02 March 2015

TV Crime Log: Arthur, Banks, Following

Arthur And GeorgeThe Sherlock Holmes juggernaut ploughs endlessly on. This time it’s Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who gets the, er, Arthur Conan Doyle treatment.

It’s not often we mention ITV on this site without typing the names Vera, Banks or Lewis, but Arthur and George—the network’s three-part adaptation of Julian Barnes’ acclaimed novel—is worth a look.

Written by Ed Whitmore, the drama is based on true events in the life of Conan Doyle, in which he famously championed two little girls who claimed they photographed fairies at the bottom of their garden in Cottingley Beck. Oh wait, no, that was something completely different.

The blurb will provide the seven-per cent solution:

In 1906, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is mourning the loss of his wife, Louisa. Her death, after a long and drawn out illness, has caused Arthur to slump into a guilt-ridden malaise: he fears that Louisa may have suspected that he was an adulterer, in thought if not in deed, due to his friendship with Jean Leckie. Even writing his famous Sherlock Holmes stories cannot rouse Arthur. Then his secretary, Woodie, comes across a letter from a Mr George Edalji, a young Parsee solicitor, who was sent to prison for three years for a crime that he attains he did not commit. George wants Arthur’s help to clear his name: could this be Arthur’s chance to right a wrong?

George was convicted of a spate of sending poisonous letters and animal maimings, in the Staffordshire village of Great Wyrley, in 1903. As George relays the story of his family’s persecution, which inadvertently led to his arrest, Arthur is convinced of George’s innocence; Woodie, however, is not so sure. Having been warned off reinvestigating the case by the very Judge who presided over George’s trial, Arthur is even more determined to discover the true culprit – the so-called ‘Wyrley Ripper’.

Arthur and Woodie travel to Great Wyrley to visit George’s family, to be shown the very letters that George’s father, the Reverend Shapurji Edalji, received, supposedly from his own son. However, Arthur and Woodie’s arrival at the Vicarage causes a bit of a stir: it seems that someone is intent on learning what they do and do not know. Could this be the Wyrley Ripper, trying to warn them off?

That blurb wad almost as long as a Holmes short story. Martin Clunes plays Conan Doyle, as you can see. Arthur And George is on ITV tonight at 9pm.

DCI BanksAnd if we’re going to have to stay with ITV then it’s inevitable, I’m afraid, that we’re going to have to mention one of the above names. Banks, for example. DCI Banks, Stephen Tompkinson’s grim-faced Dales copper, is back.

Adapted from Peter Robinson’s DCI Banks books, Alan Banks is a former Metropolitan Police copper who downsized to the Dales. Robinson emigrated to Canada in 1974, and writes about the fictional town of Eastvale from Toronto.

In this new series, Banks does have quite a good reason to look heartily pissed-off, as the blurb confirms:

What Will Survive When Banks’ suffers a massive personal loss, along with knowledge that Annie is back with her former boyfriend David, he is forced to navigate a complex murder investigation while still grieving.

A young Estonian woman is found dead on a piece of wasteground, suspected of being buried alive. As they piece together her movements, the team uncover a world of prostitution and drugs hidden behind a respectable veneer. They discover the murder victim had come to the UK searching for her sister, who went missing recently. No one wants to talk – but they eventually trace her sister’s pimp, who claims to run a legitimate escort business.

Helen and Banks make inroads with the prostitutes’ driver and Helen begins to suspect his autistic son might have had something to do with Katrin’s death, but when their house is burned down in a tragic fire Banks and his team begin to uncover an even more disturbing truth.

You can see DCI Banks on Wednesday at 9pm on ITV.

The FollowingNow that Jack Bauer gone into hibernation, the most hapless action hero on the small-screen must be Kevin Bacon’s Ryan Hardy. He’s back in the third series of so-bad-it’s-good The Following on Sky Atlantic, Saturday night at 9pm.

Now his usual antag Joe Carroll is on Death Row, we are promised a new Big Bad and, importantly, new show-runners. Amen to that.