved. As a man who has a profound belief in transparency and open government, Dawkins (Byrne) will have to tackle vested interests, financial, media, and military, both domestic and international, in his pursuit to uncover the truth and get justice for the families affected by the disaster. Dawkins becomes aware of establishment’s secret ties to the petrochemical company and comes to realise that there are bigger powers at play behind the scenes. Based on the novel A Very British Coup by Chris Mullins. Ch4 Nov 2012
Anticipation factor: ★★★★

Foyle’s War
Michael Kitchen, Honeysuckle Weeks

Three 120-minutes films by Anthony Horowitz that could have been re-titled Foyle Post-War, because the focus now shifts to a period of espionage and subterfuge in 1946-47. With many stories based on real life cases, Foyle will focus his attention on the world of espionage as he gathers secret intelligence in support of Britain’s security, defence and the Government’s foreign and economic policies. In his new role as a Senior Intelligence Officer, Foyle discovers that the British establishment is rife with communist sympathisers and traitors. In this delicately balanced period in history,  Foyle will use all his intelligence, guile and intuition to keep the country safe. ITV1 2013
Anticipation factor: ★★★★

Sophie Okonedo, Peter Firth, Aidan Gillen, Lesley Manville
From the writers of Whitechapel comes this five-part thriller. A young girl goes missing on the way to a Mayday parade and the small community in which she lives comes under strain. However, behind the facade of this picture postcard idyll is a sinister other-world. Sophie Okonedo plays Fiona, a young mum determined to protect her family, who spies on a neighbour. Peter Firth plays Malcolm, a community leader married to Gail, played by Lesley Manville. Aidan Gillen plays Everett, a single father to the sensitive Linus (Max Fowler), who has fallen in love with Hattie’s twin sister Caitlin (Leila Mimmack) – who can feel it in her bones that her sister is dead. BBC1 2013
Anticipation factor: ★★★½

Line of Duty 2
Vicky McClure, Martin Compston
Casting is not confirmed for the return to Jed Mercurio’s cat-and-mouse thriller, but the series did so well in the ratings for BBC2, hitting 4.2m viewers for its finale, that it was quickly re-commissioned. In fact, the channel honchos were so chuffed with the show that they felt it signalled new confidence and the rebirth of drama at BBC2. Line of Duty followed anti-corruption officers trying to nail Lennie James’ slippery detective, who killed himself at the end of the drama. While the story was an interesting look at corruption and the massaging of police statistics, the drama was a little OTT at times. It will be interesting to see where series two goes. BBC2 2013
Anticipation factor: ★★★½

Paul Higgins, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Alexandra Roach, James Fox, Geraldine James
Described as an enigmatic thriller, this six-parter features a mysterious graphic novel and a shadowy unit called The Network, who will do anything to keep the novel’s origin and meaning secret. Ch4 2013
Anticipation factor: ★★★½

Rory Kinnear, Sean Harris, Shirley Henderson, Eddie Marsan
Southcliffe is a fictional English town that is devastated by a spate of shootings that occur in a single day. Writer Tony Grisoni describes it like this, ‘Southcliffe is a fictional market town inhabited by fictional characters, but with similarities to many actual people and places in Britain today. Invisible people, anonymous places. The inexplicable chain of events at the dark heart of this four-part drama shatters time and space for Southcliffe’s inhabitants. Violence and sudden bereavement confronts them with emotions they are unequipped to understand. Rather than analyse or moralise about our characters’ actions, we share in them. Southcliffe is an anthem to ordinary people’s ability to reinvent themselves in the face of ultimate darkness.’ Ch4 2013
Anticipation factor: ★★★½

Miss Marple (three films)
Julia McKenzie
A Caribbean Mystery was filmed during the summer, in which Miss Marple is staying in a luxury hotel in the tropics when fellow guest Major Palgrave dies in inevitably suspicious circumstances. Also in the line-up is Endless Night and The Seven Dials Mystery, which are being made during this autumn. Julia McKenzie lacks the eccentricity of Geraldine McEwan, perhaps, but she has settled nicely into the role of the apparently sweet-natured spinster with a genius for detection.  ITV1 2012/13
Anticipation factor: ★★★½

Agatha Christie’s Poirot (five films)
David Suchet
David Suchet’s herculean feat of playing Hercule Poirot for 22 years in 65 Poirot films is nearing completion as he works on the final five Agatha Christie stories from the canon that remain to be made. In production this year have been Labours of Hercules, Dead Man’s Folly, The Big Four, Elephants Can Remember and Curtain. Watch out for the actor’s written account of his affection for the character in his new book, Poirot and Me. Here’s a clue to what’s in store: ‘He was as real to me as he had been to her, a great detective, a remarkable man, if, perhaps, just now and then, a little irritating. He had inhabited my life every bit as much as he must have done hers as she wrote 33 novels, more than 50 short stories, and a play about him – making Poirot the most famous fictional detective in the world alongside Sherlock Holmes.’ ITV1 2012/13
Anticipation factor: ★★★½

David Oyelowo
The war on terror and the use of torture are the themes of this hard-hitting 120-minute film from writer Guy Hibbert. The main character, Edward, an MI5 officer, wrestles with key moral questions, such as can we fight terror with torture? Or do we lose everything, and everything we stand for as a democratic nation, by allying ourselves with the torturers of a brutal foreign regime? Ch4 2013
Anticipation factor: ★★★½

Whitechapel 4
Rupert Penry-Jones, Phil Davies, Steve Pemberton
It’s hard to see where writers Caroline Ip and Ben Court can go with this, having dredged up most of the East End’s most infamous chamber-of-horrors killers, but ITV have ordered six new episodes anyway. Series one was about Jack the Ripper, which was followed by the ghosts of the Krays and then several lesser known cases in the last series. The ratings have grown with each series, reaching seven million last time out. Laura Mackie, Director of Drama, ITV says, ‘The first full series of Whitechapel was a huge hit with the ITV audience with its unique take on the crime genre and the brilliantly original combination of Chandler, Miles and Buchan. I’m so pleased that they’re coming back to solve more historically inspired crimes.’ 2013 ITV1
Anticipation factor: ★★★

Death in Paradise 2
Ben Miller, Sara Martins, Danny John-Jules, Jamelia
British singer-songwriter Jamelia will crop up this time round in the light-hearted mystery series set on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. Ben Miller is the fish-out-of-water British detective inspector Richard Poole, who doesn’t like the sun, sea and sand but has ended up solving murders in paradise anyway. The humour was so gentle it was almost imperceptible, but the Beeb thought it did well enough for a recall. Stephanie Beacham (Coronation Street), Michael Brandon (Dempsey & Makepeace), Kelly Adams (Hustle) and Dexter Fletcher (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) will join Jamelia among the guest stars. BBC1 2012
Anticipation factor: ★★½

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