Harry comes to All4 on Friday 1st June

Every so often a series sneaks under the radar, especially when it comes to online streaming services. Channel 4 is putting a lot of original series on its All4 site; some under the Walter Presents, some with under no banner at all.

Harry – from New Zealand – is one such series.

Which is a shame because it’s got a great cast and a great set-up.

Still grieving his wife’s suicide, Detective Harry Anglesea (Oscar Kightley) returns to Auckland’s Major Crime Unit after bereavement leave in his native Samoa. Although he’s eager to jump back into the job, his self-destructive behavior hints that he may not be ready. His 13-year-old daughter, Mele, is even less ready for life as normal and desperately needs her father’s attention. But Harry and his boss, DSS Jim “Stocks” Stockton (Sam Neill… yes THAT Sam Neill), soon become engrossed in a high-profile case.

Here’s a trailer:

Harry: From Friday 1st June, All4

Tin Star adds new cast members for second series

Tin Star, Sky’s expensive, entertaining-but-messy Canadian-set crime drama starring Tim Roth and Christina Hendricks is coming back for a second series, this time adding new cast members.

The first series told the story of a British Police Officer, who becomes the New Chief of Police and moves his family to the Canadian Rockies. But as new faces appear around the sleepy town and a sudden big Oil Company and the promise of big money coming in, the small Canadian town begins to see violence and crime erupt. After tragedy strikes, secrets emerge and the fight begins.

Variety reports:

Tim Roth and Christina Hendricks are set to return for a second season of Sky’s original crime drama “Tin Star,” the satcaster has confirmed. The cast for the 10-part second series, which will air in 2019, will also include Irish actor John Lynch, Romanian actress Anamaria Marinca and Canadian actress Jenessa Grant.

Genevieve O’Reilly and Abigail Lawrie will also return for the second season, which is currently filming in Calgary, Canada.

More news as we get it…


ITV cancels Rowan Atkinson’s Maigret

When the BBC entered into a new relationship with Agatha Christie Limited to produce new versions of the late author’s work, many wondered aloud what its rival, ITV, was going to do to fill the Golden Age-sizedhole the likes of Miss Marple and Poirot.

It filled it with a new, ongoing adaptation of Georges Simenon’s Maigret novels and hired Rowan Atkinson as the titular, Paris-based detective.

Now, only after four episodes, ITV has cancelled the show.

According to TV Wise:

A representative for the channel confirmed that they have “no current plans” for more Maigret. The news comes nearly six months after Maigret In Montmartre aired on ITV; managing a consolidated audience of close to six million viewers. For his part, Atkinson wont be hurting for work, he is currently committed to reprising his role as Johnny English in Johnny English Strikes Again, which is set to be released later this year.

It’s a shame because Atkinson was beginning to find his feet as Maigret and the stories were improving with each episode. But it’s au revoir to Atkinson and Maigret. But it’s still a case of plus ça changeplus c’est la même chose for ITV: what will fill the Golden Age-sized hole?


New French crime drama Les Ombres Rouge begins filming

French crime drama is, as we now know, worth keeping an eye on. Spiral, Witnesses and the recent acquisition by Netflix of La Forêt mean that the country really is doing good work in the genre.

Now we hear (via The Medium Is Not Enough and Le Blog) that a new six-part crime series is on the way. Furthermore, the filming of the series Les Ombres Rouge (The Red Shadows) has begun today for French channel C8.

This series features Nadia Farès (pictured), Manon Azem, Antoine Duléry, Lannick Gautry, Raphael Lenglet ex Candice Renoir), Mhamed Arezki, Rémi Pedevilla, Héléna Soubeyrand and André Oumaski.

The story goes something like this…

1993. Five-year-old Clara Garnier. His kidnappers are demanding a huge amount of money for his release. The exchange of the ransom ends in a bloodbath: Clara’s mother is killed and the child is gone forever. The whole mystery and brutal conclusion causes huge trauma in the region and in his family, one of the most prominent in the Côte d’Azur region. 25 years later, Aurore Garnier (Farès), Clara’s older sister, is now a police officer. During an investigation, she discovers that Clara (Azem) is still alive but lives under another identity without knowing her true origins. Aurore will do everything for Clara to find her family, but this unexpected return will trigger a series of violent events and bring to the surface family secrets that everyone thought were buried forever…

Sounds interesting, non?

Douglas Henshall reveals Shetland series five shooting date

Series four of Shetland has been one of our favourite crime series of the year so far.

Douglas Henshall and co were terrific in the six-part story, which told the story of two murders – one a decades-old cold case and a new one – a man who was released from prison for a murder he did not commit, and the revelation of long-held familial secrets. All this was, as is customary with Shetland, set against that stunningly beautiful backdrop of islands themselves.

Back in February, BBC Scotland confirmed that there would be a fifth series (although there has been nothing from Beeb HQ so far to confirm that confirmation).

On a slight tangent, a recent survey’s result concluded that nearly one-third of people who visited Shetland last year were influenced by TV shows like the BBC crime drama set in the isles. A new survey commissioned by Shetland Islands Council and VisitScotland showed 28 per cent of visitors were inspired to head north after seeing the remote islands on TV.

So as far as Shetland is concerned, you can see the impact it’s having on viewers and tourism.

The series star, Douglas Henshall, tweeted this today:

Whether series five will be another six-parter (and indeed whether it will feature one story or, say, three across the series) is yet to be confirmed.

More news etc etc.


REVIEW: A Very English Scandal (S1 E2/3)

From this distance in time – especially in the age of social media when political reputations are made and dashed within a few tweets – it’s hard to imagine the kind of deference public figures could inspire in the 1960s, and only the newspaper cartoonists really had licence to lampoon.

Hugh Grant’s glowering performance powerfully evokes Jeremy Thorpe’s reputation as a witty and wily performer in the cut and thrust of parliamentary debate and his knack with the mot juste.

In this episode’s opening scene, Russell T Davies’ deft script breathtakingly juxtaposes his impassioned plea in the House of Commons to help Nigerian civilians caught up in the Biafran War, giving dire warnings about the Russian influence there – to a discussion with confidant Peter Bessell on the best ways to dispose of a dead body, making him sound like an Old Etonian Tony Soprano.

He sounds disconcertingly knowledgeable about Mob methods despite the fact that director Martin Scorsese had hardly begun his movie career at this point.

David Holmes (Paul Hilton), a former party deputy treasurer, is in thrall to Thorpe as much as Bessell (even while Thorpe imitates his Northern accent) to the point of complicity in the plan to shoot Norman Scott.

Can you get a gun?”

I can do whatever you want, Jeremy.” 

Shoot the bugger stone dead,” sneers Thorpe.

Bessell, meanwhile, has his own problems. His business interests are going bust – but he thinks he’s off the Scott hook when Norman rings to say he’s got married.

The wedding doesn’t actually make it much past the reception, at which his new father-in-law, Captain Myers (Patrick Barlow), makes it painfully clear that daughter Susan’s (Lucy Briggs-Owen) choice of a “flagrant poofter” isn’t a patch on her absent sister’s match with professional bounder actor Terry-Thomas.

Quite how he got her pregnant I don’t know – she must have been caught downwind.” Stuck in a dilapidated cottage with Norman, the baby, and no visible means of support, upper-crust Susan wastes cash on lucky peacock feathers. Poor Norman is reduced to scrumping and stealing eggs from farms; no wonder even his baby son won’t look at him. Susan soon goes back to daddy with the baby.

Thorpe, meanwhile, is facing life as a single dad to son Rupert when wife Caroline dies in a car crash. Stuffy arch-enemy Emlyn Hooson QC (the sublimely chameleonic Jason Watkins), routed contender for the leadership, sees his chance to eclipse Thorpe. The men are polar opposites; Thorpe’s gregarious and popular, Hooson is brilliant but too right-wing for the Liberal Party – and a Eurosceptic to boot. Protector Bessell then drops the bombshell that he may have to flee the country – and his wife – after a cracked egg business deal. He plans to take up with a younger woman in America. But even amidst tragedy, Thorpe, blaming Norman for his woes, still wants ‘The Scottish matter’ dealt with.

Thrown by his threatening undertow, Bessell takes out insurance; before vacating his office he stows the ‘blackmail’ letters in the false ceiling.

At rock-bottom in a caravan in Tal-y-Bont, North Wales, Norman strikes up a passionate liaison with a local woman. Torchwood’s Eve Myles plays merry widow former sub-postmistress Gwen Parry-Jones with a combination of the delicate brittleness of Marianne Faithfull and the ebullient, lubricious glee of Gavin & Stacey’s Nessa Jenkins. Seducing Norman in short order, she dismisses his homosexuality; “my husband was a soldier”. Taking him in hand – literally – she promises to help him retrieve his NI card with the help of her MP – Emlyn Hooson.

Hooson and David Steel (whom Thorpe apparently disparages as the “baby of the House”) are alarmed by Norman’s story. (Poor Steel; little could he imagine the struggle he’d soon have as leader in picking up the pieces.)

All his birthdays coming at once, Hooson declares the blackmail angle a matter for the party and the police, but Thorpe, sang froid, says this would look like revenge for losing the leadership battle from the man who had defended Moors Murderer Ian Brady (a bit of a reach, Jezza – that’s what barristers do).

To cut him off at the pass, Thorpe gains a promise of a cover-up from Tory home secretary Reggie Maudling (Michael Culkin), himself a louche, scandal-ridden character whose career was subsequently to be forever stained by Bloody Sunday. Hooson, desperate to get hard proof, hits a wall when the emotionally unstable Parry-Jones commits suicide.

Unhappy with loose ends, Thorpe sends Holmes to Bessell in California to plot Norman’s death in America.

Bessell says they’ll pretend to set something up in the US and claim it went wrong and that Norman didn’t turn up – “then at least it will look like we’ve tried”, says Bessell.

Thorpe’s second marriage to the redoubtable Marion (Monica Dolan) in 1973 starts him on a roll which sees him strengthen his hold on his North Devon seat in February 1974’s general election, taking the Liberals to the brink of a coalition government. (Imagine 2010’s ‘Cleggmania’ and treble it.) But by the second ballot in October, the party’s fortunes falter as Wilson retains a majority, and the natives become restive.

Cementing his reputation as a nomadic Jonah, Norman moves to Thorpe’s North Devon constituency to work in stables. Then one day, while riding a horse down a high street with the haughty grace of a Lady Godiva, he comes face to face with Thorpe and waves nervously, obviously torn between joy and fear.

The troops are scrambled.

What follows is a supremely inept hunt, through indiscreet intermediaries John Le Mesurier (no, not that one) and George Deakin, for an assassin – or in this case a broke, small-time airline pilot, the hapless Andrew Newton, played by TV’s current go-to for incompetents, Blake Harrison (The Inbetweeners), in a superbly measured performance (imagine Joe Pasquale as Joe Pesci).

The blind leading the blind, Newton (who doesn’t understand how to be low-key or remember the alias he’s been given; Bessell later said it was ‘Chicken-Brain’) tells Norman someone is coming from Canada to kill him, and takes him and Rinka, a Great Dane Norman is caring for, in his clapped-out car across Exmoor during a downpour. Freaked out by the dog, Newton loses control and shoots Rinka, but fails to shoot Norman when the gun jams.

As far as the British public was concerned, the amiable Jeremy Thorpe had a charisma that certainly shone far brighter than those of other leaders (how many of them got to pose with Jimi Hendrix, after all?). Had his path not crossed with those of the benighted Norman Scott, he might well have gained high office. What led him to hit the self-destruct button even when his allies defended him so assiduously?

Davies and director Stephen Frears encapsulate it in the exchanges between his henchmen Bessell and Holmes.

Both agree the whole murder plot is “bloody nuts” and are at a loss to understand why they feel so beholden to him – especially, says Holmes “because I have that bloke of mine, at home, Gerald, and it’s magic. But then I go to London and there’s Jeremy, and I love him”.

It amazes me that we’ll go to such lengths to protect him when he’s so bloody avert – he’s perfected the art of hiding in plain sight,” says Bessell.

I think he likes it; the danger of it – it’s a game,” says Holmes, probably hitting on the truth. After all, history offers us no shortage of politicians who have tried to hide their own private vices behind public virtue.

Stay with it; next week the action should be moving to the Old Bailey and comedy judge Sir Joseph Cantley. Or was it Peter Cook?

Deborah Shrewsbury


The 10 Best Crime Dramas This Week (Monday 28th May – Sunday 3rd June)

Unbelievably, we’re half-way through the final series of The Bridge, while the excellent A Very British Scandal comes to an end. Elsewhere, there are new episodes of Elementary, Inspector Montalbano and Bulletproof, while we say goodbye to Rought Justice. Enjoy!

S4 E4/8
Still at large, Taariq spots the car used to kidnap Margrethe Thormod, and tracks down its owner with the intention of extorting money from him. When another murder at the hospital in Malmo appears to be connected to the two previous ones, Saga finally realises how they are linked and that the killing is probably set to continue. Meanwhile, the girls vacate Henrik’s house, and while trying to find them Henrik runs into Thomas, the drug dealer.
Friday 1st June, 9pm, BBC Two

S1 E3/3
Norman survives a bungled attempt on his life, and publicly accuses Jeremy of having hired the would-be killer to silence him – an act which finally brings their secret relationship into the public eye for the first time. With the world watching, the ensuing court case drags years of acrimony between the two men into the light, as a man who would be prime minister stands trial for conspiracy to murder.
Sunday 3rd June, 9pm, BBC One

S6 E2/21
Watson and her half-sister have conflicting reactions when their estranged biological father dies. A shocking murder sparks a search for a stolen plutonium shipment.
Monday 28th May, 9pm, Sky Living

S6 E3/10
Chance Gilbert’s court appearance takes a dramatic turn that pulls Walt away from the civil suit and towards a showdown with Vic.
Friday 1st June, 9pm, 5USA

S1 E13/13
A well-known politician is found stabbed to death in a car park, and it seems the case is closed when a suspect is found at the scene holding the murder weapon. However, a second attack is then committed leaving a doctor fighting for her life, while the prime suspect is being held in the cells. The team uncovers the link between the two victims and deduces who might be targeted next. Meanwhile, Liese provokes the blackmailer, and Baina’s fate seems to be decided. 
Friday 1st June, 10pm, More4

6 Inspector Montalbano *NEW UK PREMIERE EPISODE*
S5 E2/2
The detective investigates the disappearance of a former prostitute, whose sister reveals that she had recently fallen in love, leading the police to her meek and gentle boyfriend.
Saturday 2nd June, 9pm, BBC Four

S1 E3/6
Outraged that he and Bishop have been kicked off the Sharp case, Pike decides to break the rules, while a new case leads them straight into a shoot-out.
Tuesday 29th May, 9pm, Sky1

8 Unforgotten
S1 E1/6
The discovery of a skeleton in the cellar of a demolished building launches a murder hunt, headed up by DCI Cassie Stuart and DS Sunny Khan. However, all they have to go on is a car key found near the body, which leads them on a search to find out who he is, as well as how, when and why he died.
Sunday 3rd June, 9pm, ITV3

9 Death On The Nile
Hercule Poirot wants a break from the British gloom and rain. He decides to take an Egyptian cruise – but his voyage proves far from smooth. Agatha Christie’s classic ‘whodunit’ stars John Moffatt as the Belgian super-sleuth Hercule Poirot.
Monday 28th May, 11.30am, BBC Radio 4

10 Gotham
S4 E8/22
Penguin wants revenge when he hears Nygma is mocking him on stage and enlists the Sirens for help. Meanwhile, Gordon is offered the position of GCPD Captain.
Tuesday 29th May, 9pm, E4

REVIEW: The Bridge (S4 E3/8)

Last week’s episode of The Bridge was, really, all about Saga. Her heroic return to police work and her subsequent mini-meltdown thrust her back into our consciousness with a jolt, but here, in episode three it was all about Henrik.

Which was good to see, because – yes – Saga is our key character and one that we love and root for dearly, but Henrik has always felt like a slightly peripheral character, often designed to act as a counterpoint to Saga. But here, in this episode, there was real character development and a type of development that didn’t bode well for he and Saga’s relationship.

It’s just a hunch so far, but you felt that there were cracks beginning to show.

But we’ll come to Saga and Henrik later.

As ever, there was a lot going on in this episode.

Dan the nasty cab driver – the last person to see Margrethe Thormod alive and Sofie’s abusive ex-husband – was hijacked by a group of armed men on the way to Malmö from Denmark. Now, at the end of the last episode, we saw Patrik – poor, electrocuted Patrik – working in a hospital as a clown to entertain the sick kids. He was told to leave a private room by a father who said that his daughter was scared of clowns. This father – William – turned out to be Dan’s boss, and he took out the person who betrayed him and carried out the hijacking with a bullet (or three). Make no mistake: William is an arms dealer and a very bad man.

Who just happens to have a sick daughter in the hospital.

Elsewhere, Richard was eliminated from enquiries after it was revealed it was that he who was behind Red October – a fictional activist group, created for publicity. And, in The Village (as we’ll call it for now), there was a burglary, which sent some of the locals into a bit of a mild panic. Christoffer was revealed to be the person who did the stealing, but he and Astrid’s friendship showed signs of developing. I got a real feeling something is going to kick off here in The Village, but it wasn’t in this episode.

The most intriguing thread throughout this instalment was family.

After teenage urchins Julia and Ida were picked up by the cops, Henrik took a shine to them and ended up taking them home with him to look after them. This did not impress Saga and she was immediately uncomfortable (she had started seeing a therapist, and, as you would imagine, was very straightforward in listing all the awful things that had happened to her), but Henrik was really enjoying having two kids – living kids – back in his home. He joked with them, fed them spaghetti and all those latent parenting skills spilled out. You got the impression that as Saga watched on she didn’t feel at home with Henrik anymore, that he had changed, and became someone she didn’t recognise.

(And Henrik answered a question we might have been asking: were Julia and Ida his missing children. No, he answered Saga, they weren’t.)

Their relationship was further complicated when Saga dropped the bombshell – in her usual, matter-of-fact way – that she was pregnant. When Henrik expressed surprise – they had been using contraception – Saga replied, bluntly, “I’ve only sex with myself and you for the past two years.”

She intended to terminate the pregnancy, while Henrik wasn’t quite so clear-cut. Another wedge between these two, perhaps.

In terms of the investigation, there was also movement. They let Taariq go (Henrik pretended to let him escape custody and his impending deportation) but they had bugged his watch and tracked him. Whenever any police force undertake a secret bugging plan like this in any crime drama it always goes wrong and, sure, enough Taariq pawned his watch to buy a gun. They had lost him, and now he was on his way to meet Morgan Sonner. Whoever he is.

Finally, there was action at the hospital – another clown made an appearance, tasered Sarah’s mother outside her room and burst in, scaring the living bejesus out of the sick girl and looking like he was going to abduct her. So… are the murders all connected to William, Sarah’s dodgy arms-dealing dad? Saga and co had been working on the assumption that Patrik – a clown at the hospital – was a case of mistaken identity. What if Patrik was the intended victim? And, if so, why?

Questions, questions, questions. And, really Hans Rosenfeldt, damn you – an evil clown just before bedtime? We know that you like your scary tableaux and imagery, but this was one step too far, surely.

Paul Hirons




Netflix picks up Polish series, Ultraviolet

It seems that not a day goes by when global, series-devouring streaming network Netflix – now rivalling Disney as the biggest media company in the US – has acquired some sort of new series. Not only does it produce its own US series and documentaries, it has cast its net far and wide and signed up non-English-language series to stream on its service. Germany, Denmark, Italy, France… you name it, it’s all on Netflix.

Now, we hear news that it has picked up Polish crime drama, Ultraviolet.

Via The Medium Is Not Enough, Wirtualnemedia and Filmneweurope report that:

The series is inspired by the book The Skeleton Crew written by Deborah Halber and infused with the personal story of Wendy West. The series follows the life of a thirty-year-old woman (Ola Serafin) who is forced by circumstances to leave her husband and London, and return to her hometown of Łódź. While driving her car one night, she witnesses a dramatic situation which looks like suicide, but which she finds highly suspicious. The police seem to be indifferent to the case. Desperate, Ola looks for help on the Internet, where she finds a group of amateur detectives that solve criminal cases the police are unable to.

The all-star cast of Polish actors includes Marta Nieradkiewicz in the lead, accompanied by Sebastian Fabijański, Bartłomiej Topa, Agata Kulesza, Marek Kalita, Michał Żurawski and Magdalena Czerwińska.

Here’s a trailer. It’s in Polish and without subtitles, but it gives you a flavourooney.

Expect this to surface later this year.

Sounds really intriguing.