‘The Devil’s Hour’

A mysterious criminal with a unique relationship with time: a woman who awakens every night at 3.33am having experienced terrifying nightmares: a young boy with an intense social disorder. The Devil’s Hour is a six part supernatural-tinged drama full of suspense and unexpected plot developments.

Lucy (Jessica Raine) is a social worker with a heavy caseload yet she herself visits a child psychologist – her own eight-year son Isaac (Benjamin Chivers) is cold, withdrawn and devoid of any emotion. So much so the boy’s father Mike (Phil Dunster) has left, unable to cope with the emotional vacuum. Inexplicably, Lucy. dogged by terrifying nightmares, finds herself linked to a serial killer, Gideon Shepherd (Peter Capaldi), who has seemingly been active for several decades.

Over six episodes, The Devil’s Hour is a confusion of engaging uncertainties where nothing is quite what it seems. Wallpaper in one house appears in another, homeowners interchangeable as Lucy tries to protect Isaac and understand what is going on. It’s the arrested Gideon who holds the key – and in the interrogation room, he will only talk to Lucy. DI Ravi Dhillon (Nikesh Patel), in charge of the case, is more than happy to include Lucy in the challenge of the outside the norm investigation.

There’s an inevitability to similarities of other psychological dramas. But, bolstered by an excellent determined yet vulnerable Raine, The Devil’s Hour expertly dips in and out of memory and time, creating an engrossing supernatural narrative.

Rating: 71%

‘Conviction: the Murder of Stephen Lawrence’

A three part dramatisation, it took 18 years for the family of the murdered London teenager to finally achieve some kind of justice.

When DCI Clive Driscoll (Steve Coogan) inadvertently comes across a mass of seemingly abandoned case files, his curiosity results in the reopening of Stephen Lawrence murder case of 13 years earlier. A racially motivated attack had resulted in the black 18 year old being killed whilst waiting for a bus in south London.

Carefully revisiting evidence and attempting to reinterview witnesses and family members, Driscoll discovers police ineptitude and corruption as Stephen’s high-profile mother, Doreen Lawrence (Sharlene Whyte) continues to campaign for justice and wider anti-racism. With new technology available to assess evidence, Driscoll overcomes racism, internal stonewalling and the retirement of many of the investigating team to piece together new evidence in an attempt to charge some, if not all, of the five assailants.

It’s a respectful, moving and shocking three part dramatisation quietly and procedurally told as an embarrassed Driscoll works closely with an initially suspicious Doreen and ex-husband, Neville (Hugh Quarshie) now living in Jamaica. Two previous attempts had resulted in dashed hopes as evidence failed to convict. It still takes five years to bring charges against individuals who were the chief suspects 18 years earlier.

Rating: 66%

‘The Responder’ (Season 1)

Heavy-duty, gritty Scouse (Liverpudlian) police crime series as Chris, an on-the-edge policeman and former detective, struggles to focus on a drug bust escalating out of control.

Written by former Merseyside first responder Tony Schumacher, there’s no doubting the authenticity of this five part series. Chris (a superb Martin Freeman) is a burnt out wreck, a man struggling with family and the honesty and responsibility of being a policeman in Liverpool. He’s not one hundred percent straight himself, with best mate from school, Carl Sweeney (Ian Hart), a local crime boss. A few tip offs have certainly gone Sweeney’s way. So when a very large stash of heroin gets stolen by local junkie Casey (Emily Fairn), there’s the assumption that Chris will quickly deal with it and return the goods to its rightful owner.

Nothing’s quite that straightforward as Chris starts to question his loyalties, not helped by the seasoned copper forced to partner with new recruit, Rachel (Adelayo Adedayo) who has her own personal problems. Pulled in all directions, an immensely likeable Chris with his vulnerabilities, his moral contradictions, his compromises and his anxieties makes rash decision after rash decision that have far-reaching consequences.

Rating: 69%


A two part adaptation of Andrew O’Hagan’s novel of the same name, Mayflies is a tale of longstanding friendship, nostalgia and death.

Glaswegians Tully and Jimmy have been best friends for more than 30 years – even distance with married, successful writer Jimmy (Martin Compston) living in London doing little to diminish that bond. But an unexpected phone call will see Jimmy’s life change. It’s Tully (Tony Curran) – a man who has defined him since those teenage years. They have remained close – but the request from his best mate will challenge that friendship.

Interweaving the present day with the weekend in Manchester and the legendary Festival of the Tenth Summer five 17 year-old Glaswegians attended, Mayflies deftly tells its tale. Not only has Tully terminal cancer but he refuses chemotherapy. Even long-term girlfriend Anna (Ashley Jensen) cannot change his determination. With limited time, friendship and love are pitched against each other as Anna feels excluded from decisions being made by the two men.

It’s heartfelt in its telling as Jimmy finds himself between a rock and hard place – supporting his best mate yet doing things he does not agree with, the result of which distances him from Anna. Wife Iona (Tracy Ifeachor) provides much needed stability.

Based on a true story and O’Hagan’s own personal experience, Mayflies is unassuming and compassionate, nuanced and tender – even if somewhat cliched and lacking a more fleshed-out backstory.

Rating: 64%

‘The Walk-In’

As far right and neo-fascist activity in the UK increases due to political unrest amidst the Brexit referendum, the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox shocks the nation. The action of an individual, the fascist group National Action seizes the moment to promote further racial unrest.

With violence and strife an everyday occurence, activist Matthew Collins (Stephen Graham) of Hope not Hate, himself a former member of the British National Party, looks to ways of infiltrating the group. Seen as a grass and turncoat, Collins and his family are targets by former colleagues and are constantly forced to move home. But Collins is determined to expose the membership, made the more difficult when the British government outlaw National Action as a terrorist organisation. Unexpectedly, Hope not Hate is contacted by a new member of NA – Robbie Mullen (Andrew Ellis). Revealing plans to murder a second Labour MP, time is short as HNH fight to protect their source as the police demand his identity.

Based on true events, this five part miniseries is a hard watch, highlighting the ease in which the far-right prey on and convince bigotry and hate. Opinions and language can be difficult to stomach. Yet The Walk-In is patchy, with its (too) slow unravelling building towards the courtroom tension. Crowd scenes are unconvincing and at times the dialogue slips into agit prop tropes. But the saving grace is a cast where Graham is excellent (as always) as is Leanne Best as his supportive but pushed-to-the-edge wife, Alison, whilst Ellis captures the vulnerability and fear of Mullen.

Rating: 62%


With 15 million viewers per midweek episode, Crossroads was a British soap opera phenomena for more than two decades between 1964 and 1987. But, in Nolly, not all is well with the production company and the star of the show, Noele Gordon.

A three part miniseries, Nolly looks to the end of the contract between ATV and Noele Gordon (Helena Bonham Carter). A woman who defined daytime television, hosting more than 2000 episodes of Lunchbox in the 1950s including the first woman to interview a sitting prime minister, Noel Gordon was a tour de force. Beloved by the Crossroads cast and crew of more than 18 years, Nolly was no shrinking violet when it came to management and the men who controlled the network. Did she push them – and producer Jack Barton (Conn O’Neill) in particular – too far?

From queen bee to persona non grata, Nolly navigates the last days of her contract, supported by fellow cast member Tony Adams (Augustus Prew) as they window shop in Birmingham city centre or travel on buses basking in the glory of recognition and idolatry. Manchester had Coronation St but Birmingham had Crossroads. Rehearsals, internal bickering and aspirations, management confrontation, Nolly incorporates them all and, in three 45 minute episodes, paces itself to never outstay its welcome.

Capturing the colour palette of its time, shot lovingly on the high-tech end of low budget values (thus capturing the spirit of the original Crossroads with its wobbly sets and error-prone scripts) and presented on the discreet edge of camp, Nolly is an entertaining romp through the demise of this particular soap opera. It has its moments of serious navel gazing but producer Russell T Davies (Queer as Folk, It’s a Sin) keeps the wheels spinning forward so as not to dwell too long on any one given moment. And Bonham Carter is a delight.

Rating: 69%

‘Slow Horses’ (Season 2)

Slow Horses and the error-prone MI5 agents dumped at Slough House under the leadership of Jackson Lamb returns triumphant for a second series as Russian sleeper agents (code name Cicadas) are activated in the quiet of the English Cotswolds.

As agents Min Harper (Dustin Demri-Burns) and Louisa Guy (Rosalind Eleazar) are assigned to a seemingly run-of-the-mill security detail in central London involving Russian industrialists, River Cartwright (Jack Lowden) finds himself under cover in a picturesque, archetypal English village posing as a journalist. All seems polite and relatively low key until Lamb (Gary Oldman) connects the dots and recognises old pre-Berlin Wall emnities between old school UK and Russian agents.

But it being Slow Horses, nothing is as it initially seems and the old suspicions between Lamb and MI5 Deputy Head, Diana Taverner (Kristin Scott Thomas) are ever present – with the latter as always plotting to improve her position and power base within the organisation. Even if that means kowtowing to the odious Home Secretary, Peter Judd (Samuel West), who has his own political aspirations.

As with the first season, past events impact on the current with the experience of old hands such as Lamb and River’s grandfather, David Cartwright (Jonathan Pryce), crucial to the understanding of the modern day narratives. Catherine Standish (Saskia Reeves) also takes a more central role in the unravelling of Cicadas outside of her long-suffering office support to Lamb.

Whilst more intriguing than the kidnapping in season one, season 2 admittedly has a level of inevitable predictability to it as the investigation itself follows a more ‘traditional’ spy storyline. These plot lines may be more dominant in this season, but what sets Slow Horse apart is the slovenly Lamb and his relationship with and to his superiors (namely Taverner) along with the dynamics between colleagues in Slough House itself.

Rating: 78%

‘Somewhere Boy’

There’s undeniable charm to Somewhere Boy, an eight part British miniseries. But, understated and nuanced, a lack of grittiness undermines it’s dramatic impact.

As a baby, Danny’s mother was killed in a car crash. Overcome by grief, dad Steve (Rory Keenan) disappears off the grid with his son. Holed up in an isolated, rural house, Steve protects Danny from the horrors of the outside world, convincing his child of monsters roaming outside. The two live a solitary life.

Shown in flashback over the eight episodes, the socially awkward 18 year-old Danny (Lewis Gribben) now lives with his dad’s sister, Sue (Lisa McGillis) and her family. The teenager is desperate to fit in, trying to befriend his same-aged cousin Aaron (Samuel Bottomley), himself shy and struggling to make meaningful friendships. It’s this relationship that is the indomitable core to the drama where one boy, almost smothered by love from his father, seemingly adjusts easier to the outside world than the other as Aaron struggles with the rejection by his father who walked out on the family.

Gentle humour abounds alongside a family struggling to cope with the everyday – social services are more than happy to see Danny living with Sue and her new family. As the teenager is now 18 years-old, there’s little they can do. Sue herself certainly struggles personally, and her character is underwritten to be sufficiently assertive. But things come to a head when Danny discovers the cause of his mother’s death.

With a heartbreaking Gribben as the lonely, trusting, confused Danny mourning the death of his father along with the equally dysfunctional Samuel Bottomley as Aaron, Somewhere Boy is a beautifully written drama of friendship, love and support. But, whilst the wider plot lines are in themselves engaging enough, the writing struggles with these narratives and are generally left unresolved.

Rating: 67%

‘The Silence’

Following a cochlear implant, 18 year-old Amelia (Genevieve Barr), an only child, struggles to integrate into a hearing world. Encouraged to spend time in Bristol with her boisterous family of cousins, Amelia witnesses a murder whilst walking the family dog.

The Silence is a multitude of twists and engaging plot lines. Too scared to initially say anything, Amelia compromises her family – the career-driven detective put in charge of the case is none other than her uncle, DI Jim Edwards (Douglas Henshall). With the victim a police detective and an indication that police corruption may be at play, Amelia needs to be protected. A witness is suspected but the identity unknown – persuaded by his wife Maggie (Dervla Kirwan), Jim reluctantly puts his career on the line to keep it that way.

It’s a suspenseful four part miniseries as the level of corruption within the Bristol Drug Squad becomes increasingly apparent and with it the very real threat to both Jim and Amelia. As teenage family members become embroiled, so Jim becomes desperate to safeguard his family – and reveal the truth.

Rating: 62%


Whilst the dialogue may be somewhat clunky at times and individual scenarios pushing the boundaries of believable acceptance, the eight part miniseries Treason remains something of a thrilling espionage ride.

When Control (Head of MI6 – Ciarán Hinds) is poisoned, his deputy Adam Lawrence (Charlie Cox) temporarily takes over. Turns out that the poisoner, Kara (Olga Kurylenko), is a Russian agent and an ex lover of Lawrence from his days when posted in Baku. Secrets abound, personal and professional, past and present, as Lawrence finds everything he holds dear slipping away from him. With his wife Maddy (Oona Chaplin) questioning his secrecy, with Kara questioning his loyalty, with Foreign Secretary Audrey Gratz (Alex Kingston) questioning his experience and with the CIA questioning everything, it’s no easy initiation for Lawrence. But Control has his own secrets and a system in place to protect his position and that of the secret service.

Treason is an intrigue of a series – fast-paced, a few unexpected twists, the inevitable mole, several foolish decisions with dire consequences – even if it is flawed and oversimplified. Written by Matt Charman (Bridge of Spies), dialogue and storylines teeter on the edge of ludicrous at times, but it offers enough.

Rating: 60%