BBC Two’s Murder Review

A new BBC Two crime drama from ‘The Killing’s director Birger Larsen

© BBC

BBC Two’s Murder – directed by Scandinavian Birger Larsen (The Killing) is refreshingly different. A Nottingham council estate resident is found dead, beaten to death with a bottle in the flat she shares with her sister Coleen (Karla Crome).  Passing through the town is Stefan (Joe Dempsie, The Fades) who is the prime suspect and is immediately arrested by police, as he was with her the night she died. So did Stefan really do it?  Or was it someone else? Has he been framed?

Well it is always a little more complicated than that isn’t it?

A very hard-hitting programme, well written by screenwriter Robert Jones, it moves away from the clichés of the typical crime drama, not overly sentimental, it stays sympathetic to the troubled lives of the characters in the murder story, they themselves victims of circumstance and fate. The suspect pleads his innocence, the police think they have it in the bag due to blood stained clothing belonging to Stefan and his fingerprints on the murder weapon, her sister Coleen becomes seemingly insincere in her declarations as the programme goes on. Revelations about Coleen and her sister’s wayward mother give you a portrait of a very troubled life and resentments bubbling underneath the surface.

The drama’s format gives us monologues from the police, suspects and witnesses, all trying to give a true account of the murder and get to the truth. The mix of monologue and emotional reality does work extremely well, miles away from the normal crime drama genre. Occasionally venturing to CCTV footage and flashbacks, it is beautifully lit and shot, of course bleak, but has a glittering freshness, Scandinavians seem to have the right style for shooting crime dramas, this relating to their gift for Nordic Noir.

This drama does nothing for Nottingham’s reputation, once dubbed Shottingham, crime is very much associated with the town, but in truth Murder is a reflection of any city, with inner city poverty and problems relating to the situation, the location isn’t really that essential to the narrative. It is something very different and should be embraced for its uniqueness. Murder is very much a twisted hybrid of Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads, Jimmy Mcgovern’s The Accused, Shameless and The Jeremy Kyle Show .

The dramatic conclusion isn’t pretty, but the subject matter cannot be anything else. The cast really do the script justice and play their parts naturally with ease, the result is gripping and tense; finding out what really went on the night of the murder isn’t that much of a surprise, but the element of shock is inevitable.

If you missed Murder you can catch up on BBC iplayer.