Tag Archives: Silent Witness

TV Crime Log: Broadchurch

BroadchurchSo, look, don’t look so grim. After the catastrophic crime show famine of Christmas, there’s plenty of new – or rather, returning – crime shows this week.

Foyle’s War slipped back last night, cosy Father Brown is back for a third series this afternoon, featherweight Death In Paradise later in the week, and that old warhorse Silent Witness inevitably lumbers around for its umpteenth return. Crumbs, that’s a landslide of crimey stuff for your over-stimulated eyeballs.

But everybody’s attention will be turned to Broadchurch tonight, at 9pm. It’s a show that provided ITV with a rare critical and ratings drama triumph. The first series managed to run for 10-episodes while keeping up the gripping dramatic pace in a way which others dramas — The Missing, perhaps — have struggled to do.

The trailer for the second series hints at the disappearance of two girls — maybe referencing the investigation that ruined David Tennant’s DI Alec Hardy’s career — and creator and writer Chris Chibnall has promised a more straightforward thriller narrative this time around.

It’ll be interesting to see if lightning can actually strike twice for the beleaguered residents of that blighted, fictional Devon town, with its bright Scandi fabrics and steep cliffs and dark secrets. Broadchurch became something of a phenomenon when it aired in 2013.

A US-version, called Gracepoint, limped along across the pond this summer. And there was the novelization written by Erin Kelly. No matter how good novelisations of TV-series are, I’ve never quite understood the logic of publishing a book version a year or two after the telly show transmits — although Kelly has said that Chibnall insisted she insert a small clue into the book about the direction of the second series.

TV veteran Chibnall wrote the show on spec, and said he origjnally designed the show to be a trilogy — and it’s been reported that a third series has already been commissioned.

M.J. Arlidge on Six Degrees Of Assassination

So we’ve talked about books, we’ve talked about a fair few of them. And we’ve talked about a bit of telly. And movies, we like our crime thriller movies, and radio. So let’s move on and talk about this here audio drama. An audio drama is, like, radio without the shipping forecast, right? You can listen to it anywhere — in the car, while you go for a run, while you’re on a stakeout.

Six Degrees Of AssassinationSix Degrees Of Assassination is a gripping thriller about the murder of the British Prime Minister which is available to download from Audible.co.uk to a host of devices. The action follows an MI5 investigation into the assassination of the British Prime Minister. Six people, from assassin to mastermind, are unravelled from a web-like, complex chain of command — each of them a vital step towards uncovering the truth. It’s action-packed and, because it’s pumped right into your lug holes, unbearably tense.

Six Degrees stars Andrew Scott, him from Sherlock, and Freema Agyeman, her from Doctor Who, and Hermione Norris, her from all sorts.

And the writer M.J. Arlidge is quite the person at the moment. A television scriptwriter — Silent Witness, Torn, The Little House and Undeniable are among his credits — Arlidge became this year one of the biggest novelists in the business with his procedural Eeny Meeny.

Arlidge took time out from his packed writing schedule to give us the lowdown on Six Degrees…

Tell us about Six Degrees of Assassination…

Six Degrees is a ‘What If’ thriller about the assassination of the British Prime Minister. It introduces a new MI5 hero – Alex Cartwright – and is a cross between 24 and Homeland.

Someone once famously said the pictures on radio were better – are you able to let your imagination off the leash doing an audio drama?

Absolutely!!! I work in TV for my day job, but could only dream of doing what we do in Six Degrees. Explosions, car chases, assassinations, helicopters – it’s got the lot.

What’s that feeling like when you hear actors bring your words alive?

Amazing. We were so lucky to have such a stellar cast – Andrew Scott, Freema Agyeman, Hermione Norris — and they were uniformly brilliant. Andrew and Freeman make such a thrilling but charming pair and Hermione is so intelligent and sophisticated. I couldn’t have asked for more.

Why do we love conspiracy thrillers so much, do you think?

Because they produce a pleasurable paranoia! We love Russian Doll thrillers in which you are never sure who to trust or which agenda to believe. They are a great ride and always keep you guessing to the end. What’s not to love?

You’re both a scriptwriter and novelist, these days – how do you fit it all into your writing schedule?

It’s a juggling act, but it’s very refreshing — and challenging — to go from one medium to the other. It keeps you fresh and each informs the other. You never stop learning!

TV Crime Log: Club, Leftovers, Legends & Strain

Crime Thriller ClubCrime Thriller Club very much covers the same territory we do here – crime fiction and TV – but it’s got Bradley Walsh going for it instead of The Fella.

*tumbleweed rolls past*

Anyhow. It’s returning for another six week series on ITV3, which is the channel your in-laws watch. Walsh is joined by some of the stars of the biggest crime thriller shows, goes behind the scenes of upcoming new crime dramas, and plays quizmaster as he sets out to find a ‘Criminal Mastermind’.

At some point in that last sentence we slipped into blurb speak, so we may as well print the rest of it:

Culminating in the glittering Crime Thriller Awards 2014 – the ‘Oscars’ of the crime thriller world – this series delivers exclusive access to the stars and sets of some of Britain’s best known crime thriller programmes – including much-loved shows like DCI Banks, Whitechapel and Silent Witness – as well as gripping new dramas like the BBC’s Interceptor.

Each week, Bradley interrogates a leading actor from a major crime thriller – including the likes of Robert Glenister and Stephen Tompkinson – and casts a forensic eye over the career of a literary Living Legend, profiling blockbuster authors including Robert Harris, Dean Koontz, Lynda La Plante, Michael Connelly, and Wire In The Blood creator Val McDermid.

Across the series, Bradley’s also aided and abetted by renowned authors including Adele Parks, Peter James, Mark Billingham and Kate Mosse, who join him to help review an outstanding new crime thriller book of the week – and we hear what inspired their creators, including Lucie Whitehouse, James Carol and Peter May.

So that’s Crime Thriller Club at 9pm on ITV3. Just keep pressing the down button on your remote and you’ll get there.

The LeftoversJust by hitting the return bar, we arrive at 9pm on Tuesday — or as you pedants like to call it: tomorrow —  and the beginning, on Sky Atlantic, of The Leftovers. Now this is not strictly a crime drama – but you know what? My blog, my rules.

Based on Tom Perrotta’s novel, it envisages a world three years after a certain proportion of the population are whisked off in the Rapture, and the population left behind feels very sorry for itself indeed.

The main guy in it, played by actor and scriptwriter Justin Theroux is the town sheriff – so there’s a crimey link if you really insist on one. The Leftovers has proved marmite in the US because of its insistence on focusing on the shattered personal lives of the people left wondering what happened to their disappeared loved ones rather than investigating its mysterious supernatural conceit.

The StrainWednesday night sees the first episode of The Strain on Watch at 10pm. It’s a television adaptation of the trilogy written by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan – who wrote Prince of Thieves! It’s basically a modern-day retelling of Dracula, in which an airliner arrives at JFK, a la the Demeter, its lights off and doors sealed. An epidemiologist and his Disease Control unit is sent to investigate — and a vampire virus is unleashed on New York.

The first novel in The Strain trilogy was an interesting new take on ancient material. The second and third volumes, The Fall and The Night Eternal… not so much. Del Toro said he wanted to reinvent the vampire novel as a modern-day procedural.

So, in case you’re wondering whether to invest your precious hours in these serials, The Strain has been renewed for a second season — along with The Leftovers. The aim is to tell the entire trilogy over, er, four seasons. It stars the ever excellent Corey ‘Cards’ Stoll and David ‘Hartnell’ Bradley.

LegendsThere’s more adapted drama on Sky 1 at the same time, Wednesday at 10pm. Legends is based on Robert Littell’s book of the same name. Sean Bean stars as Martin Odum, a Deep Cover agent who changes identities in the same way other people change their underwear. Which is, hopefully, a lot. Trouble is, Odum begins to wonder whether his own identity is also a lie.

It’s a great concept, but the ratings in the US have been somewhat tepid, and there’s still no word on whether it’s going to get renewed.

TV Crime Log: Sherlock, Silent, Bridge

imagesSherlock is back for the first of three new episodes on the very first day of the New Year, which is a cause for celebration, is it not? And everyone wants to know how he got out of that little situation.

Sherlock Holmes’s return from the dead will be of no surprise to anybody who has read the source material, of course, but it’s a bit easier faking your death by plunging into a waterfall in the middle of nowhere, as he did in Conan Doyle’s stories, than it is plummeting off a building in a busy London.

Writer Steven Moffat is a writer of considerable invention, so no doubt the answer will be both entertaining and highly-implausible. So, yes, the New Year kicks off with the first of three new Sherlock dramas – The Empty Hearse.

Consider the footsteps of the gigantic blurb:

After the devastating effects of The Reichenbach Fall, Dr John Watson has got on with his life. New horizons, romance and a comforting domestic future beckon. But, with London under threat of a huge terrorist attack, Sherlock Holmes is about to rise from the grave with all the theatricality that comes so naturally to him. It’s what his best friend wanted more than anything, but for John Watson it might well be a case of ‘be careful what you wish for’! If Sherlock thinks everything will be just as he left it though, he’s in for a very big surprise…

Contemporary adaptations The Sign Of The Three and His Last Vow follow. But the question is, will there be another series? Martin Freeman’s career isn’t going too badly, I think, and Cumberbatch – well, he’s in just about everything. Let’s just enjoy Sherlock while we can.

It’s on next year — oh christ, 2014. New Year’s Day, 2014, at 9pm.

608Sherlock may be a rare telly treat, but Silent Witness, first aired in 1996 and starting its 17th series on January 2nd, is a TV staple.

Wash your hands for the blurb:

Forensic Pathologist Dr. Nikki Alexander, Forensic Scientist Jack Hodgson and Forensic Lab Scientist Clarissa Mullery return, but this time there’s a new head of The Lyell Centre – Forensic Pathologist Dr. Thomas Chamberlain.

Chamberlain’s confidence and political nose make him a good choice to lead the Lyell Centre after the death of Leo Dalton, but his sudden arrival and new approach is met by a frosty reception from Nikki, Jack and Clarissa. It’s not long before his judgment is called into question, but how quickly will Thomas be able to prove his worth?

In the opening episode, Premiership footballer Isaac Dreyfus finds his days at the top are numbered when a sex tape links him to the brutal murder of a young woman, threatening to destroy his reputation and marriage. Dreyfus desperately fights to prove his innocence, while disillusioned Adam Freedman turns to a mysterious source for help to avenge the murder of his wife and child.

Nikki struggles to come to terms with Leo’s death following the arrival of the new Lyell Centre boss, pathologist Thomas Chamberlain. However, her feelings surface when DI John Leighton and DS Anne Burchett demand results in the two unsolved cases. When Nikki questions the motive behind the murders, a re-examination of the Freedman crime scene leads Jack to make a startling discovery.

Despite a revolving cast – ah, Amanda Burton, those were the days –  Silent Witness still delivers sturdy ratings for the BBC, so it’s no wonder that it’s back for another five stories. Those are divided into two parts, and wrapped within an ear-splitting operatic credit sequence. The first Silent Witness story, Commodity, is on at 9pm.

608-1And, I don’t know about you, but the UK-version of The Bridge – The Tunnel left me a bit cold. The melodrama was there, but the sly humour and terrific chemistry between the two leads seemed to have got lost somewhere in translation. I’ve been missing me some proper Saga.

So, this is good news, the second series of the original is back on BBC4 on Saturday four whole days into the new year — 2014, god help us – at 9pm.

The blurb requires you to shut the door behind you:

Thirteen months after the events of the first season, a coastal tanker leaves the Öresund waterway and heads straight for the Øresund Bridge.

When the coastguards board the ship, they discover there are no crew on board. Three Swedish and two Danish youths are also chained to the below deck.

Saga Norén of Malmö County Police is put in charge of the case and contacts Martin Rohde,, who is still haunted by the death of his son. Together, they start the journey of investigating the case.

Happy New year, persons.