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Sunday, 24 June 2012

Case Sensitive series 2, starring Olivia Williams PREVIEW

Darren Boyd and Olivia Williams as Waterhouse and Zailer. Pics: ITV
Rating: ★★★½ 

ITV1: Thursday, 12 July, 9pm

Story: Teacher Ruth Blacksmith has left her husband, Jason, for troubled musician Aidan. Jason has gone into an alcoholic decline, losing his job at the same school as his wife. Ruth wants a divorce and is looking forward to a new life with Aidan, until the love triangle results in murder.

The good news for anyone who enjoyed the first series of Case Sensitive is that Olivia Williams and Darren Boyd are back as Zailer and Waterhouse. The bad news is that there is just one two-part story to feast on.

The two detectives feature in the acclaimed psychological suspense novels of Sophie Hannah, and her story The Other Half Lives is the basis for this new mini – or should that be micro? – series.

Tormented love twisted into obsession is the theme here, as teacher Ruth is involved in a passionate affair with Aidan, a piano teacher who is a gifted pianist on the quiet. The trouble is that the husband Ruth is divorcing to be with Aidan – Jason – has just turned up stabbed to death.

Charlie lets off steam at a kick-boxing class
Love is in the air
Initially, Aidan and Ruth's plight is a little hard to empathise with. He is a bit cold and creepy, and she seems impulsive and ditzy. However, the skill in the storytelling opens up new dimensions to the characters and their pasts that make this a tragic, sensitive mystery.

But the two-parter's most intriguing storyline is actually what is going on between colleagues DS Charlie Zailer and DC Simon Waterhouse. Love, or lust, is in the air, as signified by the fact that the pair is constantly covering up the tension between them by talking testily at cross purposes, and that Zailer is primed to chew out any young female she spots talking to her deputy – watch out, DC Amber Williams.

Charlie's lack of reason is a nice counterpoint to the jealousy or possessiveness that has led to Jason's murder. By the end of the drama, viewers will certainly want to know what will happen next between the two detectives.



Olivia Williams and Darren Boyd
Suspect – did Aidan kill his lover's husband
Olivia Williams looks and acts pretty much like you'd imagine a typical modern police detective to be – not overly glam, good at her job, but having made personal sacrifices that may be taking their toll on her happiness. And together with Darren Boyd, here stepping away from his normal comedy roles, they make a believable, contrasting couple. An audience of nearly 7million certainly warmed to them in series one.

However, the BBC and ITV have been coming under criticism for their lack of ambition in drama, as the huge success of Scandi-noirs such as The Killing and The Bridge, along with the big US successes from HBO, expose how small-scale most UK series are.

And it is a shame that Sophie Hannah's novel has to be crunched into two hours, which creates some head-scratching moments (would Charlie visit the husband even though no crime's been reported, on the basis that he might harm Ruth in the future?).

Tensions rise between Charlie and Simon
Make British crime dramas longer and more ambitious
Ian Rankin, one of the UK's best crime authors (whose Rebus books were not brilliantly translated to TV), recently said he was jealous of the 20-hours the Scandinavians could devote to a series, leaving plot, characters and location 'room to breathe'.


The Other Half Lives is a good mystery – and will be switched on to eagerly by sport-saturated viewers this summer – but how much better would the much-loved books of British crime authors be if they were given more room to breathe?

Cast: Olivia Williams DS Charlie Zailer, Darren Boyd DS Simon Waterhouse, Eva Birthistle Ruth Blacksmith, Peter Wight DI Proust, Theo James Aidan Harper, Emily Beecham Mary Trelease, Ralph Ineson DC Colin Sellers, Christina Chong DC Amber Williams