London Spy, which began on BBC 2 this evening, is the latest in a run of interesting TV crime shows, of varying types, offering varying degrees of entertainment. Before watching, I'd read that the author of the screenplay, Tom Rob Smith, had been interested in the "spy in the bag" case of Gareth Williams, and although he has emphasised that London Spy is not based on that tragic and mysterious real life case, I can understand why its bizarre circumstances fired his imagination.
The show has a lot going for it, including Ben Whishaw and Jim Broadbent in the cast, but for much of the first hour, it felt like a strong candidate for the Most Excruciatingly Slow Thriller of the Year award. Towards the end, things livened up, but for my taste, the Meaningful Pauses were definitely over-done. .
From Darkness, which recently ended, was another show of considerable potential which had its moments. But really it seemed like a two-part story padded out with lots of shots of silently anguished lead characters to fill four hours. A real disappointment. In contrast, Unforgotten has gone from strength to strength. It's been my must-watch show since it started, very well written and superbly acted.
I've also admired Beck, the powerful BBC 4 series based on the Sjowall and Wahloo characters, but updated and with brand new storylines. The plots are as varied and ingenious as those in Lewis (still going strong, still a class act) and it's the most impressive Scandinavian thriller I've seen in a long time. Martin Beck's sidekick Gunvald, in particular, is compelling to watch. Beck is a series I can strongly recommend.