Grace… Det Supt Roy Grace…
John Simm plays the latest ITV detective, whose surname makes the entire title of the drama. He’s a troubled detective, like them all, but in his case, his wife went missing, six years ago on his 40th birthday, and he has no idea where she went. It still haunts him to this day, especially when the media bring it up early on, as the opening murder trial gets press attention, with the gutter press making light of his situation because he even hired a medium to help trace her whereabouts.
Dead Simple is the first of two feature-length dramas we’ll see this year, and is set in Brighton, the place where our titular DS loved and lost his wife.
Normally dealing solely with cold cases, i.e. unsolved murders, he’s meant to be assisting a small team on the case of missing bridegroom Michael Neward (Tom Weston-Jones), albeit just in an advisory capacity. However, as he’s the lead character, he’ll be in the majority of this, so basically works full time on it, much to the annoyance of shouty boss ACC Alison Vosper (Rakie Ayola), who just add to a line of characters with the collective gravitas and weight of helium.
Mark Warden (Matt Stokoe) was going to be Michael’s best man before his wedding, but since the main men went missing, and the coach full of other revellers on the stag night was involved in a car crash, with not everyone making it out alive, you’d expect the plot to thicken, since Mark is basically the sole survivor on account of his flight being delayed.
As the drama went on, we learned what had happened to Michael, but even though I’m posting this review after it’s aired, I’m going to avoid major spoilers about where he’s ended up because a lot of people still watch it on catch-up. All I will say is that he hasn’t been bumped off, but instead, is in rather a predicament.
As in his other cases, Grace even goes to his medium for help with the investigation, giving him something belonging to Michael. Will he be a help or a hinderance? Well, if it’s worked for him in an earlier murder investigation, why won’t it now? And out of all of those who are still around, from Mark to Michael’s fiancée, Ashley (Alisha Bailey), who knows what and, if so, how much?
I watched this on a preview without subtitles – and there’s a lot of mumbling in the cast – but then the way this first Grace plays out is one which uses some old tropes and plot devices we’ve seen many times before. I should’ve had my ‘drama bingo’ card ready to play, beforehand.
Overall, Grace is just about watchable for John Simm, but if he wasn’t involved, I wouldn’t still be watching the second case when it airs later this year.
Grace: Dead Simple is now available on the ITV Hub, but isn’t yet available to buy on Blu-ray or DVD.
Director: John Alexander
Writers: Peter James, Russell Lewis
Det Supt Roy Grace: John Simm
DS Glenn Branson: Richie Campbell
Joe Tindall: William Andrews
ACC Alison Vosper: Rakie Ayola
Ashley Haynes: Alisha Bailey
Francine: Catherine Bailey
Davey Marshbrook: Cian Binchy
Phil Marshbrook: Rupert Holliday-Evans
WPC Danni Brown: Katie Brayben
DC Emma Jane Boutwood: Amaka Okafor
Richard Charwell QC: Silas Carson
Kevin Spinella: Alexander Cobb
Willa: Natasha Joseph
Zoe Sayed: Tiana Khan
Josh Sayed: Akshay Khanna
DC Nick Nicholl: Brad Morrison
Vic: Diarmaid Murtagh
Paul: Paul O’Kelly
Gill Neward: Maggie O’Neill
Michael Neward: Tom Weston-Jones
Mark Warden: Matt Stokoe
DS Bella Moy: Laura Elphinstone
Janie Stretton: Kristy Philipps
Harry Frame: Adrian Rawlins
Reggie De’ath: Owen Roberts
Ari Branson: Rebecca Scroggs
Luke Jones: Charlie Suff
Sean Stourton: Tim Treloar
Robbo: Matt Wakeford
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.