Saturday, 10 October 2015


[Spoiler-Free] Human bones are discovered in the cellar of a demolished house. DCI Cassie Stuart and her colleague DS Sunny Khan investigate.

A car key discovered near the remains leads them to a bag and a 1976 diary in what happens to be a 39-year old murder case

« Is a crime less serious because time's passed? Is it wrong... less wrong... because it was done 50 years ago, or 60, or 70? »

Unforgotten, a 6 X 60-minute cold case crime drama directed by Andy Wilson (Ripper Street, Kidnap and Ransom), started on thursday on ITV. It is the first commission for Mainstreet Pictures, the indie prodco set up by former ITV drama execs Laura Mackie and Sally Haynes. Created and written by Chris Lang (Undeniable, A Mother's Son), Unforgotten stars Nicola Walker (Last Tango in Halifax) and Sanjeev Bhaskar (Goodness Gracious Me, The Indian Doctor) as DCI Cassie Stuart and DS Sunil "Sunny" Khan. The detectives begin their search for the identity of the body found in the basement of a Victorian building at 27 Arlingham Place, Willesden, London. 

This premiere episode introduces four seemingly unconnected characters in different corners of the country. There's wheelchair-bound Eric Slater (Tom Courtenay), who tries to cope with the dementia of his wife Claire (Gemma Jones). Lizzie Wilton (Ruth Sheen) runs a community football team with her husband Ray (Brian Bovell) and helps a kid to prepare his exams. The Alansugaresque Sir Philip Cross (Trevor Eve) is the new entrepreneur tsar of the government and he's married to Shirley (Cherie Lunghi). And finally Robert Greaves (Bernard Hill), a priest with a serious accounting problem.

Thanks to scientific wizardry, the connection between the four appears to Stuart and Khan. DCI Cassie Stuart is a clever and tenacious investigator. She lives with her father Martin (Peter Egan) with whom she shares a passion for doing The Times crossword. DS Sunny Khan is an overworked but excellent copper. They form a perfect professional partnership, without conflict nor sexual tension, often punctuated with welcomed humorous conversation. The pairing of the brilliant Nicola Walker and the versatile and talented Sanjeev Bhaskar as this new sleuth duo works great. 

Chris Lang competently assembles his gripping and atmospheric whodunnit puzzle. The multi-stranded narrative is served by an impressive cast. Amongst the ever increasing flow of British crime dramas Unforgotten makes the difference while following the path of illustrious predecessors like Prime Suspect. Jonathan Harden plays forensic pathologist Sean Rawlins. All We Do, the title song is performed by Oh Wonder. Michael Price (Sherlock) composed the superb music. The fascinating title sequence is from Peter Anderson Studio. Unforgotten is produced by Tim Bradley (Death in Paradise, Primeval) and exec produced by Laura Mackie, Chris Lang and Sally Haynes. BBC Worldwide distributes it globally. (An interview of Chris Lang)

Wednesday, 7 October 2015


[Spoiler-Free] Oxford-set British detective drama Lewis (Inspector Lewis in the US), a spin-off from Inspector Morse, was launched in 2006. Although it was assumed that Series 7 would be its last, Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox returned as Lewis and Hathaway for an eighth series last year on ITV.  

Series 9 premiered yesterday in the U.K. (Lewis is co-produced by the American network PBS) with the first part of One for Sorrow.

DI Robbie Lewis, pathologist Laura Hobson (Clare Holman) and DS Lizzie Maddox (Angela Griffin) try to identify the remains of a body found in a well. Meanwhile DI James Hathaway visits his estranged father Philip (Nicholas Jones), who's now in a care home because of dementia. Young avant-garde artist Talika Desai (Shanaya Rafaat) and her agent Sean Wilkinson (Ralf Little) open an exhibition of her artwork mixing video and taxidermy. But she's found dead the next day from an apparent drug overdose. Joe Moody (Steve Toussaint), the new Chief Superintendent, is dubious about Lewis's motivation for coming out of retirement and he threatens his position as a consultant for Oxfordshire Police.

Since 2013 each series of Lewis consists of stories split by ITV in two 60-minute instalments. This inappropriate change, conveniently turning three episodes into six, breaks the momentum of the story. Thankfully, feature-length versions are still aired on PBS or French public broadcaster France 3. Directed by Nick Laughland (Midsomer Murders), One for Sorrow is written by the talented Helen Jenkins, behind the return of Lewis and Hathaway in the excellent Entry Wounds last year. The cast, which also includes Emma Cunniffe, Steve Pemberton, Helen Schlesinger, and Tim Piggott-Smith, is really great.

The portrayal of Philip Hathaway by Nicholas Jones is touching. Dementia is approached with sensitivity in this very good episode (1). Angela Griffin returns to what successfully became a detective trio in the previous series. The only problem for now is the new boss, CS "Don't bother with the 'Sir' thing, it's Joe" Moody, whose only purpose is to be the perfect idiot. Of course, it's hard to replace Chief Superintendent Jean Innocent, played by Rebecca Front, but let's hope that the character will evolve rapidly in the second half (2). Lewis is a co-production ITV Studios and Masterpiece. The music, composed by Barrington Pheloung, is orchestrated and conducted by Matthew Slater.

(1) Interestingly, Kevin Whately investigated the subject of dementia in a formidable 2009 documentary produced for ITV's programme Tonight (
(2) The two-part format definitely doesn't help.

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Saturday, 3 October 2015


Cornwall, 1936. The young Judith Dunbar is enrolled in a boarding school before her mother and sister rejoin her father in Asia. She becomes friends with one of her classmates, the rebellious Loveday Carey-Lewis. Loveday invites Judith to Nancherrow, the magnificent Carey-Lewis family estate. 

Coming Home (1998), a two-part TV serial based on the novel by Rosamunde Pilcher, is available since last month on French Region 2 DVD from Koba Films as La Dynastie Carey-Lewis - Le grand retour.
Born in Cornwall in 1924, Rosamunde Pilcher is the author of 28 romantic novels published from 1949 to 2000, first under nom-de-plume "Jane Fraser" and later under her name. Pilcher's international breaktrough came in 1987 with The Shell Seekers, a family saga which became a worldwide best-seller. Two years later Angela Lansbury starred in an Anglo-American film for television adapted from the book (1) but it's actually viewers of German public broadcaster ZDF who made the work of Rosamunde Pilcher one of their favourite programmes during the 1990s.

Since 1993, the channel aired more than 100 adaptations of her books in the Rosamunde Pilcher Collection. Most of these TV movies or serials/mini-series are directly commissioned by ZDF and filmed in England, usually in Cornwall, with a majority of German actors. A few are international co-productions with a British main cast and some were simply bought for the collection. Scriptwriter John Goldsmith (Danny, the Champion of the World, The Return of The Saint) and director Giles Foster (Tales of the Unexpected) turned Coming Home (1995) into a 2 X 100-minute production from Portman Entertainment and Tele München, shown on ITV in April 1998 and on ZDF in June of the same year.

From 1936 to 1945, Coming Home follows the lives of members of the wealthy Carey-Lewis family and their friends through the eyes of Judith Dunbar. As a teenager, Judith is performed by Keira Knightley while the adult character is played by Emily Mortimer. Katie Ryder Richardson plays Loveday Carey-Lewis, Judith Dunbar's best friend, as an adult. The glamorous Diana (Joanna Lumley) and her much older husband Colonel Edgar Carey-Lewis (the legendary Peter O'Toole), Loveday's parents, accept Judith as one of their own. She discovers Nancherrow and also meets Tommy Mortimer (Patrick Ryecart) and Dr. Jeremy Wells (George Asprey).

When her aunt and tutor Louise (Penelope Keith) dies in a car accident Judith inherits a fortune. She gets attracted to Loveday's playboy brother Edward (Paul Bettany) and Loveday falls for Gus (Austrian actor Heiko Deutschmann). But World War II erupts and everybody faces its dramatic consequences. With an excellent cast (including Susan Hampshire and David McCallum), gorgeous locations (2), its romance and a wartime saga, Coming Home has all you can expect from the genre. The music was composed by Carl Davis (Pride and Prejudice).

ITV and ZDF aired a two-part sequel titled Nancherrow in 1999. In France it was coupled with Coming Home to be shown on M6 as La Dynastie des Carey-Lewis in 2001. Koba Films releases Coming Home in a two-disc set with the original dialogue track (subtitled or not) and a good dubbing by Dub'Club (American Horror Story, White Collar). Jean Fontaine and Xavier Varaillon wrote the French dialogues.

(1) The Shell Seekers was adapted again in 2006 with Vanessa Redgrave.
(2) Cornwall but also Wrotham Park, in Hertfordshire, doubling as Nancherrow.

[Update - March 12, 2016] (Nancherrow)

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