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.
Disappointments…
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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The Honourable Woman, BBC1, Maggie Gyllenhaal

MAGGIE GYLLENHALL is THE HONOURABLE WOMAN (Nessa Stein) on BBC2
It’s a dangerous road for The Honourable Woman (Maggie Gyllenhaal). Pics: BBC

Rating: ★★★★½

BBC2: starts Thursday, 3 July, 9pm

Story: Nessa Stein’s father was a Zionist arms procurer. As children, she and her brother Ephra witness his assassination. Later, as an adult, inheriting her father’s company, she inverts its purpose from supplying arms to laying broadband cable networks between Israel and the West Bank – a decision that makes her many powerful enemies…

THE SHADOW LINE was not as big a hit as Broadchurch or Happy Valley, but the BBC2 cop thriller from producer/writer/director Hugo Blick was one of the most distinctive and stunning crime series of 2012.

It has been a tantalising wait to see what he would come up with next, particularly when a stellar cast was announced for his follow-up, The Honourable Woman, with names such as Maggie Gyllenhaal, Andrew Buchan, Stephen Rea, Katharine Parkinson and more.

Well, the eight-parter is now just a few weeks away, and I can confirm that it’s another superb intrigue from Blick, though different from The Shadow Line.

Maggie Gyllenhall as Nessa

Maggie Gyllenhall, with a very good Brit accent for her first TV project, is Nessa Stein, who has inherited her assassinated Israeli father’s business. Where he dealt in guns, Nessa embarks on a more ethical approach to business, installing broadband cable to Palestinians and Israelis.

Nessa Stein (MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL) The Honourable Woman BBC
Nessa is the enigma at the centre of the thriller

This desire to build connectivity and understanding is worthy, but it generates for Nessa a hornets’ nest of enemies and deadly dealings. To start, when she selects a Palestinian businessman to take on the next phase of the project, he commits suicide on the day she announces the deal.

Suspicious? Well, the Israeli she had previously worked with is enraged, the British secret service suspect Mossad of murder, while the Metropolitan police, the FBI and US military also stick their various oars in.

Hugo Blick’s the master of TV suspense

The first episode pulls off the feat of being hard to follow but gripping at the same time. And once again Blick proves inspired at creating a disorientating, threatening mood that draws you in.

By episode two, the story is easier to follow but still full of mystery and danger. Blick is the master of the set piece moments, and here there is a terrific sequence in which an FBI agent is not sure if she has been betrayed and has to go on the run. The writer/director loves telling the story visually, played out with music or a voiceover.

Blick also clearly relishes writing roles for Stephen Rea, who was breathtaking as the menacing Gatehouse in The Shadow Line. He steals the show again, this time as the soon-to-be-sacked spy Sir Hugh Hayden-Hoyle.

Lindsay Duncan and Janet McTeer

If he’s not delivering killer lines – ‘Haven’t seen anything like that since David Nixon and Ali Bongo’ – he’s pursing his lips and raising a dubious eyebrow. His scenes with Lindsay Duncan (who plays his ex-wife) and Janet McTeer (boss and ex-lover) are lip-smackingly delicious.

While The Shadow Line also had many scenes that had to be relished and was hugely entertaining, it stretched a little too far by the end.

The Honourable Woman is just as riveting, but with its interplay between several fascinating women – particularly Nessa and the nanny Atika, who were once kidnapped together and are haunted by it – and its tangled plot, it will be interesting to see if Blick’s latest drama will be resolved with more cohesion.

Either way, it is a further sign that we’re being spoiled by a glut of excellent TV dramas right now, no doubt fuelled by The Killing, Breaking Bad and other imports.

Cast: Maggie Gyllenhaal Nessa Stein, Lubna Azabal Atika Halabi, Eve Best Monica Chatwin, Andrew Buchan Ephra Stein, Lindsay Duncan Anjelica Hayden-Hoyle, Janet McTeer Dame Julia Walsh, Tobias Menzies Nathaniel Bloom, Igal Naor Shlomo Zahary, Genevieve O’Reilly Frances Pirsig, Katherine Parkinson Rachel Stein, Stephen Rea Sir Hugh Hayden-Hoyle

See also…
The Shadow Line review
Hugo Blick interviewed by Bafta

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New TV Crime Dramas 2014

2014 has an amazing variety of new crime series coming, from the USA and the UK. Some are old faves, but others are new and look pretty amazing…


The Honourable Woman 
BBC2, Air date: 2014     
Maggie Gyllenhaal  
Oscar-nominee Maggie Gyllenhaal stars in Hugo Blick’s first new project since the fantastic The Shadow Line. This is described as a fast-paced, international thriller. Nessa turns away from her father’s trade as a Zionist arms procurer, when she inherits his company after his assassination. Instead, she supplies high-spec data cabling networks between Israel and the West Bank – a move that has unforeseen ramifications. This could be a real gripper if it’s anything like as good as The Shadow Line.
Anticipation factor ★★★★½

Fortitude 

Sky Atlantic, Air date: autumn 2014
Sofie Grabol, Michael Gambon, Stanley Tucci
The Killing‘s Sofie Grabol has signed to star in what Sky Atlantic’s calling its ‘biggest drama to date’. Fortitude is a 13-parter featuring Michael Gambon and Stanley Tucci. Created and written by Simon Donald, the man behind C4’s Low Winter Sun, which was remade by AMC, it will start filming in London and Reykjavik later this year. Fortitude is set in the midst of a polar landscape, one of the safest towns on earth. There has never been a violent crime there. Until now. When a British research scientist is murdered, the crime touches everyone in the close-knit community. Sofie Grabol will play the town’s mayor.
Anticipation factor: ★★★★½




True Detective
Sky Atlantic, Air date: Feb 2014
Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, Michelle Monaghan
Two detectives’ lives collide when a 17-year-old case is reopened into the gruesome murder of a prostitute. Their often strained relationship and backstories will be the thread through this anthology series from HBO, home of The Sopranos, The Wire, Game of Thrones etc. And with these Hollywood big-hitters, it’s a must-see.
Anticipation factor ★★★★½

The Fall 2
BBC2, Air date: 2014
Gillian Anderson, Jamie Dornan, John Lynch
This was BBC2’s biggest new drama launch for a decade – and rightly so. Writer Allan Cubitt created a three-dimensional and unforgettable villain in Paul Spector and a powerful investigator in detective superintendent Stella Gibson. Producer Gub Neal has already told CrimeTimePreview, ‘It’s going to be great.’
Anticipation factor ★★★★½

The Following
Sky Atlantic, Air date: February 2014
Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy, Shawn Ashmore
Season two of the serial killer thriller, with Ryan Hardy (Bacon) and Mike Weston (Ashmore) reunited in their bid to help the FBI to recapture evil genius Joe Carroll (Purefoy). Sam Underwood (Hmeland) joins the cast as a young guy who may just be one of Carroll’s followers.
Anticipation factor ★★★½


Line of Duty 2
BBC2, Air date: 2014   
Keeley Hawes, Jessica Raine, Robert Lindsay, Martin Compston, Vicky McClure, Adrian Dunbar
Line Of Duty was BBC2’s biggest new drama series for 10 years, averaging 4.2 million viewers, and it returns for a second run. Written by Jed Mercurio,  series two features a new police corruption story told over six one-hour episodes. It opens with the ambush of a police convoy in which three police officers are killed and a protected witness seriously injured. The sole surviving police officer is Detective Inspector Lindsay Denton (Keeley Hawes). Deputy Chief Constable Mike Dryden (Robert Lindsay) takes personal charge, assigning AC-12 to the case. Detective Sergeant Steve Arnott (Martin Compston), Detective Constable Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) and Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) are joined by newly appointed Detective Constable Georgia Trotman (Jessica Raine) to investigate a complex case.

Anticipation factor ★★★½

Turks & Caicos
BBC2, Air date: 2014       
Bill Nighy, Christopher Walken, Winona Ryder, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Ewen Bremner, James Naughton
Turks & Caicos is the second part of David Hare’s Worricker Trilogy – Salting the Battlefield will conclude it, and both follow Page Eight, which aired on BBC2 in 2011. Johnny Worricker has walked out of his job at MI5, going to the airport apparently to choose his destination at random. But his presence on the obscure islands of Turks & Caicos brings him a new problem: he is being forced by the CIA to deal with a group of ambiguous Americans who are on the islands for a high-level conference on the world financial crisis. 
Anticipation factor ★★★★

Common
BBC1, Air date: 2014
Daniel Mays, Nico Mirallegro, Jodhi May
The new 90-minute film by Jimmy McGover (The Lakes, Cracker and The Accused) is set in the north west of England and explores the UK’s controversial Joint Enterprise Law. A young man gives friends an impromptu lift to a pizza parlour and finds himself charged with murder. The film opens as three young men hurry to a parked car, with 17-year-old Johnjo at the wheel, as they pile in and speed off in sheer panic following a fatal stabbing in the local pizza parlour. The lives of the four young men, the lives of those they love and the lives of the victim’s family will never be the same again.
Anticipation factor ★★★★½

Southland 5
More4, Air date: early 2014 
Michael Cudlitz, Shawn Hatosy, Benjamin McKenzie, Regina King
The final series of what has been a wonderful, breathtaking ride with the cops patrolling the mean streets of LA. Southland has gathered has been tucked away on More4 and gathered few rave reviews, but it is a superb, gripping drama. Savour the final 10 instalments, as John Cooper takes a new rookie on patrol, and the brilliant detective Lydia Adams struggles to care for her newborn baby.
Anticipation factor ★★★★½
Braquo 3
Fox UK, Air date: Spring 2014
Jean-Hughes Anglade, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Karole Rocher
The ball-breaking cops from this French drama return in another eight episodes of mayhem, picking up after the explosion of Theo’s car at the end of season two.
Anticipation factor ★★★½

Broadchurch
ITV, Air date: late 2014?
Olivia Colman
Perhaps 2013’s biggest and most talked-about crime series will return. Olivia Colman has confirmed that she will reprise her role as Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller, who discovered her husband had killed schoolboy Danny in series one. Rumour is that series two could be a prequel, perhaps recounting the old unfinished case of Detective Inspector Alec Hardy – played by David Tennant (who will be reprising the role in a US version of Broadchurch). So far, Tennant’s participation in series two has not been confirmed.
Anticipation factor ★★★★½
Glue
E4, Air date: 2014

A new crime drama is to hit E4, the network for the youth audience, from Bafta-winning writer Jack Thorne. Needless to say, it will probably be a little edgy. Glue is a series about murder and secrets. When the body of Caleb, a teenage traveller, is found dead underneath the wheels of a tractor, the village’s inhabitants, his friends, are forced to open up their world and watch their secrets spill out…Anticipation factor ★★★½

The Game
BBC1, Air date: 2014      
Brian Cox, Tom Hughes, Shaun Dooley
When a defecting KGB officer reveals the existence of a devastating Soviet plot, codenamed Operation Glass, the charismatic but paranoid head of MI5, known simply as Daddy (Cox), assembles a secret committee to investigate. Written and created by Toby Whithouse (Being Human), this six-parter looks like appointment viewing.
Anticipation factor ★★★★½

Happy Valley
A 6×60 series written by Sally Wainwright (Last Tango In Halifax, Scott & Bailey) and made by Red Production Company.
Catherine Crowther is the sergeant on duty when flustered, nervous-looking accountant Colin Weatherill comes into her West Yorkshire police station to report a crime. He’s reticent about the details and Colin loses his nerve. The crime he was trying to report was Colin’s own brain-child, a plot to kidnap his boss’s daughter and keep enough of the ransom to put his kids through private school. And now local drug king-pin David Cowgill has put the plan into action, and Colin’s fantasy has become a grim and dangerous reality. The botched kidnapping of eccentric, angry Ann Gallagher and its fallout unfolds… Catherine is used to picking up the pieces of everyone else’s lives but the hunt for Ann Gallagher will get right under her skin. Catherine becomes convinced that only by finding Ann alive and bringing her captors to justice can she avenge the death of her daughter.

Hinterland
BBC4, Air date: 2014
Richard Harrington
A new detective series based in the coastal Welsh town of Aberystwyth, set against the backdrop of mountainous hinterland, isolated farms and close-knit villages. DCI Tom Mathias (Richard Harrington, Lark Rise to Candleford) is a brilliant but troubled man on the run from his past. Having abandoned his life in London, he finds himself holed up in a trailer park on the outskirts of town. Together with hometime girl DI Mared Rhys, he forms an engaging partnership…
Anticipation factor ★★★½

Better Call Saul 
AMC/Netflix, Air date: 2015?
Bob Odenkirk
Breaking Bad spin-off, which could be fun – or rubbish. Saul Goodman, the shyster lawyer, is the star of the show, and creator Vince Gilligan is hoping to lure BB’s Aaron Paul for a cameo.
Anticipation factor ★★★

Breakdown
BBC1, Air date: 2014
No cast announced yet
An eight-parter, written by Jack Williams and Harry Williams. When his son is snatched on holiday in France, Tony’s exhaustive search fractures his marriage and destroys his life. Exploring the emotional cost of hope and finding when to let go, this relationship thriller shows the impact of a child’s abduction.
Anticipation factor ★★★½

The Interceptor

BBC1, Air date: 2014
No cast announced yet
Eight-parter, written by Tony Saint (Margaret Thatcher: Long Walk To Finchley; Strike Back). A high-octane eight-part series about a top secret, state-of-the-art law enforcement team whose mission is to hunt down some of Britain’s most dangerous and ruthless criminals. 
Anticipation factor ★★★½

Salamander
BBC4, Air date: 2014
Following the huge success of Nordic noir, Italian and French series on BBC4, the channel has signed this 12-part Belgian thriller. n a private Brussels bank, 66 safe-deposit boxes are raided. The owner of the bank wants to keep the thefts under wraps but police inspector Paul Gerardi catches wind of the affair. With his incorruptible, old-school morals and devil-may-care attitude, Gerardi throws himself into the investigation
Anticipation factor ★★★½

Shetland
BBC1, Air date: 2014
Douglas Henshall
Shetland has been re-commissioned for a second series. Following its successful two-part debut last year, Shetland will return for a second run as a bigger six-part series with Douglas Henshall returning to the lead role as Detective Jimmy Perez. Brian Cox and Julie Graham will be joining the cast. Cox plays Magnus Bain, a solitary man and social outsider who finds himself the focus of a murder investigation.
Julie Graham plays procurator fiscal Rhona Kelly – a new returning character who will make her mark in the first and third stories of the series.
Anticipation factor ★★★½




Babylon
C4, Air date: 2014
James Nesbitt, Paterson Joseph, Jill Halfpenny, Brit Marling
Danny Boyle’s cop-based comedy. Nesbitt plays Richard Miller, chief constable of the London police who hires Marling’s American PR boss to modernise the force. It’s been written by Peep Show and Four Lions creators Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong.
Anticipation factor ★★★

DCI Banks 3
ITV, Air date: 2014
Stephen Tompkinson, Andrea Lowe, Caroline Catz
Six-parter with two episodes devoted to each story by author Peter Robinson – Wednesday’s Child, Piece of My Heart and Bad Boy.
Anticipation factor ★★★

Fleming

Sky Atlantic, Air date: February 2014
Dominic Cooper, Lara Pulver, Anna Chancellor
Dominic Cooper plays the author who gave us James Bond, Ian Fleming, in this stylish drama. From naval officer to intelligence officer and playboy, this charts the British writer’s fascinating, eventful life.
Anticipation factor ★★★


Law & Order: UK
ITV: Air date: 2014   
Bradley Walsh, Georgia Taylor, Paterson Joseph, Dominic Rowan   
Highlights of the new series include the death of a psychiatrist who specialises in violent juveniles and a hotel-room killing without a body. DS Ronnie Brooks, played by Bradley Walsh, will meet his match in a drug dealer who repeatedly beats the justice system and In I Predict a Riot, he’ll be investigating other senior police officers. 
Anticipation factor ★★★★


Vera 4
ITV, Air date: 2014
Brenda Blethyn, David Leon
In the opening episode Vera investigates the mysterious death of pensioner Margaret Krukowksi (Annabel Leventon) on a busy Newcastle Metro train at the height of rush hour.
Anticipation factor ★★★½


Endeavour 4
ITV, Air date: 2014
Shaun Evans, Roger Allam
Four more two-hour films.
Anticipation factor ★★★★


Prey
ITV, Air date: 2014
John Simm
John Simm will play Detective Constable Marcus Farrow, a well-liked copper, with a wife and two kids.  Although he and his wife Abi are going through a rough patch, they’re trying not to let it disrupt life for their sons, Max and Finn. But when Farrow is found at the scene of a brutal crime, with all the evidence pointing towards him, his world collapses. Arrested and charged, it seems Farrow’s fate is sealed. So when he gets the opportunity to escape, he seizes it with both hands. Now Farrow is on the run in Manchester. A criminal on the streets he used to police. A great premise for what sounds like a gripping drama.
Anticipation factor ★★★★½


No Offence
C4, Air date: 2014
The latest from Paul Abbott (Shameless, Hit & Miss, State of Play) is bound to be a cop show with a difference. Set in a crumbling Victorian cop shop on the wrong side of Manchester, No Offence follows a group of bobbies on the front line, wondering what they did to end up here, in this force, on this side of town. Keeping these streets clean is a Herculean task, enough to demoralise even the keenest rookie. Expect wit, grit and a walk on the wild side of policing.
Anticipation factor ★★★★½

Christopher Jefferies
ITV, Air date: 2014
Jason Watkins, Peter Polycarpou, Shaun Parkes
Based on the true story of Christopher Jefferies, a retired schoolmaster who was arrested when his tenant, 25-year-old landscape architect Joanna Yeates, was found murdered on Christmas Day in 2010. While in police custody, Jefferies became the most familiar face in Britain.
Anticipation factor ★★★½


Foyle’s War
ITV, Air date: 2014
Michael Kitchen, Honeysuckle Weeks
Three two-hour mysteries. In his role as a Senior Intelligence Officer for the secret service-MI5, Foyle continues to be immersed in the dangerous post-war world of espionage at a time when political and foreign governmental relationships were delicately balanced.
Anticipation factor ★★★½


Undeniable
ITV, Air date: 2014
Claire Goose, Peter Firth, Felix Scott, Christina Bottomley, Pippa Haywood
Claire Goose will star as Jane Fielding, a woman who recognises her mother’s murderer, twenty-three years after the crime. Despite being just seven years old when she witnessed the killing, she’s determined to bring the man she believes is responsible to justice.
Anticipation factor ★★★★½


Chasing Shadows
ITV, Air date: 2014
Cast to be announced
Four-parter about the work of a missing persons unit tracking down serial killers who prey on impressionable and vulnerable people.
Anticipation factor ★★★½


Scott & Bailey 4
ITV, Air date: 2014
Lesley Sharp, Suranne Jones
The hugely popular series – the finale of the last season was watched by 7.1million viewers – returns.
Anticipation factor ★★★★


Grantchester
ITV, Air date: 2014
Cast to be announced
Set against the backdrop of the real hamlet of Grantchester, the drama focuses upon the life of Sidney Chambers, a charismatic, charming clergyman who turns investigative vicar when one of his parishioners dies in suspicious circumstances.  
Anticipation factor ★★★½

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The Honourable Woman, New Tricks, Shetland, Z Cars, Inspector Nardone

Maggie Gyllenhaal has signed to appear in Hugo Blick’s new thriller, The Honourable Woman, for BBC2. Blick was behind the quirky, compelling The Shadow Line, so all-in-all this looks a bit special. Gyllenhaal will play Nessa, whose father was a Zionist arms procurer, and, as a child, she and her brother witnessed his assassination. As an adult, she inherits his business and tries to switch its purpose from arms to laying data cable between the Israel and the West Bank. The Shadow Line was convoluted but full of brilliant verbal sparring, so this new seven-parter with its spies and international setting should be thick with intrigue.

• The tenth series of New Tricks returns on Tuesday, 30 July, at 9pm. This time in the drama following the retired cold-case cops, Brian Lane (Alun Armstrong) is suspended after assaulting an officer he suspects of covering up a death in custody that led to his early retirement. Stalwarts Amanda Redman and Alun Armstrong will be leaving during this series, following the recent departure of James Bolam. However, Tamzin Outhwaite and Nicholas Lyndhurst will be joining Dennis Waterman and new boy Denis Lawson, so the hit drama will be facing a bit of crunch time to see if and how the fresh characters bed in. Meanwhile, the 9th and final series of CSI: NY also launches on Tuesday, 30 July, on C5. But New Tricks, wobbling from all the departures as it may be, should still see off CSI: NY in the ratings with ease.

• Must admit, I couldn’t really understand why the Beeb decided to do another series of Shetland, such was the quiet passing of the first, but they’re certainly throwing the stars at it for the next outing of the Douglas Henshall drama. Brian Cox ( The Bourne Identity) and Julie Graham (Survivors) will be on hand for the next batch of Ann Cleeve‘s stories – Raven Black, Blue Lightning and Dead Water. If the writers manage to breath some life into the characters this time round, I’ll raise a dram to them.

• If you’re an Everton supporter the Z Cars theme tune is never far away, but for the rest of us there will be a chance to renew acquaintances with the music and accompanying series that was so hugely popular and influential during the 60s and 70s. Z Cars Collection One will be released on a two-disc DVD on 2 September. Writer Troy Kennedy Martin believed that the genre needed ‘an injection of energy and bite’ and that’s what Z Cars had in abundance. Making its TV debut on the BBC in 1962, it went on to become one of the longest-running British TV shows, airing until 1978.

• Inspector Montalbano is currently on leave of absence from BBC4. But the Sicilian is not the only Italian crime-fighter on UK telly. Ever heard of Inspector Nardone? If not, that’s probably because he is tucked away on True Movies, one of the lesser known multi-channel networks. It’s a period drama set in post-war Milan and is based on a real person. Nardone (played by Sergio Assisi) is a crusading cop who roots out corruption at the Questura despite opposition from his spineless superiors. Like Montalbano, there a strain of light-heartedness and romance running through the series, and for crime fans who like the era, it’s a fresh take on the continental cop genre. Inspector Nardone returns to True Movies 1 at 1am from Saturday, 17 August, through to Friday, 23 August, and on True Drama at 1am from 12 August through to 17 August.

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