Criminal: UK

Criminal: UK

2019 - United Kingdom

A gripping crime anthology series that takes a bold departure from the conventional police procedural, Criminal: UK was created by George Kay and Jim Field Smith and produced by their company Idiotlamp Productions. Prior to that the company produced Stag, a dark comedy for the BBC.

Criminal: UK zeroes in on the intense world of suspect interrogations, each self-contained episode focusing entirely on the high stakes questioning process within the confines of a police station as the clock for questioning is running down, putting added pressure on the interrogators. The camera deftly shuttles between the interview room, other officers observing from behind a two-way mirror, and occasionally into the corridor beyond – but never beyond those confines, creating an atmosphere of suspense and scrutiny.

An air of menace and tantalizing truth suffuses every scene, making Criminal: UK new, fresh, and rather thrilling. While the claustrophobic setting may overwhelm some viewers, it’s precisely this tight focus that sets the show apart - just raw, unfiltered interrogation.

Criminal: UK

The opening UK episode, Edgar, features David Tennant (Doctor Who) in arguably his finest small-screen role. He portrays Dr. Edgar Fallon, a suspect accused of raping and murdering his stepdaughter. Tennant’s portrayal is both pared down and brilliantly balanced, capturing the internal struggle of a man caught in the web of suspicion. An air of menace and tantalizing truth suffuses every scene.

In the second episode, Stacey, Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter) plays Stacey Doyle, an enigmatic and erratic pink-haired suspect facing intense questioning. With a shadowy colleague looking on, the team start poking holes in the evolving story of a combative and intriguing woman accused of poisoning her brother-in-law. In the third and last episode of the first series, Jay, the team badgers a reticent truck driver, Jay Muthassin (Youssef Kerkour - Man Like Mobeen) to locate an abandoned trailer full of immigrants, but a new interrogator's poor decision jeopardizes it all.

Criminal: UK

The format of the series was used to create three more blocks of three stories set in France, Germany and Spain – written and directed by people from the relevant countries, adhering to the original template. All four series were released simultaneously in September 2019. Criminal: France was comprised of the episodes titled Émilie, Caroline, and Jérôme, Criminal: Germany had Jochen, Yilmaz, and Claudia under interrogation and Criminal: Spain sought the truth from Isabel, Carmen, and Carmelo. All the versions were produced in Netflix’s production hub at Secuoya Studios, Ciudad de la Tele in Madrid.

Only the UK version returned for a second series of four more programmes. Filmed at Shepperton Studios, it was released on 16 September 2020, starting with Julia. Called in one by one on a Sunday, the team risks a legal entanglement when a routine interview with a convicted killer's wife takes a provocative turn as the spotlight falls on Julia Bryce (Sophie Okonedo - Clocking Off, Staying Alive), accused of withholding crucial information about the murder of Max Peeters. Okonedo’s portrayal is truly remarkable, as she deftly guides viewers through emotional transitions, enabling them to experience the shifts alongside her.

Criminal: UK

Series 2 Episode 2 is titled Alex. With scarce evidence to guide them, the investigators question an arrogant businessman, played by Kit Harington (Game of Thrones), who is accused of rape by a woman who works for him. Rather than focusing solely on the accuser, the episode delves into the perspective of the accused. He recounts the events leading up to an intimate encounter with Sarah, one of his colleagues. As the interview unfolds, doubts emerge, and the audience is left questioning Alex’s innocence.

The third episode of the second series is Danielle. Asking increasingly pointed questions, the team tries to crack a zealous defence put forth by the head of an online group that unmasks sexual predators. With Sharon Horgan (Bad Sisters) as Danielle who takes matters into her own hands to expose paedophiles, the interrogation unfolds, and the audience is drawn into Danielle’s world, where morality blurs, and personal vendettas collide with the law. Known for her comedic roles, Horgan surprises with her portrayal of Danielle. Her nuanced expressions and unwavering conviction keep viewers hooked.

Criminal: UK

The fourth and final episode is Sandeep with Kunal Nayyar (Big Bang Theory) as Sandeep Singh, a man with secrets to trade.  He claims to have valuable information, but his motives remain murky. As the detectives probe deeper, they realize Sandeep’s manipulative tactics are far from straightforward. Just when you think you’ve figured it out, the plot takes unexpected turns. The revelation at the end ties everything together brilliantly.

Criminal: UK

The team of officers, portrayed by a talented ensemble, contribute to the intense cat-and-mouse drama that defines Criminal: UK. Katherine Kelly (Coronation Street, Mr Selfridge, Class), is Detective Chief Inspector Natalie Hobbs, the head of the special interrogative unit. Lee Ingleby plays Detective Inspector Tony Myerscough (Soldier, Soldier), Natalie's second-in-command and often the voice of reason, who nurses a secret crush on her. Mark Stanley (Happy Valley) is Detective Constable Hugo Duffy, a talented but inexperienced interrogator with a hidden alcohol addiction. Rochenda Sandall (Doctor Who, Hijack) plays Detective Constable Vanessa Warren, an unambitious member of the team who prefers supporting background roles, as opposed to leading interviews. Shubham Saraf (A Suitable Boy) is Detective Constable Kyle Petit, the junior-most member of the unit, ostensibly hired for a secret training programme. Nicholas Pinnock as Detective Inspector Paul Ottager (Django), is a former member of the unit (and brief sexual partner of Natalie) who has now returned with a new rank. Aymen Hamdouchi is Detective Sergeant Jamie Reiss (The Night Manager), is a new member of the unit in series 2, hired to replace Paul after his offscreen departure at the end of series 1.

A must-watch for crime drama enthusiasts, it’s a departure from the norm, offering a riveting exploration of the human psyche under pressure. Whether you’re a seasoned detective drama fan or a newcomer, this series delivers a compelling and intense experience and is highly recommended.

Published on April 11th, 2024. Written by Marc Saul for Television Heaven.

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