Monday, 26 August 2013

What Remains

If you are feeling a gaping hole where a depressing drama should be after the end of 'Southcliffe', look no further than 'What Remains', BBC1's new four-part offering for Sunday nights.  Len Harper (David Threlfall, occasionally sporting Frank Gallagher's mumble), is that most-dramatised of detectives, the lonely cop facing an imminent, empty retirement.  Then he gets called to an old house, divided into flats, in which a mummified body has been found in the attic.

We can't accuse this of lacking realism: the house and its basement flat owner bear more than a passing resemblance to the case of Joanna Yeates, while the scenario of a resident in a block dying and going unnoticed for years is spookily similar to the tragic end of Joyce Vincent.  Basgallop weaves together these two premises in a suspenseful hour that introduces the late Melissa Young (Jessica Gunning, a staple of 'Law & Order: UK' and a standout in 'White Heat') and her unfriendly neighbours in the gloomy house.  Incredulity aside about the assumption that she'd just left - it could happen and did to Joyce V - it did seem odd that the heavily pregnant Ms Khan would shin up a ladder into the loft, or opt to stay in her new flat which had a very unsavoury leak in the ceiling.  And the line about the smell being hardly noticeable wasn't very convincing either.

Shaping up to be gripping, even if the thought that we are all so easily forgotten is a depressing one and says nothing positive about our fellows.

Sunday, 4 August 2013


A four-parter from Channel 4 already being compared to ITV's recent 'Broadchurch', this has a reporter returning to his fictional home town of Southcliffe to investigate a rampage killing.  The first episode has focused almost entirely on Stephen (Sean Harris, who must be wary of typecasting after this and playing killer Ian Brady) in the days leading up to the gun spree.  David (Rory Kinnear) is a jaded reporter who grew up in the town and is about to return for the worst of reasons.  This doesn't break the mould in terms of the killer's profile: we so far have enough of a glimpse of his painful past and his lonely present to recognise a lost soul, and we even see a bruising encounter with recent Afghanistan-returnee Chris (Joe Dempsie) and his ex-SAS uncle which seems to prove the final straw.

Dark and tense, the only minor irritations were David's to-camera journo-speak about England's 'everytown' and the frequent ad breaks.