"Maybe we should be concentrating on the suitcase"
In the glut of new crime series that have started this week - Death In Paradise, No Offence - Chris Lang's Unforgotten stands out for me as a clever twist on a crowded genre, plus it has the bonus of the ever-excellent Nicola Walker in a starring role. Unforgotten twist on the crime drama is to completely emphasise the latter over the former, so whilst each series hooks on a cold case brought back to life, the focus is on the lives that have continued in its wake.
The reveal of the format was a highlight of the beginning of the first series, the disparate stories of 4 seemingly unconnected people bound together by the discovery of their phone numbers in the victim's diary. And this second series wisely sticks largely to the same formula, introducing us to a Brighton gay couple in the process of adopting, a nurse on a cancer ward in London, a teacher applying for a headship in a school in special measures, a young man lying to his mother...all of whom are sure to be linked to the body found in a suitcase in the River Lea.
And learning from the mistakes that many a crime drama has made, the cast is strong from top to bottom, there's no guessing who it is because they're the most famous guest star. Mark Bonnar and Charlie Condou are the couple, the former seeming like the one most likely to have a tempestuous past; Rosie Cavaliero's nurse Marion has Holly Aird for a difficult sister and Nigel Lindsay for a husband; Badria Timimi's teacher is married to the lovely Adeel Akhtar; and as the wife of the deceased, we have Lorraine Ashbourne's DI Nixon who is married to none other than Douglas Hodge. So it's anyone's guess, especially since we don't yet know the connections (I'm watching Mr Lindsay though...)
The other way in which Unforgotten stands out is in presenting us with police-people with relatively uncomplicated lives, it really is a rarity these days to find a drama that doesn't find one of its lead investigators somehow involved in the plot. Indeed the highest drama for Walker's DCI Stuart and Sanjeev Bhaskar's DS Khan is their discussion about their favourite sandwiches, low-key perhaps but it is a well-balanced contrast that allows character to shine through (did I espy a hint of flirtation with the young hacker type though?). A great start then, which looks to have kept much of what made the first series so very good.