The Fall 2 trailer

Jamie Dornan, so unforgettable as the murderer in BBC2’s The Fall, alongside Gillian Anderson, says he was shaking when he read Allan Cubitt’s outline for the follow-up series. Here’s a taster…

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Best Crime Dramas of 2013

1 Breaking Bad

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

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


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

3 The Fall

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

Peaky Blinders

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


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

Justified 4

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


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


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


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

10 Arne Dahl

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

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

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

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

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The Fall episode 1 — What we’re watching

DSI Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) in BBC2's The Fall
Gillian Anderson as Stella Gibson. Pics: BBC

Writer/blogger Pat Nurse settles down to watch the opening episode of BBC2’s The Fall – through her fingers…

HANG ON to the edge of your seat, peek through your fingers if you must, but be prepared for a fast-paced, disturbing new thriller that will have you hooked.

The Fall, BBC2’s new crime drama set in Belfast, started on Monday night and sees Gillian Anderson as the Metropolitan police detective Stella Gibson sent over to review an unsolved murder case, which she soon suspects is part of a series of killings by the same person.   

The Irish assistant chief constable (John Lynch) doesn’t believe her — or doesn’t want to — but the viewer knows Gibson is right. We’ve met and followed the murderer Paul Spector, played with chilling perfection by actor Jamie Dornan.  

The serial killer Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan) in BBC2's The Fall
Stalker Paul Spector

In his ‘normal’ life he is a conventionally married father of two young children. In his other life, he is perverse, violent, and appears to relieve the stress of his demanding family with murder, torture and the control of professional young women that he stalks.  

It’s impossible not to feel a shudder as he enters victim Sarah Kay’s house, when she’s not in, and rummages through her underwear, leaving traces of his presence like a dog leaving a scent.  

Sarah, played by Laura Donnelly, finds her underwear laid out on her bed and calls the police, who don’t take her too seriously — until it’s too late.

Anderson plays a strong female character that reminded me of Helen Mirren’s Jane

Sarah Kay (Laura Donnelly) in BBC2's The Fall
Sarah is targeted

Tennison in Prime Suspect — parts of which were also written by The Fall writer Alan Cubit.  

Part two is on next Monday (BBC 2, 9pm). The victim will be found, Gibson’s worst fears that a serial killer is on the loose will be realised, but first Spector takes his time in killing and torturing the woman, so be prepared for gore — or do as I do, hide from the worst of it by peeking through your fingers. Then find a comedy to watch before bedtime. The Fall could well give you nightmares.  

• What did you think of The Fall? Comment below…

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The Fall, BBC2, with Gillian Anderson, Jamie Dornan PREVIEW

The Fall BBC2 The serial killer Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan) and DSI Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson)
Hunting the hunter – Gillian Anderson as DSI Gibson. Pics: BBC

Rating: ★★★★½

BBC2: Monday, 13 May, 9pm

StoryWhen a murder in Belfast remains unsolved, DSI Stella Gibson is brought in from the London Metropolitan Police to review the case. She soon suspects that the killing is related to another murder.

GILLIAN ANDERSON stars alongside relative newcomer Jamie Dornan in this complex and dark serial killer drama, set in Belfast.

While the fiendishly brilliant serial murderer has become a cop show cliche since The Silence of the Lambs, The Fall is a far more intriguing portrait of a lone killer operating under the guise of your normal family man.

Unfolding with visual flair (directed by Jakob Verbruggen) and with multi-layered characters written by Allan Cubitt (one of the Prime Suspect writers), this will fill the Monday night hole left by Broadchurch in the must-see TV stakes.

The Fall BBC2 DSI Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson)
Stella wants to head the investigation

The Fall is not a whodunit
Not that The Fall is a whodunit like the David Tennant/Olivia Colman series. It is more a how-will-they-catch-him gripper.

DSI Stella Gibson is called in from the Met in London to review a Belfast murder inquiry that has stalled. The female victim is the daughter of a politician.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland has investigated many sectarian killings down the years, but the sexually motivated murder is a crime they have little experience of. It is not long before Gibson suggests the killing may be linked to an earlier crime in which a woman’s bound body was found in her wardrobe.

Paul Spector – daddy and stalker

The Fall BBC2 The serial killer Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan) and his wife Sally Ann (Bronagh Waugh)
Family man Paul and his wife, Sally-Ann

The audience knows more than the characters in this drama, because we can see Paul Spector going about his daily routine as a grief counsellor, daddy, stalker and predator. As he talks through the grief of one bereaved couple in his office, he sits drawing nude sketches of the mother before him.

Outside of work he has in his sights a young female solicitor, a brunette whom we soon realise fits a type he is obsessed with, and he burgles her home, arranging her underwear on her bed for when she returns.

More chilling are the scenes of him at home, father to his children and husband to his wife, who’s a nurse. The monster hiding behind a mask.

The Fall vs Hannibal
Gibson, whom Gillian Anderson plays as an understated but formidable personality, starts to ruffle the local force with her theory that a sexual predator is at work. She puts herself forward to head the Task Force to hunt the hunter.

Solicitor Sarah is stalked

The story is plausible and down-to-earth, and doesn’t rely on mad plot twists to keep us engaged. And Dornan, the former Calvin Klein model perhaps best known as the sheriff from the fantasy series Once Upon a Time, is by turns warm, cold and intense as the devious, narcissistic, stalking, peeping killer.

The opening episode (of five) ends on a chilling note that will have viewers on the edge of their seats for more.

Incidentally, Gillian Anderson, who since her cult stardom in The X Files in the 1990s has been something of a BBC costume star in recent years (Bleak House, The Crimson Petal and the White, Great Expectations), can currently also be seen in Hannibal over on Sky Living. But while the Hannibal Lector show is full of gore and outlandishly twisted murders, The Fall is nearer the truth and a far more engrossing portrayal of a killer among us.

Cast: Gillian Anderson Stella Gibson, Jamie Dornan Paul Spector, Archie Panjabi Tanya Reed Smith, Bronagh Waugh Sally-Ann Spector, John Lynch Jim Burns, Niamh McGrady Danielle Ferrington, Laura Donnelly Sarah Kay, Frank McCusker Garrett Brink, Simon Delaney Jerry McElroy, Siobhan McSweeney Mary McCurdy, Gerard Jordan Brian Stone, Michael McElhatton Rob Breedlove, Ben Peel James Olson, Karen Hassen Annie Brawley, Lisa Hogg Marion Kay, Emmett Scanlan Glen Martin, Aisling Francios Katie

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Gillian Anderson in The Fall, Danny Miller joins Scott & Bailey, Win a Mayday DVD

• Here’s a glimpse of Gillian Anderson as DSI Stella Gibson, who will we see this year in BBC2’s The Fall. The series is set in Northern Ireland and will see Anderson’s character, who is on secondment from the London Met, called in to track down a serial killer who is terrorising Belfast. Jamie Dornan will play Paul Spector, the murderer.

• Former Emmerdale and Lightfields star Danny Miller will be joining Scott & Bailey on 24 April (pictured below). His character, DS Rob Waddington, is set to shake up things for Janet (Lesley Joseph) and Rachel (Suranne Jones), particularly Janet. She’s been filling in for months as acting detective sergeant, only to see Rob the young high-flyer nip in and take the job. ‘He’s learning on the job,’ Danny says. ‘Janet takes him under her wing and he appreciates her experience and intelligence. He doesn’t like confrontation and would rather sit down and work things out. Yet when he has to put his foot down, he will.’ Though S&B has been terrific, the male characters have all been either stupid, pathetic or lecherous. It will be interesting to see if Rob breaks the mould. And, when Janet and Rachel fall out later in the series, will Janet be able to turn to the younger man for advice?

It’s the Bafta TV Awards on 12 May at London’s Royal Festival Hall and there are some terrific crime dramas in the running. CrimeTimePreview will be cheering on Sean Bean and Stephen Graham, who were bold and brilliant in the first episode of the Accused series, Tracie’s Story, in which Bean played spectacularly against type as a transvestite in love. Sheridan Smith (Mrs Biggs) and Sienna Miller (The Girl) are among those scrapping for Leading Actress. Olivia Colman, who could probably be nominated for everything she’s in at the moment (particularly Broadchurch), is up for Supporting Actress in Accused. Scott & Bailey and Ripper Street are chasing Best Drama Series (surely Scott & Bailey is better). And a particular favourite at CrimeTimePreview HQ from 2012 was Murder, which is up for Best Single Drama. Directed by The Killing‘s Birger Larsen for BBC2, this was a gripping depiction of the messiness and ambiguities involved in a murder case. See Bafta’s full nomination list.

• It’s competition time! The first three crime TV fans who become a member of the CrimeTimePreview gang (see the column right), will receive copies of the sinister thriller series Mayday. The complete series of the BBC drama starring Peter Firth and Sophie Okonedo was released this week, costing £19.99. It was written by the team responsible for that other creepy detective series Whitechapel, Ben Court and Caroline Ip, and told the story of the residents of a small town coping with the disappearance of a teenager who was supposed to head the Mayday parade. The woods outside of the town are menacing, while several residents have secrets to hide. So what happened to the May Queen? The DVD’s special features include The Making of Mayday, Cast Filmographies and a Picture Gallery. 
This offer is open to UK residents only. The first three people who become Members of CrimeTimePreview (Join this site, column, right) will be posted free copies of Mayday. The selectees will need to provide their postal address. Deadline: Saturday, 20 April. No prize alternatives. If anyone registers but declines the Mayday DVD, an alternative winner will be selected.

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