Tuesday, 20 October 2009


Scottish legendary actor Robbie Coltrane is back on ITV in the ambitious Murderland, a three-part thriller written by David Pirie (Murder Rooms).

The young generation know him as Rubeus Hagrid in the Harry Potter franchise but for the others he's far more. A great comedian, one of the most brilliant UK actors and his resume is a piece of British Pop culture: The Comic Strip Presents (1982-1985), Alfresco (1983-1984 - with Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie), Tutti Frutti (1987), two Bond movies as Valentin Zukovsky and, of course, Cracker (1993-1996).

In Cracker, created by Jimmy McGovern, Robbie Coltrane was the abrasive drinking and gambling police psychologist Eddie "Fitz" Fitzgerald. The show lasted three seasons plus one special (White Ghost) in 1996 and a one-off return in 2006. And now Coltrane is back in an ITV crime drama, thanks to a change in the Harry Potter shooting schedule.

Produced by Touchpaper Scotland and directed by Catherine Morshead (Viva Blackpool, Ashes to Ashes) Murderland tells the story of a murder through the eyes of three central characters: Carrie (Bel Powley) the daughter of the murdered woman, Douglas Hain (Robbie Coltrane), the detective in charge of the investigation, and Sally the murder victim (Lucy Cohu).

Still haunted by her mother’s murder, the adult Carrie (Amanda Hale) cannot move on from the terrible unexplained events that occurred when she was a child and needs to uncover the truth. Her determination leads her to the conclusion that only one man can help her, and this man is Douglas Hain.

Bringing back the versatile Robbie Coltrane to television drama is a nice coup and has all of the safe bet for ITV. British crime dramas do well on domestic market, sell good abroad (we can suppose more than Kingdom) and Coltrane is a "National treasure" in the UK. Though inevitably comes the comparison between his new character and the beloved doctor Fitzgerald, the flawed but genius sleuth of Cracker. The man himself insists on the differences between Douglas Hain and Fitz (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/6349680/Robbie-Coltrane-on-Murderland-interview.html).

The story, influenced by film noir, is told over two different time frames and covers three different points of view - with two different Douglas Hain. Not Cracker? Hain is all the qualities of Fitz incarnated (and Fitzgerald had a lot) minus the sarcastic old bad boy aspect. And he looks more ambiguous than he seems.

Anyway could we refuse something with Robbie Coltrane starring in it?

Murderland started yesterday on ITV1 and goes on next monday at 9pm (British Time).

Update (13.59 - French Time): Robbie stays robust for ITV and wins against David Attenborough's Life on BBC One. Murderland premieres with 6.3m (25.9%) at 9pm vs 4.6m for Life and hurts badly FlashForward - shown on Five in the UK (http://www.broadcastnow.co.uk/ratings/itv1s-murderland-kills-bbc1s-life/5007066.article).

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