Sunday, 21 December 2014

Crisis, with Gillian Anderson, Dermot Mulroney, PREVIEW

Gillian Anderson, Rachael Taylor, Lance Gross and Dermot Mulroney in Crisis on Watch
Making a drama out of a Crisis – Gillian Anderson, Rachael Taylor, Lance Gross and Dermot Mulroney
Rating: ★★ 

Watch: starts Friday, 2 January, 9pm

Story: It's field trip day for the students of Ballard High, a school that educates the children of Washington DC's elite – top-of-their-industry CEOs, international diplomats, political power players, and even the President's son. But when their bus is ambushed on a secluded rural road, the teenagers and their chaperones are taken, igniting a national crisis.

GILLIAN ANDERSON must have been bored and at a loose end when she decided to knock out this piece of formulaic US drama. The actress, acclaimed this year for her brilliant performances in The Fall on the BBC and A Streetcar Named Desire at the Young Vic, is a big catch for this NBC thriller – but wasted in a very run-of-the-mill show.

She plays Meg Fitch, CEO of an international IT company, whose daughter is caught up in a kidnapping plot launched by an evil mastermind. This involves abducting a busload of children whose parents are all VIPs, including the President's son and Fitch's teenage girl.

Fitch is also the estranged sister of Susie Dunn (Rachael Taylor), who just happens to be the lead FBI
Rachael Taylor as Susie and Gillian Anderson as Meg in Crisis
Can estranged sisters Susie and Meg work together
investigator on the case. You can see where this is going.

As the blurb says, 'The most powerful people in the world are brought to their knees.' This presupposes that there aren't any powerful people in the world outside of the US, but Crisis is a show that likes to keep things simple.

It's a jolt to see Gillian Anderson in this 

Dermot Mulroney, perhaps best known for the 1988 film Young Guns and more recently August: Osage County, is Francis Gibson, an ex-CIA man betrayed by the government, who is on the bus chaperoning the kids when the kidnap occurs. He is a complete wuss who is shunned by his daughter, but could be the authorities' best bet to undermine the gang as he is an experienced intelligence man.

While there are 'twists' and several characters are not what they appear to be, the thriller as a whole is so divorced from reality as to be dull to watch. To attract a young audience it is also full of bland, pretty teens making up the abductees.

The biggest mystery about the series is why Gillian Anderson wanted to do it. The role does not stretch her and she could virtually sleepwalk through her scenes. It's almost as disconcerting as seeing Laurence Oliver slumming it in The Betsy or John Gielgud and Helen Mirren in Caligula.

It would seem the major advertising-funded US television networks are having trouble finding their mojo in the wake of the acclaimed series flowing from the likes of subscription services HBO and AMC. Hostages was another new series of 2014 made by a traditional network (CBS) with a fine actor (Toni Collette), but like Crisis it was a thriller that did not thrill, and was dropped after one season.

Check out these links…
Crisis on Watch
Crisis on NBC


Friday, 19 December 2014

The Fall series 2 – finale falls flat

I WAS swept along by the latest series of The Fall. The acting has been spot on, the multi-layered
storylines have been intriguing, the setting and mood was compelling.

But the end was a crashing disappointment. The big twist that Stella had developed a weird thing for the serial killer Spector was not so much a revelation as a breathtaking letdown.

Gillian Anderson as DSI Stella Gibson and Jamie Dornan as Paul Spector had deservedly won plaudits and huge attention for their performances in the lead roles, but as the series concluded last night it felt as though The Fall had failed to deliver.

SPOILER ALERT My feeling was that Stella being shown as caring for the shot and injured murderer rather than the detective she had just made love to, who'd also been shot, was simply not convincingly developed through the series. We had to believe that because she had a father fixation she was therefore prone to fall for a serial killer.

The viewer needed to know more about her to believe that. What happened in her past? We never found out, and it was the character's plausibility that was shot by the end.

And so many characters and plot lines were discarded. We'd spent a lot of time with Spector's wife during the two series, but just when she finally discovers that she's been married to a killer she disappears from the story. Katie Benedetto also remained an enigma right to the end, while we got to see tortured victim Rose Stagg's suffering before she was virtually forgotten.

Then there was the corruption storyline from the first series that was ditched. Meanwhile, abusive husband Jimmy was the show's deus ex machina, a side character who conveniently appears from nowhere to shoot everyone and wrap things up.

The irony was that writer Allan Cubitt seemed so intent on setting up the final interview confrontation – the one part of the finale that worked best – but he dropped too many stories and characters along the way and never gave us a convincing Stella.

The Fall seems set up for a third series. But I won't now be waiting with bated breath.


Monday, 15 December 2014

Agatha Raisin: The Quiche of Death, Sky1, with Ashley Jensen, PREVIEW

Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death
Ashley Jensen and the cast of Agatha Raisin The Quiche of Death. Pics: BSkyB
Rating: ★★★

Sky1: Boxing Day, 8.30pm

Story: After a high-flying career as a PR in London, Agatha Raisin decamps for an idyllic life in the country. However, events take a tragic turn when a judge in the village quiche contest dies after sampling her quiche.

'TIS THE SEASON for jolly family dramas, so if you're hoping for something bloodcurdling and dark you'll have to wait till next month when the likes of Broadchurch 2 and Fortitude arrive.

In the meantime, Sky1 is wheeling out this slice of festive flan, based on the bestseller by MC Beaton
Matthew McCooey as DC Bill Wong & Jason Barnett as DI Wilkes
The old bill, played by Matthew McCooey and Jason Barnett 
(of Hamish Macbeth fame). Ashley Jensen heads a nice cast as Agatha, a PR whizz who is
escaping life as a publicist for cretinous boy bands and heading in her Porsche for a new life in the Cotswolds.

Mathew Horne, Robert Bathurst and Hermione Norris are all on parade here, in a light-hearted crime drama full of comedy sex, buffonish cops and oddball country nimbys. First up is Robert Bathurst as the village lothario, Andy, a reactionary sort constantly on the hunt for new conquests.

Murder at the village fete

Hermione Norris is his snooty wife and Mathew Horne is Agatha's work colleague. Trying to
Ashley Jensen as Agatha Raisin
Agatha goes snooping
immerse herself into village life, the competitive Agatha enters the local quiche contest. When one of the judges snuffs it after eating her quiche, the newcomer finds herself in a spot of serious bother.

The two-hour production has that prerequisite for most Brit TV dramas these days – a pretty twee setting. So it looks good, moves at a slick pace and the actors look like they're enjoying themselves.

The comedy is about a subtle as a pantomime, with the cops in particular being too annoying to be funny. But Ashley Jensen as the dressed-to-the-nines city slicker is a charming character, and it certainly tickles the odd ho-ho-ho out of you.

In fact, once the crime is committed the whole show becomes a lot more savoury, particularly when Mathew Horne reappears, trying at one point to console number-one suspect Agatha – 'What did the Boston Strangler say? It's better to be wanted for murder than not to be wanted at all.'


Sunday, 7 December 2014

Jack Irish: Dead Point, Fox, with Guy Pearce, Barry Humphries PREVIEW

Guy Pearce returns for Jack Irish's latest telemovie, Dead Point
Rating: ★★★★

Fox: starts Monday, 8 December, 9pm

Story: Jack Irish is a part-time lawyer and finder of people who’d rather remain lost.  When a high profile judge, Justice Loder, commissions him to locate a mysterious red book, Jack is thrown into a world of sexy club owners, drug dealers, bisexual blackmailers and unhinged killers.

THIS IS THE THIRD of the Aussie TV movies based on author Peter Temple's excellent novels. Guy Pearce returns as the bedraggled former criminal lawyer turned private eye and debt collector, with
The case blows up in Jack's face
Barry Humphries guesting this time round as Justice Loder.

Any series lucky enough to have a such an array of talent involved must be appointment viewing, and this doesn't disappoint. It's hard-hitting and dark, and in Pearce – with films as diverse as The Rover, Iron Man 3 and Animal Kingdom on his CV – it's got a terrifically charismatic lead star.

It starts disconcertingly to the song Red Right Hand by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, also the soundtrack to Peaky Blinders, recently concluded on BBC2. However, this is a world away from 1930s Birmingham.

Barry Humphries as Judge Loder

It begins with a seafront drug raid at a container port that goes wrong, with a suspect racing out of the scene in a Porsche.

Jack Irish gets pulled into the yarn when Justice Colin Loder – Barry Humphries – asks him to track
Kat Stewart as Ros
down a red leather-bound photo album containing compromising pictures.

Irish is a maudlin figure, just over a massive drinking binge following the murder of his wife, Isabel, by a former client. A one-time lawyer, he's given up on criminal law and now tracks down missing people. He often ends up face down in an alley after chasing a potential lead.

It's a character-rich drama, from the bar-flies at Jack's favourite watering hole, The Prince of Prussia, to the radio talk-show host Jack is romancing. Meanwhile, there's a juicy story of wrongdoing in high places that drives the plot.

Cast: Guy Pearce Jack Irish, Marta Dusseldorp Linda Hillier, Aaron Pedersen Cam Delroy, Roy Billing Harry Strang, Shane Jacobson as Barry Tregear, Barry Humphries Justice Loder, Kat Stewart Ros


The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, ITV, Jason Watkins, Anna Maxwell Martin PREVIEW

Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
In the spotlight – when police suspicion falls on Jefferies, the media circus consumes him. Pics: ITV
Rating: ★★★½

ITV: Wednesday, 10 December, 9pm; Thursday, 11 December, 9pm

Story: When Joanna Yeates, the resident of a property he owns, is found murdered, the pedantic and eccentric retired teacher Christopher Jefferies finds himself under suspicion.

ITV HAVE become specialists in dramatising true crime stories that have grabbed national headlines in recent decades. These have sometimes been controversial but usually sensitively produced.

This Is Personal: The Hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper, See No Evil: The Moors Murders, The Widower and Appropriate Adult (about Fred West) are all recent examples.

This latest is another considered and absorbing production, following events in 2010 surrounding the murder of Joanna Yeates. It focuses on the media frenzy and vilification of the victim's landlord, the eccentric – 'Nutty' as the headlines had it – Christopher Jefferies, who was wrongly arrested for the crime.

Jason Watkins is terrific in the lead

It's an absorbing drama, with fine performances depicting how the tragic disappearance and murder
Shaun Parkes as Paul Okebu in The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies
Shaun Parkes as Jefferies' solicitor
of Joanna Yeates ruptured the everyday normality in this little Bristol community. Jason Watkins is terrific as the pedantic, bookish and eccentrically coiffured Jefferies, hair-spraying his barnet or asking investigating plod if he should correct the spelling on the statement they are taking down from him.

Shaun Parkes is also very good as his solicitor, listening to the detectives going round in circles trying to corner Jefferies with their questions, while he seethes at the injustice visited on his client.

In one telling scene towards the end of the first of this week's two 90-minutes instalments, Jefferies is finally released from the nick to be confronted by the media character assassination that accompanied his incarceration.

'Based on true events' genre

'Weird', 'sinister', 'creepy' scream the headlines, while even the school he work at for 34 years
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies and Howard Coggins as Custody Officer in The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies
In custody – Jason Watkins as Jefferies
distances itself from him. In the aftermath of Hackgate, this story is another reminder of how ordinary people can get caught and minced in the grinder of media excess.

Peter Morgan, the writer behind true-life dramatisations such as Frost/Nixon, The Damned United and The Queen, among others, does a fine job of allowing the story to unfold in a sober but compelling way.

The 'based on true events' genre is a difficult one to do well and truthfully, but ITV have become masters of the form. I think the value of these stories is that they take us behind the wild headlines and the legal process, giving some small insight into how such dark events could ever have unfolded.

Cast: Jason Watkins Christopher Jefferies, Ben Caplan Charles Chapman, Shaun Parkes Paul Okebu, Nathalie Armin Melissa Chapman, James Lailey Dc Paul Connor, Joe Coen Dc Paul Batty, Ben Frimstone Postman, Anna Maxwell Martin Janine, Matthew Barker Greg Reardon, Carla Turner Joanna Yeates, Joe Sims Vincent Tabak, Jennifer Higham Tanja, Colin Mace Peter Stanley


Thursday, 27 November 2014

Life on Mars — Killer TV No.36

BBC, 2006-2007

‘A word in your shell-like… Don’t ever waltz into my kingdom playing king of the jungle.’
– DCI Gene Hunt
‘Who the hell are you?’ – DI Sam Tyler
‘Gene Hunt, your DCI, and it’s 1973, almost dinner time, and I’m having hoops.’ – DCI Gene Hunt

John Simm, Philip Glenister, Liz White, Dean Andrews

Identikit: A detective has an accident and is plunged 33 years back in time to an era when policing was more ‘robust’.

logos

High-concept crime drama – time-travel being the concept – that won a following through its freshness and cheekyness, principally in the character of Gene Hunt, the 1970s cop with unenlightened views on everything from women to coppering. Played with gusto by Philip Glenister, this throwback to 70s shows such as The Sweeney was the show's star, making a straight man out of John Simm's Sam Tyler, the contemporary cop pitched back in time. Sam, circa 2006, is distracted when his girlfriend, also a detective with Greater Manchester Police, is abducted by a killer. While David Bowie’s Life on Mars plays on his iPod, he is hit by a car – and wakes up in flares and butterfly collars on his shirt, with Life on Mars again playing, this time on an 8-track tape in his new car, a 1970s Rover P6. ‘I need my mobile,’ he tells the PC who finds him. ‘Mobile what?’ Plod responds. And so Sam finds himself part of Gene Hunt’s team, investigating a killer who may be related to the killer who has abducted his girlfriend in 2006. The first series is great fun, with Sam struggling with voices coming from his telly, apparently from a doctor treating him while he is in a coma in 2006, dealing with Hunt’s instinctual approach to crime solving – 'Anything you say will be taken down, ripped up and shoved down your scrawny little throat until you've choked to death’ – and trying to find his way back to the present day. The culture clash between Sam, used to do everything according to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, and bullying, bigoted, boozing Gene was beautifully written and played. The series – created by Tony Jordan, Matthew Graham and Ashley Pharaoh – juggled its crime plots and Sam’s story well, but is best-remembered for the chance it offered to chortle at the good old/bad old days when women were ‘birds’, offices were thick with fag smoke and fingerprints took two weeks to process. Forgotten how we used to booze heavily at work? Gene reminded us – ‘I’ve got to get down the pub and give the papers a statement, and if I don’t get a move on, they’ll all be half cut.’ Two series of Life on Mars were followed by three further series of 80s-set Ashes to Ashes, with the focus on Keeley Hawes's Alex Drake, but the retro-novelty and humour deflated during this run. Still, inspired mergings of the crime and sci-fi genres are rare, particularly ones with characters as memorable as Gene Hunt – 'What I call a dream involves Diana Doors and a bottle of chip oil.’ It won an International Emmy for best drama in 2006 and 2008.

Classic episode: The finale of the first series was emotional and clever, with Sam coming across his parents in 1973 and trying to prevent his father, Vic, from running away, which he thinks will enable him to emerge from his coma. Gene reveals that Vic is a ruthless gangster, and Sam’s flashbacks through the series are revealed to be memories of his younger self that he only now remembers.

Watercooler fact: Life on Mars was remade in America, lasting one season; in Spain, where it was called The Girl from Yesterday; and Russia, which gave it the title The Dark Side of the Moon.

More of the Killer 50


Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Sherlock 4 – new picture

Dr John Watson (MARTIN FREEMAN), Sherlock Holmes (BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH)

THE BEEB has just released this shot of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as they will appear in the next Sherlock special. Are they in fancy dress? Have they stepped back in time? Here are some Twitter tags if you want join in the speculation – #221back #sherlock #notkidding
 

Sunday, 23 November 2014

New TV Crime Dramas 2015

THIS IS the fifth time I have previewed forthcoming crime dramas for the year ahead, and it must be the most exciting yet. The BBC, ITV, C4 and BSkyB have commissioned a fantastic range of genuinely exciting new dramas with terrific actors – from thrillers such as Safe House with Christopher Eccleston and the character-driven series The Trials of Jimmy Rose with Ray Winstone, to outlandish grippers like The Chronicles of Frankenstein with Sean Bean.

In addition, some brilliant dramas will be back – Broadchurch included, while old faves Vera, Endeavour, Foyle's War and DCI Banks have also lined up new mysteries.

Let the crimewave begin…


Stanley Tucci, Sofie Gråbøl and Christopher Eccleston in Fortitude

Fortitude, Sky Atlantic

Sofie Gråbøl, Stanley Tucci, Michael Gambon, Richard Dormer, Christopher Eccleston, Luke Treadaway, Jessica Raine
Here's a major new drama from Sky Atlantic that has plenty of wow factor. A blockbuster cast, an amazing setting and a compelling crime premise. A town like nowhere else, Fortitude is
surrounded by the savage beauty of the Arctic landscape in the northernmost part of Norway, and there has never been a violent crime here. Until now. When a prominent member of the community is
brutally murdered, Sheriff Dan Anderssen (Richard Dormer) leads the investigation, but is disturbed by the arrival of a detective from London, Eugene Morton (Stanley Tucci), who is also there to conduct inquiries into the death. The town’s governor, Hildur Odegard (Sofie Gråbøl), meanwhile, tries to protect her tourism plans from being disrupted by the horror that has taken
place… From Simon Donald, creator of the gritty Low Winter SunJanuary 2015
Anticipation factor: ★★★★½

Code of a Killer ITV

David Threlfall, John Simm
Two top actors join what could be one of the most riveting true-life dramas of the year. Code of a Killer is based on the extraordinary true story of Alec Jeffreys’ discovery of DNA fingerprinting and its first use by Detective Chief Superintendent David Baker in catching a double murderer. David Threlfall plays David Baker, who between 1983 and 1987 headed the investigation into the murders of two Leicestershire schoolgirls, Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth. Only a few miles away, Dr Alec Jeffreys, played by John Simm, was a scientist at Leicester University who, in September 1984, invented a remarkable technique to read each individual's unique DNA fingerprint. When a local teenager admitted to one of the murders but not the other, Baker asked Jeffreys to analyse the DNA evidence left at the crime scenes. Both men were shocked to discover that the teenager was innocent, his confession false. DCS Baker then took the brave step to launch the world’s first-ever DNA manhunt, testing more than 5000 local men to track down the killer. 2015
Anticipation factor: ★★★★½

The cast of Broadchurch 2 in rehearsal

Broadchurch, ITV

David Tennant, Oliva Colman, Jodie Whittaker, Andrew Buchan, Arthur Darvill, Charlotte Rampling
The teaser trailers are already running on ITV. In the first, David Tennant's character says: 'There was a boy, and he was killed. I caught the killer. So why am I still here?' In the second, Oliva Colman asks another question: 'There was a boy, and he was killed. What happened then destroyed my family, my job, and my town. So what do I do now?' Somehow, David Tennant has managed to fit in filming a US version of this hugely talked-about drama while also making Broadchurch 2 for ITV. So, back to those questions. Just how will writer Chris Chibnall follow up the brilliant – and conclusive – first series? And what role will Charlotte Rampling play in proceedings? January 2015
Anticipation factor: ★★★★½

The Frankenstein Chronicles, ITV

Sean Bean
OK, I know Frankenstein is a horror yarn, but this six-parter gives it a new twist as a crime mystery. At its centre is Inspector John Marlott, played by Game of Thrones' Sean Bean, who goes on a terrifying journey in pursuit of… well, you can probably guess. Set in 1827 in London, it opens with Home Secretary Robert Peel recruiting Marlott. As he stands on the edge of the Thames contemplating the arrest of some opium smugglers, Marlott makes a shocking discovery.  The body of a dead child is washed up on the shore and on further examination of the corpse he is horrified to discover it’s not actually a child but rather a crude assembly of body parts arranged in a grotesque parody of a human form. Eeuggh! Filming begins in Northern Ireland in January.
Anticipation factor: ★★★★½

SS-GB, BBC1

So, after fading from the cultural landscape in recent years, the brilliant Len Deighton is back. The Brit, now 85, created Harry Palmer and wrote superb thrillers from the 1960s on. He is still writing some interesting books (most recently 2012's ebook James Bond: My Long and Eventful Search for His Father). Now, the BBC is set to drag the master back into the limelight with this five-part dramatisation of one of his most audacious yarns. It is set in the 1940s and imagines a post-war world in which the Nazis have won the Battle of Britain and London is under German occupation. Archer is a Scotland Yard detective working under the SS and facing the dilemma of whether to collaborate or join the resistance. Written by the writers of the recent Daniel Craig Bond movies, Robert Wade and Neal Purvis, who say: 'Len Deighton’s SS-GB is a brilliant tale of espionage that dares to think the unthinkable, and we are very excited to be adapting it for television.' 2015

Anticipation factor: ★★★★½

Cuffs, BBC1

This certainly looks like being one of the major new cop series of 2015. Filling the distinctive boots of the regular weekday cop serial once worn by The Bill, this police show will go out every weekday evening at 8pm – BBC1's first new drama in this slot for more than eight years. Set in Brighton, it will focus on the relationships between uniforms and detectives, and how they all deal with an overstretched and under-resourced job. Written by Julie Gearey, who also wrote the excellent character-driven stories of Prisoners' Wives. She says: 'As a massive fan of cop shows, I’m thrilled to create a new ensemble police series for BBC1. Intimate and realistic, we’ll be right on the shoulders of our cops as we follow them into every corner of lives in which work pressures don't end at the station door.' 2015

Anticipation factor: ★★★★½

Bob Odenkirk returns as Saul Goodman

Better Call Saul, AMC

Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks
The much anticipated prequel to Breaking Bad, with Bob Odenkirk breathing fresh life into Saul Goodman, his slippery lawyer character from the landmark series. The good news is that Vince Gilligan, the showrunner behind BB, has developed the new show with Peter Gould. Gilligan has said: 'I like the idea of a lawyer show in which the main lawyer will do anything it takes to stay out of a court of law. He'll settle on the courthouse steps, whatever it takes to stay out of the courtroom. That would be fun—I would like that.' Aaron Paul, who was brilliant as BB's Jesse Pinkman, has said he is in talks with Gilligan over some guest appearances. It hits the screen in the US on Sunday, 8 February, 2015. No news yet of its UK home. See the taster below…
Anticipation factor: ★★★★


Black Work, ITV

Sheridan Smith, Matthew McNulty, Douglas Henshall, Geraldine James, Phil Davis
Sheridan Smith plays policewoman Jo Gillespie, whose world is thrown into turmoil when husband Ryan (Kenny Doughty), an undercover policeman, is shot dead in mysterious circumstances. She sets out to discover who murdered him and has to confront difficult truths about her family life and her marriage to Ryan. 2015
Anticipation factor: ★★★★


The Last Panthers, Sky Atlantic

Samantha Morton, Tahar Rahim, John Hurt
Another major new drama from Sky Atlantic – and another cracking cast. It's written by award-winning Jack Thorne, of Skins, Glue and This Is England renown, and will be directed by Johan Renck of Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead fame. Phew! It opens with a daring diamond heist before delving into the dark heart of Europe where a shadowy alliance of gangsters and ‘banksters’ now rules. Samantha Morton is Naomi, a British loss adjustor charged with recovering the stolen diamonds whatever the cost. John Hurt portrays Tom, her nefarious boss. Also in pursuit is a French-Algerian policeman Khalil, played by Tahar Rahim, one of France’s most talented actors. 2015
Anticipation factor: ★★★★


The Secret Agent, BBC1

A three-part adaptation of Joseph Conrad's novel by Bafta-winning writer Tony Marchant, the man behind the excellent Garrow's Law. London, 1886. Unbeknown to his loyal wife Winnie, Soho shopkeeper Verloc works as a secret agent for the Russian government. Angry that Britain harbours violent anarchists, the Russians coerce Verloc into planting a bomb that will provoke the authorities into cracking down on these extremists. Caught between the Russians and the British police, Verloc reluctantly draws his own family into a tragic terror plot. Tony Marchant says: 'Conrad's depiction of 19th-century terrorists committed to the destruction of the West, with a suicide bomber in their midst, was not only prophetic but is undeniably contemporary and compelling. Equally it is a heartbreaking story of a family caught up in the political machinations of a world in ferment.' 2015

Anticipation factor: ★★★★


  • Fruity Reels Official Site Providing fans of UK pub-style fruit machines and slots with a comprehensive guide to their favourite games online. 


One of Us, BBC2

This four-part thriller is written by The Missing's Jack Williams and set in the Scottish Highlands.A horrific double murder rocks the lives of two families living side by side in rural Scotland. But instead of focusing on the investigation, One Of Us explores the fallout for the grieving relatives, and the dark consequences that threaten to shatter their lives… 2015
Anticipation factor: ★★★½

Undercover (working title), BBC1

Political thriller about a woman who is about to become Britain's first black Director of Public Prosecutions. Just as she is about to enter the public spotlight, she discovers her husband has a secret side – is it an affair, or something more sinister? Writer Peter Moffat says: 'After immersing myself in WW1 and the 1920s in The Village I am relishing the prospect of returning to the contemporary British political landscape to look at where we stand and how we got here. Undercover is a thriller about identity, trust and the struggle to lead a morally principled personal and professional life, while working up close with the police, press, politicians and criminals who have so corrupted and damaged public life over the last 20 years.' 2015
Anticipation factor: ★★★½


Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death, Sky1

Ashley Jensen
A press officer turned detective and a killer quiche are at the heart of this Christmas crime fest. PR
Ashley Jensen turns sleuth
whizz Agatha moves from London to the Cotswolds to begin a new dream life. To immerse herself in local society she enters the annual quiche-making competition – only to end up the suspect in a murder investigation. Ashley Jensen explains: 'Agatha Raisin is a strong forthright, independent, driven, successful woman, who is both funny and flawed, a real woman of our time.  Determined to fulfil her lifelong dream and in doing so she discovers that all is not quite as rosy as she had anticipated. Undeterred she finds a new purpose in her life.' The two-hour film is based on the novel series by MC Beaton, creator of Hamish Macbeth. December 2014
Anticipation factor: ★★★½


Arthur & George ITV

Martin Clunes
Three-parter based on Julian Barnes' novel and focusing on a fascinating true series of events in the life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Martin Clunes will play the celebrated novelist and physician who created the detective Sherlock Holmes. Conan Doyle recaptures his zest for life, following the death of wife, Louisa, by pursuing and challenging a notorious miscarriage of justice. It is the case of George Edalji, a solicitor and the son of Hampshire vicar the Reverend Shapurji Edalji and his wife, Charlotte. George has served seven years in Pentonville Prison for allegedly mutilating animals and sending threatening letters, a series of offences which have become known as The Great Wyrley Rippings. 2015
Anticipation factor: ★★★★


Top of the Lake, BBC2

The first series, set in New Zealand and starring Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss, did not create a huge stir when it went out in 2013, but there is no denying its quality or that it was an absorbing series and production. Well, Academy Award-winning director Jane Campion is returning – as writer – with a six-part follow-up, this time set in Sydney, Australia…
Anticipation factor: ★★★★


London Spy, BBC2

Ben Wishaw
A five-part thriller created by novelist Tom Robb Smith, who wrote the superb hit novel Child 44 (which is being made into a movie for next year with Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman). This is about an innocent and young romantic drawn into the dangerous world of espionage.
Anticipation factor: ★★★★


No Offence, C4

Joanna Scanlan, Alexandra Roach, Elaine Cassidy, Will Mellor
Joanna Scanlan (The Thick of It, Getting On), Alexandra Roach (The Iron Lady, Utopia) and Elaine Cassidy (The Paradise, Harper’s Island) star as the unorthodox crack team of cops at the heart of Paul Abbott’s new series – an outrageous police procedural series from the writer of Shameless and State of Play. Set in a crumbling police station on the wrong side of Manchester, it aims to shock, move and have audiences laughing. It's a seven-parter, with an additional extended opening episode. 2015
Anticipation factor: ★★★★

Continued…