Tin Star, starring Tim Roth, Christina Hendricks

Tin Star with Tim Roth

Rocky road ahead – Tim Roth as Jim Worth

London cop looks for a bit of peace in small-town Canada – and finds murder and chaos

★★

Sky Atlantic, starts Thursday, 7 September, 9pm

LAST TIME we saw Tim Roth he was playing the quietly spoken creepy mass killer in dowdy Rillington Place. What a leap to see him transformed into a police chief in modern-day, small-town Canada.

Of course, the reason he is in demand with everyone from Quentin Tarantino (Hateful Eight etc) to David Lynch (Twin Peaks) is his brilliant malleability.

In Sky Atlantic’s new 10-parter he plays Jim Worth, ex-Metropolitan Police detective who has moved his family to the Rockies. Here they plan a new and better life, with Jim policing a rural community.

However, the setting – though spectacular – is not idyllic. There is a big oil company, North Stream, breathing down the community’s neck.

Organised crime in Little Big Bear

Their new oil refinery promises to bring in cash to Little Big Bear, but with that comes organised crime. When a doctor who spoke out against North Stream turns up dead, Jim investigates and finds himself up against forces he is ill-equipped to fight.

A bullet intended for Jim actually hits a family member and the lawman finds himself sliding back into the alcoholism that had plagued him back home.

It’s a juicy premise. Jim begins as a fish-out-of-water character, swearing in his broad London accent, chivvying his daughter into their new life.

Christina Hendricks and Genevieve O’Reilly

But he becomes a much darker character after episode one. The attack on his family unleashes a more reckless and vengeful man. Quite a few real big-city cops escape into new lives into a more tranquil lifestyle. Except Little Big Bear tips Jim into near madness.

Roth gets first-class support from Mad Men‘s Christina Hendricks as a slightly conflicted PR woman for North Stream, and Genevieve O’Reilly as Jim’s wife, Angela.

The writer and creator is Rowan Joffe – British son of director Roland – who has come up with a strong story about illicit love, corruption and revenge. If you want a drama with a bit of humour and a lot of anarchy, Tin Star should do fine.

Rillington Place, Tim Roth, Samantha Morton

Programme Name: Rillington Place - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Ethel Christie (SAMANTHA MORTON), John Christie (TIM ROTH) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Des Willie

Married to a monster: Ethel (Samantha Morton) and John Christie (Tim Roth)

One of Britain’s most chilling serial killers is depicted in this dark drama

★★★★ BBC1, starts Tuesday, 29 November, 9pm

JOHN REGINALD CHRISTIE’S crimes during the 1940s and 50s shocked and haunted Britain. 

He murdered at least eight women, including his wife, Ethel. He also testified against Timothy Evans for the murder of his wife and infant daughter, whom Christie had himself murdered.

Official dismay over the miscarriage of justice that resulted in Evans’ being hanged eventually helped to end capital punishment in 1965.

Dramatising the life of such a notorious psychopath is a delicate proposition if it is not to be labelled cheap or sensationalist. Writers Ed Whitmore and Tracey Malone have gone to great lengths to produce a serious drama, using original sources at the National Archives and interviewing surviving relatives.

The resulting three-part miniseries is dark, but does a good job of looking at a period of Christie’s life and trying to glimpse into how his type functions.

Tim Roth and Samantha Morton

 John Christie (TIM ROTH) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Des Willie

Voyeur: John Christie

The production is helped hugely by stunning performances. Tim Roth and Samantha Morton as Christie and his wife are superb. These are quiet characters and so much of the drama and menace comes from tone of voice and glances.

And what a purple period this is in Tim Roth’s career. We’ve recently seen him as one of Quentin Tarantino’s Hateful Eight. Next up, he’s a sheriff in Canada in Tin Star. Then we’ll see him in David Lynch’s next instalment of Twin Peaks.

Rillington Place‘s three episodes are told from the viewpoints of different characters: Ethel, Timothy Evans (played by Nico Mirallegro) and finally Christie.

The opener asks how it is that Ethel could live with the manipulative, creepy pervert. She has family in Yorkshire,  where she and Christie are from, but still returns to him. [Read more…]

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