Hot on the heels of Hinterland/Y Gwyll, Welsh-language channel S4C is following one of our favourites with another thriller – the eight-part 35 Dirwnod (35 Days), which once again proves that the nation and its broadcasters are churning out some quality crime and thriller dramas. If Hinterland/Y Gwyll basked in the Ceredigion’s cruel, beautiful landscape, 35 Dirwnod is completely different in both setting and set up.
Unusually for a crime drama, 35 Dirwnod starts with a death. A young bespectacled man called Simon is dressed in a hoodie and strides into a fancy office building, where the staff are enjoying a work party. Simon looks in and catches the eye of a female party goer. It’s clear he’s not welcome here.
He then talks to someone on the phone, telling them to meet him on the roof. When he gets there he sees two shadowy figures, and then we see him fall from the building. We finally see his crushed, bloodied body on the city pavement below.
It’s a whodunit. Simon is dead but who pushed him?
We’re then thrust 35 days back into the past, where we meet a cast of charaters in a park. Simon is there, as is his wife Leslie. He can hardly bear to look at her, or engage with her.
From then on we’re locked into a dizzyingly complex dynamic between these characters. Some of them are married, but like most marriages feuds and beefs bubble beneath the surface. Some are having affairs with each other. Already we hate dislike them, and especially Simon, who’s so smug and deliberately dislikeable that by the end of the episode I wouldn’t be surprised if the entire audience became a suspect in his murder.
Simon’s work place – an insurance fraud office – is also a can of worms. In this pristine, spacious space there is much whispering and politicking. Simon has been boffing Hazel, the wife of a Tim, a friend, meeting for regular trysts in the stairwell. But he’s unaware that one of the CCTV cameras has been filming his every thrust. A portion of one of these x-rated videos has been sent to slightly timid co-worker Alun’s phone. He doesn’t want to do anything with it, he tells Simon, but there’s tension between the two. Helen, also a co-worker hates Simon. She’s also married to mechanic Geraint, who’s doing something dodgy in his garage. Young co-worker Katie is in a potentially abusive relationship at home.
One more thing – a car hire firm goes up in smoke and the two brothers who own it don’t have an alibi. One of them has a wife who’s been boffing her yoga teacher.
And so it goes on. By the end the sheer number of characters left my head in a spin. It’s going to take some excellent writing to keep control over this unruly lot. I have the feeling that it’ll be quite a wild ride until we find out who the murderer is.