Best TV crime dramas of 2014

THIS ROUND-UP of the year’s best TV crime dramas has for the past four years comfortably listed 10 outstanding series.2014, on the other hand, is a tougher proposition. There were so many terrific stories and performances that I found it impossible to restrict it to 10. So, to celebrate the New Year, here is my top 14 for 2014…

True Detective, Sky Atlantic

A simply indelible series that was unlike anything else out there in 2014. Haunting, a little mad and with a dream-like – or perhaps that should be nightmarish – atmosphere. Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson put in a shift, too. Our review

Happy Valley, BBC1

Sally Wainwright’s gritty drama was engrossing and powerful, and also had one of the performances of the year from Sarah Lancashire. The second series will have a tough act to follow. Our review

Peaky Blinders, BBC2

Really hit its stride in this second series. Great to see a revival of the British gangster drama that dared to be brash and different. Our review

Sherlock 3, BBC1

Some people did not like this flamboyant third series, but we did and so did most reviewers. Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat were really on their game, producing a drama that fizzed with jaw-dropping surprises and delights. Our review

The Bridge 2, BBC4

Superb follow-up to the first series, which pushed our heroes Saga and Martin into new intrigue and emotional turmoil. Kim Bodnia won’t return to series 3 because his character, of course, ended up in jail, but Sofia Helin will (see Digital Spy’s interview with them)
Our review

Line of Duty 2, BBC2

Another feather in BBC2’s cap this year, this drama about police corruption was superb and completely outshone the first series. Keeley Hawes dominated proceedings with a compelling performance as the inspector under suspicion. Our review

The Widower, ITV

Once again ITV came up with a fascinating exploration of a real crime. Reece Shearsmith as the slippery killer Malcolm Webster was haunting, in a drama that was way better than his other series this year, the unconvincing Chasing ShadowsOur review

Fargo, C4

It never came close to catching the bleak logic and black humour of the Coen brothers’ cult film, but this series starring Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton was quirky enough to keep everyone frozen to the screen. Our review

The Missing, BBC1

Sober, intelligent and always engrossing eight-part tragedy. The disappearance of a five-year-old British boy on holiday in France was a difficult subject, but this was a truthful and heartfelt series that was totally involving. Our review

Gomorrah, Sky Atlantic

Powerful Italian series, based on Roberto Saviano’s frightening book about the Neapolitan Camorra, which revealed how insidious and slightly unhinged Southern Italian crime organisations are. Our review

The Honourable Woman, BBC2

Twisting, full of intrigue and beautifully made and acted, this follow-up to The Shadow Line from writer/producer/director Hugo Blick was one of the most captivating dramas of 2014. Maggie Gyllenhaal stepped out of her Hollywood comfort zone and gave a blockbuster performance. Our review

Scott & Bailey, ITV

Once again this ITV staple with Lesley Sharp and Suranne Jones got all the basics of good drama right, while coming up with some really intriguing crime stories. Our review

Boardwalk Empire, Sky Atlantic

A series that has never really grabbed audiences in the UK, but as it approached its finale it was always beautifully written, acted and produced. Our review

The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies

ITV specialises in dramas inspired by real events and again came up with a sober, fascinating series about the wrongful arrest of the eccentric ex-school teacher. Jason Watkins was terrific in the lead. Our review

Honourable mentions to… 
The Fall 2 – even if the finale made a hash of Stella’s character and was ultimately disappointing (see our mini-poll, above right), this had some great moments along the way; Brooklyn Nine-Nine; Suspects; Endeavour 2; Mammon; 24: Live Another Day; Amber; Utopia; Crimes of Passion; The Driver; Legends; Glue; Grantchester; and Common.
Fond farewells…
to Ronnie Brooks (and Law & Order: UK as well?), and Southland.
Hostages; Salamander; the pilot for Bosch; Babylon did not quite cut it; Turks & Caicos – all prestige production and cast that failed to grip; Prey; Hinterland; Chasing Shadows; and Stalker, which was pretty dire.

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Sherlock series 3 – the verdict

THE REVIEWS are in and many concur with our review from yesterday, giving Sherlock five stars and high praise.

But not all. The Indie reckons it was ‘disappointingly desperate’.

I must confess that I thought it was so good I watched it a second time last night.

It’s been a tremendous series. The first episode was perhaps patchy, with a flimsy mystery, being so concerned with the coup de theatre of the death plunge that wasn’t. But even the opener was full of wit and fun. 

Episode two was a joy, and riffed brilliantly on the ridiculousness of Holmes doing anything as normal as being best man. But last night was full of surprises, lovely performances, tension and humour.

And the series is over already!

I’m eager to see what other viewers thought. Comments below, please…

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Sherlock: His Last Vow, BBC1, with Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Amanda Abbington, Lars Mikkelsen PREVIEW

Sherlock didn’t hate Moriarty, but he hates Magnussen in His Last Vow. Pics: BBC

Rating: ★★★★★

BBC1: Sunday, 12 January, 8.30pm 

Story: A case of stolen letters leads Sherlock Holmes into a long conflict with Charles Augustus Magnussen, the Napoleon of blackmail, and the one man he truly hates…

‘THAT’S THE THING with Sherlock,’ says Watson in tonight’s finale. ‘There’s always the unexpected.’

It’s an easy deduction that Watson’s claim is an early entry for the understatement of 2014.

Because tonight’s dazzling climax is chock-full of jaw-dropping surprises, twists and delights. Written by Steven Moffat – Doctor Who head honcho and prime moving force behind this Sherlock update along with Mark Gatiss – it’s one of the absolute top episodes in what is already a tremendous series.

Lady Smallwood (LINDSAY DUNCAN), Magnussen ( LARS MIKKELSEN) Sherlock BBC
Lady Smallwood (LINDSAY DUNCAN) and Magnussen ( LARS MIKKELSEN)

Lars Mikkelsen as the loathsome Magnussen

Like a magician, Moffat diverts and stuns us with a series of revelations and intrigues that make the 90-
minute film fly by.

Lars Mikkelsen, of The Killing and Borgen fame, joins in the fun as one of the nastiest and most disconcerting villains Sherlock has encountered. He is media mogul Charles Augustus Magnussen, a world-class hoarder of personal secrets that he can use to blackmail whomever he chooses.

And Sherlock, not a chap normally ruled by his emotions, loathes Magnussen (he calls him ‘the worst man in London’ in the original story). When the slimeball turns up at Baker Street, he makes himself at home in a particularly offensive way.

Dr John Watson (MARTIN FREEMAN) Sherlock BBC
Watson again finds Sherlock anything but elementary

Tension, laughs and tears

Anyway, it is not possible to reveal more of what’s in store. In the first place, it would be mean and sad to spoil things for anyone tuning in, and secondly, the security around the series is now so tight that you almost suspect Mycroft Holmes is organising it.

The Beeb sent me a email outlining what was verboten for this post. Here’s a redacted version:

  •          Anything related to the revelation of XXXXXXX.
  •          The lengths Sherlock goes to to XXXXXXXX
  •          The truth about Magnussen’s XXXXXXXXX
  •          Sherlock’s XXXXXX and the fact that XXXXXXX
  •          Sherlock’s XXXXXXX in the episode
  •          The fact that Sherlock XXXXXXX
  •          The appearance of XXXXXX
  •          The ending

Only someone with the evil impulses of a Moriarty would want to divulge all this anyway. But what can be revealed is that the production values are lavish, the soundtrack is again superb, there’s a wonderful ‘mind palace’ sequence, plus tension, laughs and tears.

Amanda Abbington as Mary

Moffat and co-writer/star Mark Gatiss have pushed the characters hard in this latest series. Where so

Mary Morstan (AMANDA ABBINGTON) Sherlock BBC
Mary has been a brilliant addition to the series

many TV dramas are about preserving characters in aspic, Moffat and Gatiss are so in the groove with the Sherlockian world that they’ve shown new angles and depths to Holmes and Watson throughout the series.

Any caveats? Sherlock acts in what seems an out-of-character fashion at the final confrontation, though that could have ramifications in the next series.

But bringing Amanda Abbington in as Mary has been a masterstroke. Her performance is hugely enjoyable and the character has helped to bring out Holmes in all his ridiculousness and brilliance.

Now the poor chaps have set the bar extremely high for series four. Apparently, a fourth and fifth series are planned, and will follow ‘quickly’.

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch Sherlock Holmes, Martin Freeman John Watson, Mark Gatiss Mycroft, Rupert Graves Inspector Lestrade, Una Stubbs Mrs Hudson, Amanda Abbington Mary Morstan, Louise Brealey Molly Hooper, Lars Mikkelsen Charles Augustus Magnussen, Lindsay Duncan Lady Smallwood

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Sherlock – preview of series 3

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Holmes and Watson in Sherlock series 3
Sherlock looks almost ghostly as he hovers over Watson in this scene from series 3. Pic: BBC

Here’s a glimpse from the third series of Sherlock, which should hit BBC1 screens in January (some time before the US broadcast on 19 January). At last we’ll find out how the sleuth cheated death in that rooftop plunge – and get to see Watson’s response to having been duped by his chum. And what will Holmes say when Watson falls for a certain Mary Morstan? New arrivals will include The Killing‘s Lars Mikkelsen, who is apparently ‘terrifying’ as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s king of blackmailers Charles Augustus Milverton. The first episode will be The Empty House, written by Mark Gatiss. There are more production pics here.

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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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