Another very strong category, which sees Unbelievable’s Merritt Wever acknowledged and rewarded for delivering a beautifully judged performance – a family woman, a god-fearing woman, but also a detective stubbornly obsessed with finding a serial rapist. Eve Myles was, yet again, brilliant and believable in series two of Un Bore Mercher in a role that fits her like a glove, while Sarah Greene was a revelation as Cassie Maddox in Dublin Murders – smart and brilliant, but also vulnerable. Sian Reese-Williams was, once again, superb as Cadi John in Craith, bringing subtlety and nuance aplenty to an already brilliant character.
Glenda Jackson Elizabeth Is Missing, BBC One
Dame Glenda Jackson hasn’t been on our screens for 25 years, but Elizabeth Is Missing reminded us how good of an actress she still is. It was a heartbreaking story of octogenarian Maud, who was trying to solve a mystery in the present day – the disappearance of her friend Elizabeth – and a mystery from her childhood, all while coming to terms with her Alzheimer’s. Jackson’s performance was just astonishing: Maud went from crotchety and sharp-tongued to vulnerable and terrified as her condition deteriorated. We just hope this isn’t a one-off return for Jackson.
Takehiro Hira’s reputation preceded him when he starred in Giri/Haji, and was well justified – you couldn’t take your eyes off him whenever he was onscreen. His was a quiet intensity that set him apart from the rest of the cast. Taylor Kitsch portrayed the infamous David Koresh superbly in Waco, while Mahershala Ali demonstrated yet again why he’s an Oscar winner with a performance that spanned three generations in True Detective. Ashley Walters, meanwhile, was excellent in series three of Top Boy, showing exactly the right balance of menace and introspection.
Jharrel Jerome When They See Us, Netflix Jerome was part of a stunning ensemble cast in When They See Us, which told the heartbreaking story of the injustice of the Central Park Five. Jerome played Korey Wise, one of five teenagers randomly rounded up and falsely accused of the rape and assault of a female jogger in the city’s famous park. Throughout, we saw the horror of the court case and how a young teenager ill-equipped to handle incarceration grow into an extraordinary young man, seething with rage and doing anything he could to survive. Jerome’s performance was so good it left in us in tears, and was one for the ages.
The fantastic Toni Collette and Kaitlyn Dever were, well, unbelievable in Netflix’s Unbelievable, both playing very different characters – Collette was a no-nonsense detective, while Dever was a survivor of sexual assault who had to pick up the pieces of her young life after her attack. Elsewhere, Andrea Riseborough was, as usual, fantastic in Waco, and Siobhan Finneran was sensational as a mother dealing with the loss of her daughter in ITV’s A Confession.
Annes Elwy Craith, S4C Relative newcomer Elwy got the nod in a very strong category thanks to her performance as teenage gang leader and murderer, Mia, in series two of Craith. Elwy’s portrayal of what was essentially a nasty piece of work was nuanced, with a less-is-more approach – you knew what kind of mood she was in with just a look. Her phosphorous green eyes often flashed with malevolence as she slyly and mercilessly manipulated her cohorts, the angry Lee and the vulnerable Connor. Elwy fairly chewed up the screen whenever she was on it.
Bradley Freegard reprised his role as Evan Howells in series two of Un Bore Mercher, portraying a man who had made some bad decisions that had ripped his family part; while Stephen Graham once again proved he’s one of the country’s top talents when he appeared in series five of Line Of Duty. Elsewhere, young Asante Blackk was one of the picks in the outstanding ensemble cast in When They See Us on Netflix, and David Tennant showed off his range as a highly ambiguous character in Criminal UK.
Kano Top Boy, Netflix
One half of the power couple in Top Boy, there was just something so earthy and engaging about Kano’s performance as Sully in series three. You couldn’t take your eyes off him, and Kano’s extraordinary range encompassed existential crisis as well as fierce loyalty, emotion and a middle-of-the-series segment where he went down to Margate and caused equal parts mayhem and got his own rites-of-passage story.
Here we go then. It’s a goodbye to 2019 and hello to 2020 and a brand-new decade.
And, as you’d expect after all the Christmas shows, things hit the ground running (you should see next week). We get series three of David Simon and George Pelecanos’s fantastic The Deuce, and series two of ITV’s Bancroft. Enjoy!
1 The Deuce *NEW UK PREMIERE SERIES*
S3 E1/8 In the opening episode, Vincent reconnects with his ex-wife, Andrea, and Lori goes back to work after rehab. Meanwhile, Harvey and Candy have a disagreement about the future.
Thursday 2nd January, 9pm, Sky Atlantic
2 Wisting *NEW UK PREMIERE EPISODES* S1 E3&4/10 William and his team continue to search wells all over town for more clues, and realise that the killer could also have been operating across the border in Sweden, potentially multiplying the number of victims. Line’s investigation is also becoming more complex, meaning Thomas has his work cut out trying to unite the family at Christmas. Saturday 4th January, 9pm, BBC Four
3 The Trial Of Christine Keeler *NEW UK PREMIERE EPISODES* S1 E2-3/6 The shooting has led to court proceedings against Christine’s former lover Johnny and brought press attention for Christine, who is tempted by the offer of money for her story. But she must first convince the newspaper it is both true and sensational enough to risk a libel lawsuit. Meanwhile, Profumo must try to deflect any connection to the model in the newspapers. Monday 30th December and Sunday 5th January, 9pm, BBC One
4 Bancroft *NEW UK PREMIERE SERIES* S2 E1-3/3
Promoted to Detective Chief Superintendent, Bancroft has professional success but at great personal cost. When a double murder brings an unexpected reunion, Elizabeth is forced onto the sidelines by Detective Superintendent Jake Harper. However, as new enemies emerge, old foes make their move. Wednesday 1st, Thursday 2nd, Friday 3rd January, 9pm, ITV
5 Chicago PD *NEW UK PREMIERE SERIES* S2 E7/10
Three years after a horrific shark attack tore Zoe and Dan apart, the detectives are reunited to solve the murder of a woman who went missing years earlier. Meanwhile, a serial killer is lurking hidden in plain sight. Friday 3rd January, 9pm, Sky Witness
6 Miss Marple *REPEAT* S3 E1/4
The sleuth investigates a friend’s claim to have witnessed a murder being committed on a passing train, but everyone is initially stumped by the lack of a body. Monday 30th December, 9pm, Alibi
7 CSI: NY *REPEAT* S1 E17/23
Mac and Stella have reason to suspect a police officer is involved in the murder of a wine store owner after evidence links him to a Hispanic gang present at the crime scene. Their investigations prove upsetting for Flack, as the man under suspicion is his old mentor. Thursday 2nd January, 9pm, CBS Justice
8 Vera *REPEAT* S8 E3/4
A mother of two is found murdered in her back garden. Vera and Aiden investigate the case, and delve into the disturbing secrets and ongoing conflicts that lurk beneath the surface of the victim’s seemingly peaceful suburban community. The case takes a more complicated turn when the dead woman’s estranged family make an unexpected reappearance, and while several of her neighbours may have had cause to carry out a crime of passion, her relatives may have had compelling motives of their own to kill. Tuesday 31st December, 8pm, ITV3
9 Midsomer Murders *REPEAT* S17 E3/4
It’s the day of the Little Crosby Folk Festival and organiser Toby Winning is found dead, having drowned in a bowl of eggs and live eels. The murder seems to have been inspired by a ballad made famous by the late, lamented star Johnny Carver. Then it comes to light the victim recently announced plans to move the event to a new location, which would have cost local entrepreneur Frank Wainwright dearly. Toby’s estranged wife Alice also comes under suspicion, before two further killings take place, echoing more lyrics from the song. Friday 3rd January, 8pm, ITV 3
10 Bite Club *NEW UK PREMIERE SERIES* S1 E1/8
Three years after a horrific shark attack tore Zoe and Dan apart, the detectives are reunited to solve the murder of a woman who went missing years earlier. Meanwhile, a serial killer is lurking hidden in plain sight. Thursday 2nd January, 9pm, Alibi
Just a quick festive message to from us to you, whoever you are, wherever you are and whatever you’re celebrating.
It’s been another great year for The Killing Times, so we can’t thank you enough for reading and interacting. We’ve got plenty more to come before the year is out – lookout for our reviews of Wisting and our annual Top 20 Best Crime Dramas of the year, appearing over four days from the 27th December. We’re also introducing an Oscar-style awards post, too, as well as our annual preview for the coming year.
Until then a very merry Christmas and happy holidays!
Dissecting the best crime drama on television and radio from around the world