Paranoid, trailer for ITV’s new thriller

Paranoid is coming to ITV this autumn.

It’s the story of a female GP who is murdered in a children’s playground with an abundance of eyewitnesses. Detectives embark on what seems to be a straightforward investigation. But as they delve into the case they are drawn into the twists of a mystery, taking them unexpectedly across Europe.

Cast includes Indira Varma, Robert Glenister, Lesley Sharp, Dino Fetscher, Neil Stuke, Polly Walker and John Duttine.

State of Play — Killer TV No 18

B0007ZD6YK.02._SS400_SCLZZZZZZZ_V1118152570_BBC1, 2003

‘One of my officers was murdered. Don’t piss me about.’ DCI William Bell

David Morrissey, John Simm, Kelly Macdonald, Polly Walker, Bill Nighy, Philip Glenister, James McAvoy, Marc Warren

Identikit: When Sonia, a political aide, is killed on the London Tube, a newspaper starts an investigation that will lead to a conspiracy of political corruption and oil industry influence in the government.

logosWhat begins as two apparently unconnected deaths – one that appears drug-related, one of the young researcher of an MP, who falls under a Tube train – spirals into evidence of a conspiracy. As reporters played by Kelly Macdonald and John Simm investigate, they discover that not only was Stephen Collins, MP, the chairman of the energy Select Committee, having an affair with Sonia, his researcher, but that she had received a call from a murdered youth, who was gunned down in the street. Kelvin Stagg had stolen a briefcase and was attempting to sell it back to its owner when he and a passing courier were shot by a hit man. The murder of a detective watching over the recuperating courier rounds off the opening episode of one of the most pacy, exciting thrillers ever to be made for UK television. It was also ahead of its time in depicting the blagging used by our reporter heroes to harvest personal information from hospitals and phone records (years before Hackgate exposed the dirty, non-investigative side of it). David Morrissey is terrific as the unfaithful politician husband in turmoil, whose lover may have had more baggage than he ever imagined. Bill Nighy counterbalances Morrissey’s emotional performance with a razor-sharp turn as the cynical newspaper editor – ‘Either he [Collins] is faking it or he’s nobbing her.’ And he has many of the best lines – ‘Don’t kiss your own arse till you get us a name.’ And a pre-Life on Mars Philip Glenister plays a seriously intimidating detective chief inspector, showing just how powerful he can be in a straight role. His scenes with Nighy’s slippery editor are riveting. Oil industry obfuscation and corruption, human drama, wit, chases and intrigue – thrillingly directed by David Yates, who made several of the Harry Potter films – all go into making this a high point in UK crime drama. Written by one of the UK’s best writers, Paul Abbott (Shameless, Hit & Miss), the six-part thriller had superb dialogue, was politically caustic, and had a superlative British cast, one of the best ever assembled, many of whom have gone on to major successes in the US – Morrissey and Simm being particularly fine.

Sequel: the 2009 movie with Russell Crowe was decent but couldn’t resist Hollywood’s obsession with convoluted twist endings.

Classic episode: Each episode of this six-parter is engrossing, but the final episode ties the drama together brilliantly, with one final, oh-bloody-hell twitst.

Watercooler fact: The BBC wanted a sequel series, but apparently Paul Abbott, after working on a script, couldn’t make the story work. Which may be just as well – sequels rarely match an inspired original.

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

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

Rating: ★★★★

BBC1: Thursday, 14 March, 9pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Horrific ordeal for Francesca

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sherlock vs Mrs Biggs at ITV1’s National Television Awards

Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Sherlock BBC

• Sherlock faces off with Mrs Biggs at the National Television Awards, to be shown on ITV1 later this month (Wednesday, 23 January, 7.30pm). Both crime dramas have two nominations each, with BBC1’s Sherlock down for best drama and male performance (Benedict Cumberbatch), while Sheridan Smith and Daniel Mays are both in the running for their roles in ITV1’s Great Train Robbery drama. Suranne Jones is also nominated for Scott & Bailey. Doctor Who, ironically a character inspired by Sherlock Holmes, tops the drama nominations with three nods. The NTA gongs are voted for by the great viewing public, so give your favourite a boost here. Surely, Sherlock was way more fun than Dullton Abbey?

Doctor Who, Downton Abbey, Merlin, Sherlock
Drama performance male:
Benedict Cumberbatch Sherlock, Daniel Mays Mrs Biggs, Colin Morgan Merlin, Matt Smith Doctor Who
Drama performance female:
Karen Gillan Doctor Who, Miranda Hart Call the Midwife, Suranne Jones Scott & Bailey, Sheridan Smith Mrs Biggs

Polly Walker as Francesca, BBC• Prisoners’ Wives will be back on BBC1 later this year. It’s just finished filming in Sheffield and the makers are promising more jeopardy, joy, sex and secrets resulting from the imprisonment of the women’s other halves. Polly Walker (right) and Pippa Hayward return alongside new characters played by Sally Carman and Karla Crome. Writer Julie Gearey‘s series was something of a quiet success, relying on intriguing stories and strong characters. She says, ‘It’s been very exciting to return to the world of Prisoners’ Wives and have the opportunity to create fresh stories for Francesca and Harriet and introduce our brand new characters, Kim and Aisling. The second season will continue the mix of compelling character driven stories with some dark twists and more than a little romance.’

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Prisoners’ Wives – Jonas Armstrong, Emma Rigby PREVIEW

Polly Walker as sassy Francesca. Pics: BBC

Rating: ★★★★

BBC1, starts Tuesday, 31 January, 9pm

Story: ‘I’m your dream ticket,’ Steve tells his happy, young pregnant wife, Gemma – just before armed police smash down the front door and take him away on suspicion of murder. Though convinced of his innocence, Gemma is still pitched into a frightening new life as a prisoner’s wife…

Where this week’s other new crime series Inside Men (see below) is full of tension, thievery and shotguns, Prisoners’ Wives has less action and is mainly about relationships under strain. It is an absorbing drama that veers away from plot twists and shocks in favour of believable characters whose lives are freefalling into turmoil.

Steve (Jonas Armstrong) and Gemma (Emma Rigby)

Written and created by Julie Gearey, the six-parter’s opening episode introduces us to Gemma, who is young, happily married to Steve and pregnant. Her idyll is shattered along with her front door when heavily tooled up coppers smash into their home and arrest Steve for murder.

Gemma’s shame and fear
‘I swear, I don’t know anything,’ Steve tells her on her first visit to see him in prison. But why is Steve, who runs his own business, being held if there is no evidence, and why is there a two-hour gap in his alibi?

Gemma is alone and scared, having to get used a new group of friends, the prisoners’ wives. Convinced that Steve has been wrongfully arrested, Gemma rejects the friendship of bold and brassy Francesca, whose husband Paul is inside for drug running.

Is Steve guilty or innocent?

Julie Gearey, whose writing credits include Coronation Street, Casualty and The Secret Diary of a Call Girl, skilfully depicts Gemma’s loneliness and fear, as the mum-to-be tries to hide her shame over Steve’s arrest from her workmates as well as her beloved foster mum. She has the shock of biometric scans and body searches at the prison, and the cruel bullying of the detective in charge of Steve’s case.

Polly Walker as Francesca
Emma Rigby is well cast as the pretty and fragile Gemma, looking about 14 years old in what must be a tough role as woman who’s in tears in every other scene. Jonas Armstrong is good as the husband we’re not sure about, but it is Polly Walker as queen bee Francesca who gives the show a lot of heart.

Sassy and living in luxury, Francesca won’t be dissed by anyone, certainly not the pinstriped banker dad of her son’s girlfriend, and Gemma is eventually drawn to her.

Among the other main characters are Lou, who is certainly not living in luxury as she tries to get by selling drugs and hiding her partner’s prisoner status from their boy, Mason. And only glimpsed in the first episode is Harriet, who comes into the story more later on.

Heartache ahead

Prisoners’ wives Lou, Gemma, Francesca and Harriet

As the opener concludes, Gemma learns more about Steve’s predicament and it’s clear there will be big challenges and soul-searching ahead for the women. Refreshingly for a crime drama, it doesn’t finish with a daft twist but a tender moment that has the same effect – leaving a strong desire to see what happens next.

Cast: Jonas Armstrong Steve; Emma Rigby  Gemma; Polly Walker Francesca; Pippa Haywood Harriet; Iain Glen Paul, Natalie Gavin Lou

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