Friday, 20 December 2013


Lucan, the drama based on the mystery of the disappearing 7th Earl of Bingham following the brutal murder of his children's nanny Sandra Rivett in 1974, ended a cracking year of TV crime dramas.

Lady Lucan disagrees that it was an accurate portrayal, and I suppose she should know better than most, but it certainly reflected and expertly dramatised the facts as we have come to accept them over four decades. However, whether Lord Lucan killed the nanny is not a matter of fact but allegation that has never been tested in a court of law.

The inquest jury into the nanny's death named him as the culprit but that in itself led to a change in law and the role inquests could play in determining who was thought to be responsible for a death. Thanks to the Lucan case, inquests now have only one purpose - to identify the deceased, and how, where and when they died - and no longer can an inquest accusation lead to presumption of guilt before criminal trial.

The mystery of what happened to Lucan will no doubt be a matter of speculation long after our generation has gone. 100 years from now they'll still be talking about it, writing books about it, and making films about it, in the same way we still talk about Jack the Ripper and who it might have been.

We've always generally believed that Lucan either committed suicide or lived in anonymous exile in Africa after the murder and I was genuinely taken aback by the third possibility - that his powerful friends had him executed to save them further embarrassment. The thought literally made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on edge and a chill shuddered through me. It's certainly feasible but whether it's true or not will never, and can never, be known.

Rory Kinnear in the starring role is brilliant as usual. That stiff British upper lip appears to be a natural characteristic of his and despite it, he still allows silent emotion in any scene to break through with sublime subtlety. He's a great actor and has never stood in the shadow of his father Roy - who died after he fell from a horse while making The Return of the Musketeers.

It's been a great year for the younger Kinnear and I'm sure he has many ahead as he's now embedded as a national treasure as his father was before him.

Other TV dramas, with both well known and lesser known actors, have really given TV audiences something to look forward to after a hard day's work this last year. We had edge of the seat stuff, complex mysteries, original screenplays and satisfying conclusions - well almost.

I sat and watched The Fall avidly but felt cheated at the end when nothing was really resolved. In fact, such was my disappointment that I won't be watching it again if it comes back because what's the point? Perhaps it will just end up the same - a step closer but still miles away from stopping a vile killer that you want to see get brought down.

I wasn't too keen on the Top of the Lake NZ drama either which irritated the hell out of me. One episode was enough to bore the pants off me and thereafter, I was happy to find another favourite series to watch on iPlayer instead. Who Do You Think You Are is not crime but tells really heartwarming stories of celebrities' ancestors which are common to us all.

A list of this year's greatest dramas can be found in detail over at the Crime Time Preview Blog and that includes some of my favourites including Peaky Blinders which, for me, was the best this year.

I also loved Ripper St, Montalbano, both young and older, Endeavour, Life of Crime, Broadchurch, Secret State, Death in Paradise, Southcliffe, Foyle's War, Jack Taylor, What Remains and The Fear.

The new characters in New Tricks spiced up the series of the old dog detectives and I'm looking forward to the new series next year. I also watched Whitechapel, despite it's rather gory and unrealistic plot lines, but I was happy to suspend my disbelief in the name of fiction even though I had to stretch my reality check factor quite a bit. I think, ultimately, it's just not quite my cup of tea.

The last episode of the final Poirot ever made sealed the whole long standing series as a classic to be enjoyed by many generations. It was a brutally fantastic end for the great detective who ultimately was not quite all he appeared to be in his quest for justice above all else.

In addition to being this year's best and most original drama, Peaky Blinders also enjoyed the best theme tune - Red Right Hand by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. I'll raise my glass of Christmas mulled wine to it and hope that it to returns for a second series in the new year.

2014 is going to be great. I wish all my readers the best Christmas ever and hope the new year to come allows you to follow your own hopes and dreams as I intend to follow mine - but more about that as the new year unfolds.