Lucky Man 2, James Nesbitt’s on a roll

James Nesbitt (DI Harry Clayton) and Thekla Reuten (Isabella Augustin) in Stan LeeÕs Lucky Man (SKY 1), episode two, series two. Photographer: Steffan Hill / © 2016 Carnival Films

Fortune smiles: James Nesbitt (DI Harry Clayton) and Thekla Reuten (Isabella Augustin)

IF YOU’RE a British TV fan then you would have most certainly heard of the actor James Nesbitt. Since his acting breakthrough in the romantic-comedy drama Cold Feet, his acting career has gone from strength to strength.

From his ‘cheeky chappie’ roles, he went on to pursue more serious parts that won him numerous awards. And now he is back again in the exciting new Marvel Legend’s drama series Lucky Man, which was confirmed to run for a second series last year.

It’s fair to say that this popular TV show (dubbed Sky 1’s biggest hit drama to date) is set for a successful second round.

Will there be Lucky Man 3?

With all of the drama currently going on in the world, for example Donald Trump taking office in the White House, it is easy to see why the superhero-esque show has gained such a following. We are clearly all in need of a little respite from the news.

In a recent interview Nesbitt himself said that, ‘It’s hard to focus everything on the worry of Brexit, extremism and Donald Trump because at home we’re just enjoying what I suppose would be called a post-war optimism.’

This is possibly one of the best ways of explaining why the hit TV show has built up such a following. Lucky Man has captured the imagination of approximately 1.9 million people and fans are already chatting about the possibility of the show coming back for a third round following the latest instalment.

James Nesbitt (DI Harry Clayton) in Stan Lee’s Lucky Man (SKY 1), episode two, series two.

Tunnel vision: DI Harry Clayton

Harry Clayton is cursed with luck

Perhaps one of the most intriguing things about Lucky Man is the fact that James is able to play a superhero while retaining his own Irish accent, which makes a refreshing change to the American accents we typically see with Marvel productions.

In the show, Nesbitt plays a detective inspector called Harry Clayton. He is a gambling addict who comes into the possession of an ancient bracelet that makes his able to control his luck.

While Nesbitt’s character may seem like he has it all, the power that comes with luck also brings things with it that counter-acts the successes…

Co-stars Eve Best and Sienna Guillory

The idea of being able to control the way you win and lose in life is obviously something that resonates with the show’s viewers. But there may be more to the show than simply that.

Viewers have been so taken by it and have allowed it to enter their homes due to the unique twist of combining a crowd-pleasing crime drama with the added element of Stan Lee’s Marvel talents.

This, alongside a strong cast of actors (Eve Best, Sienna Guillory, Steven Mackintosh) means this show is sure to be remembered for a long time to come. Will Lucky Man return for a third time? Time will tell, but it’s definitely not impossible with the reviews it’s getting today!

Stan Lee’s Lucky Man season 2 is on Sky1, Fridays 9pm

Stan Lee’s Lucky Man hits audience jackpot

James Nesbitt as DI Harry Clayton and Sienna Guillory as Eve in Stan Lee's Lucky Man (an original British drama for SKY 1) Episode One Photographer: Steffan Hill / © 2015 Carnival Films

Twist of fate: James Nesbitt and Sienna Guillory in Stan Lee’s Lucky Man

SKY1 HONCHOS certainly feel like winners right now as their gambling-themed thriller Stan Lee’s Lucky Man has been getting hefty backing from viewers.

Sienna Guillory as Eve in Stan Lee's Lucky Man (an original British drama for SKY 1) Episode One Photographer: Steffan Hill / © 2015 Carnival Films

Sienna Guillory as Eve

Starring James Nesbitt, the 10-parter (Fridays, 9pm on Sky1) saw its viewing figures jump after the first episode from 1.14m to a consolidated audience  of 1.74m. This is the biggest increase in viewing figures that the first episode of any Sky original drama series has ever achieved in the week after transmission. It also makes it the best performing original drama series launch on Sky1 for nearly four years (see our preview of the show here).

Adam MacDonald, Director of Sky 1, said: ‘I’m thrilled that our customers are enjoying the show as much as we are.

‘This record increase in viewing figures shows that they continue to value the flexibility that we offer them, to watch their favourite shows wherever and whenever they want.’

The series is the idea of comic legend Stan Lee and plays with themes of gambling and fate.

It sees DI Harry Clayton (Nesbitt), a cop from Central London’s Murder Squad, being given a mysterious bracelet that is said to endow the wearer with immense luck.

Roulette wheel at the Green Dragon Casino in Stan Lee's Lucky Man (an original British drama for SKY 1) Episode One - behind-the-scenes Photographer: Steffan Hill / © 2015 Carnival Films

The Green Dragon Casino in Stan Lee’s Lucky Man

The story exudes a glamorous side of London, the characters are familiar with the kind of high-adrenaline leisure found on sites such as Casino UK, and the show has panache, mixing an off-beat crime tale with spectacular depictions of the night-time capital with terrific action scenes.

However, Harry’s luck comes with a price and soon he finds himself at the heart of a sinister crime wave hitting town. The series also stars Amara Karan (The Darjeeling Limited), Sienna Guillory (Fortitude), Eve Best (Nurse Jackie), Steven Mackintosh (Inside Men), Darren Boyd (Spy) and Omid Djalili (Moonfleet).

This Friday the intrigue continues as Harry makes a wrong move that lands him in a life or death situation…

James Nesbitt as DI Harry Clayton in Stan Lee's Lucky Man (an original British drama for SKY 1) Episode Three Photographer: Steffan Hill / © 2015 Carnival Films

Life or death: DI Harry Clayton


Stan Lee’s Lucky Man, Sky1, James Nesbitt

James Nesbitt as DI Harry Clayton and Sienna Guillory as Eve in Stan Lee's Lucky Man (an original British drama for SKY 1) Episode One Photographer: Steffan Hill / © 2015 Carnival Films

The chips are down, bit not for long: James Nesbitt as DI Harry Clayton and Sienna Guillory as Eve

Cop show with a supernatural twist from the creator of Spider-Man

★★★½ Sky1, Fridays 9pm (starts 22 January)

COMIC-BOOK genius Stan Lee – Hulk, Spider-Man, Thor and other Marvels – has teamed up with Sky1 for his first TV drama. It’s a detective story and the result is typically far-fetched and fast-paced.

Troubled London detective Harry Clayton is addicted to gambling, but his life takes a wild turn when he is given a bracelet that endows him with luck. What at first appears to be a brilliant change of fortune is soon revealed to be a double-edged blessing.

Stan Lee's Lucky Man, with James Nesbitt, Sky1

Run of luck: James Nesbitt as Harry

Lee, the 93-year-old writer-editor-pubisher, says of the show: ‘People always ask me what superpower I would have, or what power there is that I haven’t already given to a hero. I have always thought that luck would probably be the greatest power of all. We decided that a man, our modern-day hero, receiving a certain type of luck would make an interesting show.’

Eve Best and Sienna Guillory

So, has Sky1 hit the jackpot with this high-concept 10-parter?

It’s good fun, with plenty of action and intrigue. The channel has also provided a pretty decent cast, with James Nesbitt as Clayton, Eve Best as his barrister wife and Sienna Guillory as the mysterious Eve, who locks the charmed bracelet to Harry’s wrist during a one-night stand.

Eve Best as Anna Clayton in Stan Lee's Lucky Man (an original British drama for SKY 1) Episode One Photographer: Liam Daniel / © 2015 Carnival Films

Harry’s loss: Eve Best as Anna Clayton

Steven Mackintosh plays Harry’s fierce new boss, with Darren Boyd as his troublesome colleague and Omid Djalili turning up as a strip-club owner. There’s even a cameo from Stan the Man.

While the plot ticks over with an investigation into the murder of a casino owner and a stripper, the meat of it is Harry and his messed up life. He’s separated from his wife because of his gambling, but he still loves her and his daughter. Meanwhile, he discovers that some fairly ruthless people want his bracelet.

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Fortitude, Sky Atlantic, Sofie Grabol, Michael Gambon, Stanley Tucci, Christopher Eccleston PREVIEW

Sky Atlantic’s much-anticipated new crime series is a slow thaw, but it has a great cast and a terrific setting

Stanley Tucci as DCI Eugene Morton; Sophie Grabol as Hildur Odegard; Christopher Eccleston as Professor Charlie Stoddart in fortitude
In cold blood – murder comes to Fortitude, with Stanley Tucci, Sofie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston. Pics: Sky

Rating: ★★★½

Sky Atlantic: starts Thursday, 29 January, 9pm

Story: In the close-knit community of Fortitude in the Arctic Circle, a murder touches everyone and the unsettling horror of the crime threatens the future of the town itself.

AN AVALANCHE of hype has accompanied Sky’s Arctic thriller. At a rumoured £25million it has cost more than the entire budget of the Sky Arts channel, apparently. It’s meant to pitch Sky Atlantic into the HBO league of major drama creators. It’s the network’s most ambitious series ever etc etc.

Richard Dormer as Dan Anderssen in Fortitude
Sheriff Dan doesn’t think the town is big enough for him and Morton

With a terrific international roster of actors including Stanley Tucci, Sofie Grabol, Michael Gambon, Christopher Eccleston, Richard Dormer and Sienna Guillory, it certainly grabs the attention. And devotees of recent dark mysteries such as The Killing and Broadchurch will also be intrigued by an unusual 11-parter set in an almost surreal frozen setting.

But, on viewing it, how does Fortitude measure up? I thought it got off to a slightly bewildering start.

Sofie Grabol is Fortitude’s governor

Michael Gambon as Henry Tyson in Fortitude
Wildlife photographer Henry makes a horrid discovery

The opening feature-length episode is stunningly set in an Icelandic town, but it hurriedly throws so many characters and storylines at you that the first hour leaves you a bit, well, cold.

It begins with Michael Gambon’s Henry stumbling on a savage scene on the seafront, which is immediately disconcerting. Then a young lad is stricken with a mystery illness and is left by his father, who’s having illicit sex with a hotel receptionist.

Meanwhile, the discovery of a mammoth’s remains by two chancers threatens the plans of the governor, Hildur (The Killing‘s Sofie Grabol), to redevelop Fortitude.

We also meet the town’s odd but charming PCs Ingrid and Petra, and new arrival Vincent (played by Luke Treadaway), who’s here to help Professor Stoddart (Christopher Eccleston).

Stanley Tucci as DCI Morton

There’s more, but the blizzard of plotlines comes to a halt when a grisly murder is discovered, and the town with no crime is abruptly revealed to actually harbour very dark undercurrents.

Mia Jexen as PC Ingrid; Alexandra Moen as PC Petra in Fortitude
Ingrid and Petra

It is when Stanley Tucci’s character, DCI Eugene Morton, arrives from London that the drama gels and we get our bearings (though how an American with FBI credentials happens to be working for London’s Metropolitan Police is again confusing).

Morton is confronted by the antagonistic sheriff (Richard Dormer), which sets up the juicy prospect of a running battle between the pair.

After what is a messy opening episode, Fortitude could well develop into a sharp and intriguing drama. Created by Simon Donald, who wrote C4’s gritty crime series Low Winter Sun, it is certainly original, with a savage but beautiful setting.


Sofie Grabol shows her versatility by throwing off her strutting detective Sarah Lund from The Killing to play an under-pressure politician with an agenda. Tucci is very watchable as the outsider poking his nose in, and there are certainly enough murky goings-on to keep viewers guessing.

Luke Treadaway as Vincent Rattre; Sienna Guillory as Natalie Yelburton in Fortitude
Newcomer Vincent (Luke Treadaway) meets Natalie (Sienna Guillory)

I’ve seen it compared to Twin Peaks, which is misleading. But Fortitude is in the rich vein of contemporary dark crime series full of compromised heroes.

Sky will be anxious that it snowballs into a bigger hit than its previously acclaimed series The Take (2009) and Mad Dogs (2011), but, while refreshingly bold, it doesn’t put them in the same league as HBO and True Detective just yet.

Cast: Richard Dormer Sheriff Dan Anderssen, Stanley Tucci DCI Eugene Morton, Michael Gambon Henry Tyson, Sofie Grabol Governor Hildur Odegard, Christopher Eccleston Professor Charlie Stoddart, Luke Treadaway Vincent Rattrey, Jessica Raine Jules Sutter, Nicholas Pinnock Frank Sutter, Johnny Harris Ronnie Morgan, Veronica Echegui Elena Ledesma, Sienna Guillory Natalie Yelburton, Darren Boyd Markus Huseklepp, Mia Jexen PC Ingrid, Alexandra Moen PC Petra, Darwin Brokenbro Liam Sutter, Elizabeth Dormer-Phillips Carrie Morgan, Bjorn Hlynur Haraldsson Eric Odegard, Chipo Chung Trish Stoddart, Phoebe Nicholls Doctor Allerdyce

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Luther series 3, BBC1, with Idris Elba, Warren Brown, Sienna Guillory PREVIEW

Idris Elba as John Luther in the third series of BBC1's Luther
He’s a smasher – Idris Elba as DCI John Luther. Pics: BBC

Rating: ★★★½

BBC1: starts Tuesday, 2 July, 9pm 

Story: Luther is loaded up with two big murder cases – one for a fetishist who is killing women, and the other involving the death of a malicious internet tormentor – while inside the police force itself, an operation is underway to nail the detective for past transgressions.

THE GOTHIC COP is back. John Luther, gloomy, dealing with grotesque cases that often have supernatural echoes, is giving it large once again – dangling suspects over balconies, having punch-ups with other detectives and messing with the minds of the deranged.

Idris Elba in BBC1's Luther, series 3
Out on his own – Luther is targeted

In what could the series’ last outing before creator Neil Cross transfers the character to the big screen,
Luther has a lot on his plate. He’s after a creepy fetishistic killer of women who seems to be emulating 1980s murderer the Shoreditch Creeper, a case that was never solved.

This being Luther, the killer has to have a wacky MO, so the Creeper would pleasure himself while sucking his victims’ toes. The contemporary copycat seems to be dressing up his victims like someone from his past.

DSU George Stark is gunning for Luther

DSU George Stark (DAVID O'HARA) in BBC1's Luther
Stark choice – David O’Hara as Luther’s enemy

The stories are always totally unbelievable in Luther, but what sells it are Idris Elba as the force-of-nature, intuitive cop – once again, he literally towers over everyone here – along with the show’s chilling atmosphere. In this brooding opener, the gore takes second place to some stomach-tightening set-piece moments.

What lifts this third series above the others, however, are two new plot developments. The first is the arrival of David O’Hara as DSU George Stark. The Scottish actor has a presence and raw menace to make him a formidable foe for our anti-hero, and his character is out to see Luther go down for killings he is suspected of carrying out during past investigations.

O’Hara, along with DCI Erin Gray (Nikki Amuka-Bird), intimidates Luther’s deputy and best friend, Ripley, into spying on John. Once again, implausibility reigns and Ripley seems to speedily fall in line.

Love is in the air with the arrival of Sienna Guillory

DCI John Luther (IDRIS ELBA), Mary Day (SIENNA GUILLORY) in BBC1's Luther
Luther dates Mary in a, er, fast food cafe

The plan involves loading another murder case onto Luther – that of a malicious internet tormentor.

Again, the plot is stretched beyond plausibility as Stark and Gray know who the murderer is, but for some reason think Luther will let him go, and then they can arrest the detective.

Yet the drama is still nicely poised for an almighty showdown between Luther and Stark. As Stark says, ‘He doesn’t know it, but his good fortune ran out the day I heard his name.’

The other juicy storyline is another new character that Luther runs into, literally, in his car. This is Mary Day, played by Sienna Guillory. Love is in the air immediately, and the detective, whose wife Zoe was murdered in the first series, seems about to relieve some of his gloomy work obsessiveness with a bit of romance.

Watch out for Alice…

Alice Morgan (RUTH WILSON) in BBC1's Luther
Lurking – Alice Morgan

But with Stark after him, and the impending return of the show’s favourite pantomime genius psychopath, Alice Morgan (Ruth Wilson), the woman with whom Luther has a – wouldn’t you know it – reality-defying bond, the course of true love is unlikely to run smoothly.

Luther is a frustrating series. It gets so much right – terrific performers, intriguing conflicts and it’s dripping with atmosphere.

But it’s not just the series’ killers who are off their rockers. The whole drama could do with an occasional reality check.

Cast: Idris Elba DCI John Luther, Warren Brown DS Justin Ripley, Sienna Guillory Mary Day, David O’Hara DSU George Stark, Nikki Amuka-Bird DCI Erin Gray, Dermot Crowley DSU Martin Schenk, Michael Smiley Benny Deadhead

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Luther 3, Scott & Bailey finale, Elementary in London, Mad Dogs 3, Tamzin Outhwaite for New Tricks

Idris Elba in Luther series 3, BBC1
Stormy times ahead for lovestruck Luther. Pic: BBC
• He may not be back on our screens until September, but here is an early peek at Luther to keep fans going. The third series starring Idris Elba as the slightly unhinged detective will see Sienna Guillory joining the cast as Luther’s new love interest, Mary Day. What will psycho Alice have to say about that?

• Watch out for a double bill of Scott & Bailey this week, wrapping up what has been a terrific series (ITV, Wednesday 22 May, Thursday 23 May, 9pm). Here’s a video going behind the scenes of the finale…

Elementary, Sky Living’s US Sherlock Holmes update with Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu, will be filming the opening episode of season two in London — its first venture outside of New York. Sherlock is called to Blighty to revisit an old case and, while doing so, is forced to face his past. Meanwhile, Watson learns more about Holmes’s mysterious life…
Sky1's Mad Dogs series 3, Woody (Max Beesley), Quinn (Philip Glenister), Baxter (John Simm) and Rick (Marc Warren)
The future’s orange… but not so bright for the boys
Mad Dogs makes a welcome return to Sky One on Tuesday, 4 June. The holiday from hell continues for the four guys — Woody (Max Beesley), Quinn (Philip Glenister), Baxter (John Simm) and Rick (Marc Warren) — as we meet them locked up in a dilapidated prison in the desert, where torture and interrogation are the order of the day. Jaime Winstone is also behind bars, playing the feisty Mercedes… 

Tamzin Outhwaite is joining the cast of BBC1’s hit drama New Tricks, lining up alongside Dennis Waterman, Denis Lawson and Nicholas Lyndhurst. She’ll be stepping in as Amanda Redman and Alun Armstrong join James Bolam in leaving the hugely popular show. Former EastEnders star Tamzin will play DCI Sacha Millard. Armstrong is reported to be leaving the show in episode four of the tenth series, while Redman will depart during the eighth instalment.

Orphan Black, BBC America, starring Tatiana Maslany as Sarah Manning
Sarah takes on a dead woman’s identity
• BBC3 has acquired a new thriller called Orphan Black from its US wing, BBC America. Tatiana Maslany plays Sarah Manning, an orphan who witnesses the suicide of a woman who looks like her. Naturally, Sarah assumes her identity, bank account and boyfriend. Then she discovers she’s in the midst of a deadly conspiracy.

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