Save Me, Sky Atlantic, Lennie James, Suranne Jones

Save Me, Sky Atlantic

Stephen Graham, Lennie James and Suranne Jones

An estranged father feels compelled to join the hunt for his missing daughter in this London-set thriller

★★★★ Sky Atlantic, Wednesday, 28 February, 9pm

NELSON ‘NELLY’ ROWE is a chancer, barfly and bit of a rogue. However, he’s shaken out of his comfort zone when he is accused of abducting his estranged 13-year-old daughter, Jody.

The reason he doesn’t see Jody is because she is the result of a summer fling years ago. Her mother, Claire, has not forgotten Nelly, however. She is convinced he has snatched her girl.

Reunited – Suranne Jones as Claire McGory and Lennie James as ‘Nelly’ Rowe

Nelly suddenly realises what he has missed by ignoring Jody. Arrested and horrified to be considered a kidnapper, he resolves to find out where she is.

Suranne Jones and Stephen Graham

This six-parter is nicely written by its star, Lennie James, here a long way from The Walking Dead. The setting is a south London council estate, where life revolves around the local boozer.

The top-notch case includes Suranne Jones as Claire, and Stephen Graham as ‘Melon’, the friend with a secret. Jason Flemyng plays Tam, Nelly’s cross-dressing ally, and Susan Lynch is Stace, landlady of the Palm Tree pub.

A twist to the story is the new man in Claire’s life, Barry (actor Barry Ward). Jody’s adoptive father warns Nelly off, but he appears to have serious problems of his own with some unsavoury characters.

Lennie James as Nellie

It’s a refreshing change to see a drama that is not about lovely middle-class types. These are ordinary folk at the lower end of the social scale, but the characters are well realised and pose intriguing questions.

Spooked – Stephen Graham as Fabio ‘Melon’ Melanzana

What has happened to Jody? Has she fallen victim to a paedophile on the estate? Or is Barry in some way involved?

Lennie James has a good appreciation of this group of characters, most of all Nelly. Fifteen years before Nelly would have ruled the Palm Tree and been a big hit with ladies.

He’s a badly faded local face now. Seeing whether he will be able to finally redeem himself should make Save Me a gripping series.

Scott & Bailey 5, ITV

RED PRODUCTION COMPANY PRESENTS SCOTT AND BAILEY FOR ITV Pictured: LESLEY SHARP as DC Janet Scott and SURANNE JOMNES as ADI Rachel Bailey. This image is the copyright of ITV and must only be used in relation to SCOTT AND BAILEY.

Close partners: Lesley Sharp as Janet Scott and Suranne Jones as Rachel Bailey

A three-part special that ups the ante for Rachel and Janet as they deal with a particularly chilling murder spree

★★★★ ITV, Wednesday, 13 April, 9pm

IT’S ALL CHANGE in this engrossing cop drama. DCI Gill Murray has retired and Acting Detective Inspector Rachel Bailey is back from a vice squad secondment in London. Detective Constable Janet Scott’s romance nearly ended in marriage, but has now simply ended.

There is also some awkwardness as they get reacquainted, because hotheaded Rachel (Suranne Jones) has not been great at returning texts and messages from Janet (Lesley Sharp).

In this three-part story, the pair must soon reunite to take on a sinister internet investigation. Using her newly acquired Vice authority, Rachel accesses the Dark Net and discovers that a murder is part of a disturbing scene in which people brag about committing murders and challenge each other to chalk up their own killings.

Janet’s daughter is in big trouble

RED PRODUCTION COMPANY PRESENTS SCOTT AND BAILEY FOR ITV Pictured: LESLEY SHARP as DC Janet Scott ,JUDITH BARKER as Dorothy and HARRIET WATERS as Tasie Scott. This image is the copyright of ITV and must only be used in relation to SCOTT AND BAILEY.

Home life: Janet and her mum Dorothy are worried about Tasie

Scott & Bailey has a rap sheet of gruesome crime portrayals – remember mass killer Joe Bevan from series 3? – and this is another powerful story. Having it play out over three episodes gives writer Lee Warburton (the Corrie actor-turned-writer, who penned episodes for S&B 4) the chance to develop fully the inter-office personal dramas, the frictions between chalk-and-cheese Scott and Bailey, and the intricacies of the murder hunt.

And there is plenty at stake for the characters. There is a death among the Syndicate 9 team, Janet’s confronted by her teenage daughter Taisie getting into serious trouble with the police, and Rachel must deal with the fallout from her reckless behaviour in London.

In addition, there’s a new team member to get up Rachel’s nose, DC Anna Ram (Jing Lusi). Meanwhile, Pippa Haywood becomes a regular cast member as Rachel’s boss, DSI Julie Dobson.

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Scott & Bailey, ITV, with Lesley Sharp, Suranne Jones PREVIEW

LESLEY SHARP as DC Janet Scott and AMELIA BULLMORE as DCI Gill Murray and SURANNE JONES as DS Rachel Bailey
Back in action – Lesley Sharp, Amelia Bullmore and Suranne Jones. Pics: ITV

Rating: ★★★

ITV: starts Wednesday, 10 September, 9pm

Story: After falling out with each other so badly in the last series, Rachel and Janet resolve to move forward and to try to make something of their careers. While they are both preoccupied with aiming for promotion to sergeant, however, a vulnerable young adult goes missing…

SCOTT & BAILEY returns with another captivating episode – is a good sign for series four. Rachel and Janet have decided to set their recent bust-up aside – along with their less than dazzling personal

DCI Murray at the quarry 

lives – to focus on making something of their careers.

While they are on speaking terms again, both are also focused on promotions to the rank of sergeant. As they face their promotion interviews, the story of the week is about the kidnap of a vulnerable young adult called Robin McKendrick.

The series’ popularity is probably down to a combination of good writing and acting from well-liked stars Suranne Jones, Lesley Sharp and Amelia Bullmore (who also writes this episode), and the skill with which it interweaves the police procedural stuff with their personal stories.

Bittersweet twist for Rachel and Janet

It is not as distinctive or powerful as Happy Valley, The Fall or Broadchurch, but it is looking down on Death in Paradise and Lewis from a great height.

Part of its winning formula is also having characters who feel familiar. Most viewers know a steady

SURANNE JONES as DS Rachel Bailey, DELROY BROWN as DC Lee Broadhurst, LESLEY SHARP as DC Janet Scott, DAVID PROSHO as DC Ian Mitchell, AMELIA BULLMORE as DCI Gill Murray, TONY MOONEY as DC Pete Readyough. L-R Front Row: DANNY MILLER as DS Rob Waddington and DANNY WEBB as DC Chris Crowley.
Debriefing for Syndicate 9

Janet (Lesley Sharp) – here coping with warring daughters and her ‘hindrance’ of a mother following the collapse of her marriage – as well as a reckless Rachel (Suranne Jones), who is trying to move on from her impetuous marriage and become the responsible, instinctive and successful detective she could be.

There is a bittersweet twist in the opening episode about their bids to become sergeant, and again the characters respond to the outcome in a way that is understandable while tinged with sadness for one of them.

Woman missing for 23 years

The other stand-out aspect to the shows is that the cases are not run-of-the-mill whodunits. There is usually some level of insight into the victims’/families’ stories and social context to the drama. And in

 LESLEY SHARP as DC Janet Scott and DELROY BROWN as DC Lee Broadhurst
Jane and Lee Broadhurst looking for the missing man

the last series there was the recurring and chilling story of the apparently bed-ridden man whose elderly wife suffered a gruesome death.

This week’s story of the missing young man is all the sadder when Rachel visits his horrible parents and finds their poor son was neglected and effectively alone in the world. While searching a quarry for the guy’s body, however, the team discovers another corpse first – one that guvnor Gill Murray (Bullmore) suspects may be that of a missing woman called Mandy Sweeting, who’s been missing for 23 years.

Which sets things up nicely for next week.

Check out these links…
Series four of Scott & Bailey announced
Scott & Bailey Facebook page
Series three preview on CrimeTimePreview

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A Touch of Cloth 3, Sky1, John Hannah, Suranne Jones, Karen Gillan PREVIEW

Guilty party – Cloth and the gang. Pics: Sky1

Rating: ★★★½

Sky1: starts Saturday, 9 August, 9pm

Story: It took DCI Jack Cloth a while to come to terms with his wife’s murder – he barely remembers her name these days – and now he’s hit with the news that his brother, Terry, has been killed.

A TOUCH OF CLOTH has everything you could want from a gritty crime drama – tortured maverick cop, gruesome forensics, twisting plot. And a town called Funtcuck.

Charlie Brooker’s criminally stupid piss-take returns to truncheon the genre into submission again with ridiculous cases, silly gags and wickedly straight performances.

Subtle and suave it ain’t – more a shotgun blast of every cop procedural cliche and suspect gag the writers could round up.

Too Cloth for Comfort

Cloth finds his long lost brother

Many jokes escape without detection, but a lot are guilty of inducing a spluttered chortle – and then making you feel guilty that you could be so puerile.

Crime shows are this site’s bread and butter, of course, but even we think there are an awful lot of rubbish cop series around. You know the ones – grumpy detective with a sidekick, silly tracking shots, wild deductions that solve the crime, forensic nonsense, ham-fisted plot recaps.

All these get worked over in this two-parter, Too Cloth for Comfort, along with some other well-deserving targets (Piers Morgan in particular).

Karen Gillan as Kerry Newblood

John Hannah and Suranne Jones as DCI John Cloth and DI Anne Oldman (pronounced Old-Man, of course) both do a fine job of snitching on the conventions of the straight cop beats they’ve worked in recent years. Hannah was seen recently in ITV’s The Widower and Rebus before that, and Jones will soon be back in the excellent Scott & Bailey.

Doctor Who‘s ex Karen Gillan joins the carry-on as new recruit Kerry Newblood (see what I mean about unsubtle).

‘Welcome to the rest of your life, welcome to hell,’ the hardbitten Cloth tells her.

And Adrian Dunbar – a refugee from another cop series, Line of Duty – also turns up as a suspect.

Danes and pathology

Oldman (Suranne Jones) and Newblood (Karen Gillan)

The plot? Cloth’s brother is found murdered in a forest. But that’s just an excuse for lines such as, ‘He was the best lover I ever had – until it went pair-shaped.’ Or some very sharp scenes in a country pub in Funtcuck and the pathologist’s mortuary.

The crime genre badly needs cleaning up, and it’s good to Jack Cloth and his squad of cliche-busters are back on the scene.

Cast: John Hannah DCI Jack Cloth, Suranne Jones DI Anne Oldman, Julian Rhind-Tutt ACC Tom Boss, Navin Chowdhry DC Asap Qureshi, Adrian Bower DC Des Hairihan, Daisy Beaumont Dr Natasha Sachet, Karen Gillan Kerry Newblood, Adrian Dunbar Damien Vull

Check out this link…
A Touch of Cloth on Facebook
A Touch of Cloth on Sky1

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A Touch of Cloth II, Sky1, with John Hannah, Suranne Jones, Anna Chancellor, Stephen Dillane PREVIEW

A Touch of Cloth Series 2.Episode Number and Name..NAvin Chowdhry, Adrian Bowher, John Hannah, Suranne Jones & Julian Rhind-Tutt...© Endemol UK LTD.
Cop this – Navin Chowdhry, Adrian Bowher, John Hannah, Suranne Jones and Julian Rhind-Tutt. Pic: BSkyB

Rating: ★★★★

Sky1: start Sunday, 25 August, 9pm

Story: Cloth is done. The brilliant but tortured detective has quit the force, never to return, completely out of the game. Well, until a bank robbery-gone-wrong brings him back into play.

IT WILL BE HARD for British TV to dream up another series about an embittered, hard-drinking maverick detective after Cloth. This goes into every crack of the hackneyed cop procedural genre and wipes the cliches off with aplomb.

Charlie Brooker and co-writers Jason Hazeley, Joel Morris and Ben Caudell have brought back their

A Touch of Cloth Series 2.Episode Number and Name..Macratty (Stephen Dillan) and Jill Titts (Susy Kane)..© Endemol UK LTD.
Jill Titts (Susy Kane) and Macratty (Stephen Dillan) 

wacky lone-wolf cop for a second series, and once again a terrific cast keeps a straight face while playing silly buggers with our most revered TV archetype.

Predatory lesbian and a whisky optic

How John Hannah as Cloth and Suranne Jones as his partner Oldman (pronounced Old-man) keep a straight face is a model of disciplined acting in the face of terrible provocation (though the out-takes must be interesting).

They’re joined by Julian Rhind-Tutt as senior cop Tom Boss (‘I want them caught and caught hard’), with Anna Chancellor in fruity form as predatory lesbian and mayoral candidate Hope Goodgirl, along with Game of Thrones‘ Stephen Dillane as gangster Macratty.

Cloth, of course, has left the force after his boss, Tom Boss, killed his wife, and he is now driving a taxi, which is fitted out with a whisky optic on the front dash board for the drowning of sorrows and bitterness. That is until a bank robbery results in the death of former EastEnder-turned-cop Todd Carty, and Cloth makes a comeback.

Policing on the edge

‘Jack, don’t forget which side you’re on,’ says Old-man.

A Touch of Cloth Series 2.Episode Number and Name..Todd Carty 2...© Endemol UK LTD.
Todd Carty to the rescue

‘I’m not on a side,’ Cloth replies. ‘I’m on the edge.’

Smutty, silly, and full of sight gags, A Touch of Cloth gives the cop-show cliches a good truncheon battering. And while not every joke hits home, the laughs out-weigh the duds.

‘You can tell your grandkids about this,’ a bank robber says to a bank customer whom he is holding hostage.

‘I’m gay,’ says the hostage.

‘Well… you can turn it into a musical.’

Cast: John Hannah DI Jack Cloth, Suranne Jones DI Anne Oldman, Navin Chowdhry DC Asap Qureshi, Adrian Bower DC Des Hairihan, Julian Rhind-Tutt ACC Tom Boss, Daisy Beaumont Dr Natasha Suchet, Anna Chancellor Hope Goodgirl, Stephen Dillane Macratty, Todd Carty Todd Carty

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Scott & Bailey 3, ITV, with Suranne Jones, Lesley Sharp PREVIEW

Rating: ★★★★½

ITV: starts Wednesday, 3 April, 9pm

Story: A worried neighbour knocks on Janet Scott’s door one night, concerned about the smell coming from a house down the road…

Manchester detectives Scott & Bailey quickly won a following among audiences and critics alike, clocking up between six and eight million viewers and winning the Royal Television Society’s script writing award for Sally Wainwright last November.

Good as the first two series were, however, series three gets off to a blistering start and could be the best yet. No sooner are the credits done than Janet is saying to Rachel in the Ladies, ‘This woman comes knocking on our door at half past eight last night. She lives down the road. I don’t know her particularly well…’

And we’re straight into an absorbing case that is horrific, sad and mystifying despite the apparent everyday nature of the tragedy.

Strange smell from a creepy houseThe neighbour says there’s a smell coming from a house that Janet has always found creepy. When the uniforms break the door down they find 75-year-old Eunice’s body at the top of the stairs – and her head at the bottom.

In the upstairs bedroom is close-to-death, bed-ridden husband Joe. He’s emaciated and barely able to speak.

It turns out Eunice was hit over the head. In a bid to discover who killed her, Rachel and Janet set out to trace the couple’s four children, who it seems haven’t visited their parents in a long time.

Nicola Walker as Helen
They finally locate daughter Helen, who is working on the makeup counter of a department store. Helen’s response to news of her mother’s death is distracted and muted. Upset she is not – ‘I don’t have anything to do with my parents,’ she says. ‘They’re of no interest to me.’  It’s a stunning and eerie performance by Nicola Walker as Helen.

What unfolds is a shocking story of evil, made totally gripping by sublime acting. George Costigan as Joe is a disturbing portrayal, and with Nicola Walker he makes this a powerful opening to the series. And watch out because the character of Helen turns up again later in the series in another tragic story.

Suranne Jones and her former Corrie colleague Sally Lindsay dreamed up this Cagney & Lacey-inspried series, in a bid to create prominent female characters, and a big element of its success is that the characters of Rachel Bailey and Janet Scott are as important as the cases featured each week.

Rachel’s bored with her marriage – after three months
So, Rachel is only three months into her marriage and finds herself bored with dishy but dull hubby Sean, while Janet, whose marriage is over though she still shares a roof with Ade, is upset that he is dating and she fancies no one.

Tracie Bennett joins the cast as Rachel’s drunken, boob-flashing mum, further adding to the detective’s headaches. Meanwhile, Janet is acting as sergeant but is in two minds about whether to take on the extra responsibilities permanently. Another new cast member in episode four (Danny Miller) four will settle this issue for her…

Amelia Bullmore is back in tough boss mode as DCI Gill Murray, and Pippa Haywood is again unrecognisable from her daffy role as Harriet in Prisoners’ Wives, here reappearing as the formidable and acerbic Detective Superintendent Julie Dodson.

It’s a great ensemble cast, and on the evidence of episode one, stands alongside Broadchurch as the best  UK crime drama currently on telly.

Cast: Suranne Jones DC Rachel Bailey, Lesley Sharp DC Janet Scott, Amelia Bullmore DCI Gill Murray, Danny Miller DS Rob Waddington (eps 4 – 8), Ben Batt DC Kevin Lumb, David Prosho DC Ian Mitchell, Tony Mooney DC Pete Readyough, Delroy Brown DC Lee Broadhurst, Nicola Walker Helen Bartlett, George Costigan Joe Bevan, Tracie Bennett Sharon Bailey, Sean Maguire PC Sean McCartney, Tony Pitts Adrian Scott, Judith Barker Dorothy Parsons, Judy Holt Scary Mary Jackson

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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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Scott & Bailey 2 – Suranne Jones, Lesley Sharp PREVIEW

Bailey (Suranne Jones) and Scott (Lesley Sharp). Pics: ITV

Rating: ★★★½

ITV1, starts Monday, 12 March, 9pm 

Story: The detective constables Scott and Bailey return to duty on Manchester’s Major Incident Team. Rachel Bailey’s estranged brother turns up on her doorstep. She takes him in with a warning that he must put his criminal past behind him. Janet Scott tells her husband, Adrian, to leave the house after he rows with her mother. Meanwhile, the badly burned body of a disabled man turns up.

Sisters are doing it for themselves in a range of new hit dramas on UK television just now. Scott & Bailey has women all along its production line and returns after a quiet launch last year that still managed to wow an audience of 9.4 million viewers. That’s pretty huge in these multi-channel days.

It was created and written by Sally Wainwright (At Home with the Braithwaites) and has a good cast led by Suranne Jones (the former Corrie actress who came up the idea for S&B with Sally Lindsay, who also stars here) and Lesley Sharp.

A witness objects to Rachel’s line of questioning

Women on top
Their boss is Detective Chief Inspector Gill Murray (Amelia Bullmore, who has also written episode seven of this series), and we meet her colleague and best mate, the formidable DCI Julie Dodson (Pippa Haywood, playing a vastly different character from mousey Harriet in Prisoners’ Wives).

Men pop up too. They tend to be the immature, dumb detectives, the nagging husband or inadequate brother. There must be quite a few of those around, judging by the loud chord S&B seems to have struck with female viewers.

So what are the unique selling points of S&B (apart from lacklustre men)? First, it’s strongly character-focused. The opening episode is 10 minutes old before it gets into any serious detective work.

Troublesome brother
Rachel’s estranged brother, 28-year-old Dominic, appears out of the rain one night. She reluctantly takes him in on the proviso that he stirs clear of armed robbery. He seems too reticent and inept for that line of criminality. This is a bloke who can’t put a pan on the cooker without nearly burning down the flat.

Meanwhile, Janet’s husband with the appalling haircut is kicking off about having the mother-in-law staying with them. When he flounces out during a row, Janet tells him not to come back.

‘Men are just shit, aren’t they,’ Rachel says to Janet. And she should know, having been dumped in series one by that caddish Rupert Graves just when she was expecting an engagement ring.

Marriage troubles await Scott

Burned bodies
The show’s other strong point is that it avoids the forensic porn so many shows thrive on. The case being investigated here in a two-part story is about a disabled man’s burned body being found, soon followed up by another burned corpse.

Both men were tortured. Now, if this were Silent Witness we’d be taken on a pointless fingertip journey through each victim’s viscera. S&B doesn’t confuse voyeuristic gore with dramatic storytelling and the visual horror is never exploited.

Suranne Jones and Lesley Sharp are appealing as Britain’s very own Cagney and Lacey – they’re fine performers and dissimilar enough to make believable friends. And the moments that stand out are the small, truthful scenes, such as Scott and Bailey paying a painful visit to the wife of the second victim.

Sexy colleague
It’s a moment that says something about their tough job, and the women doing it.

If only the men would get their act together. In episode two Rachel finds herself waking up next to a sexy colleague and old flame. Now, what are the chances of Sean turning out to a faithful, witty and thoroughly decent chap?

Cast: Suranne Jones DC Rachel Bailey, Lesley Sharp DC Janet Scott, Amelia Bullmore DCI Gill Murray, Nicholas Gleaves DS Andy Roper, Ben Batt DC Kevin Lumb, David Prosho DC Ian Mitchell, Tony Mooney DC Pete Readyough, Delroy Brown DC Lee Broadhurst, Sally Lindsay Alison, Vincent Regan DCS Dave Murray, Tony Pitts Adrian, Pippa Haywood DCI Julie Dodson, Liam Boyle Dominic

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