Showtrial is another of those dramas billed as coming from the makers of Line of Duty – or, at least, the production company in this case. Vigil was the same. Thanks sank like a stone (ho, ho, ho), but they’re still dominating the 9pm Sunday slot.
As it opens, and set in Bristol, we see young woman Hannah Ellis (Abra Thompson) at the fun fair, smooching with another individual who I won’t reveal here. Two days later, and we find that she no longer can be, because she’s gone missing, and she’s left her phone behind – something the yoof of today never do.
Another young woman, Talitha Campbell (Celine Buckens, above) is arrested because they think she has something to do with it. She’s a particularly full of herself individual, who comes across as particularly unlikeable, which isn’t a good thing to have when you’ve just been arrested. But the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree because her Dad is Sir Damian Campbell (James Frain), a knighted property developer who even bulldozed a children’s home “with the children still in it”, she declares with a wry smile.
In fact, no-one’s particularly likeable in this, including grumpy cops DI Paula Cassidy (Sinead Keenan – Three Families) and DC Andy Lowell (Christopher Hatherall), and while we haven’t seen too much so far of Environment Minister Meera Harwood MP (Lolita Chakrabarti), very few politicians are likeable, largely because they never have our best interests at heart, while they claim the opposite.
The more Showtrial‘s opener went on, the less I was feeling it. And before this has even aired, all five episodes are scheduled up on the iPlayer, and the brief descriptions of each episode do look rather spoilerish in their billing, so if you do stick with this, try to avoid reading any of that content in advance.
I’m guessing all five episodes will be online after the first one airs, but I can’t say, at this stage, that I’m particularly fussed whether she’s innocent or guilty. All of the direction, writing and acting just feels so leaden. It feels like one of those scripts where it throws up a number of flags, trying to push you in the direction one way or another of either thinking the accused is guilty or not guilty, but quite often in dramas, these could just be false flags pushing you in the wrong direction. It’s an old trope, and it turns out in the end to be Professor Plum in the library with the candlestick… (that’s a joke).
It’s another of those crime dramas, like last week’s The Long Call, with a weird way of directing, as again, we have one of those directors that likes to film two people talking to each other, one looking to the left of the screen while they’re sat on the extreme left, and the respondant on the right of the screen while they’re sat on the extreme right. Meanwhile, the camera image shuffled around all over the place as if the cameraman is standing on a bowling ball that’s particularly unsteady. Jeez, doesn’t anyone know how to just point a camera and shoot any more?
Showtrial begins tonight on BBC1 at 9pm, and runs for five weeks. It’s not yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD.
After broadcast, each episode will be on the BBC iPlayer.
Episode 1: 2/10
Director: Zara Hayes
Producer: Christopher Hall
Writer: Ben Richards
Talitha Campbell: Celine Buckens
Cleo Roberts: Tracy Ifeachor
DI Paula Cassidy: Sinead Keenan
DC Andy Lowell: Christopher Hatherall
Sir Damian Campbell: James Frain
James Thornley: Kerr Logan
Dhillon Harwood; Joseph Payne
Virginia Hoult: Sharon D Clarke
Meera Harwood: Lolita Chakrabarti
Hannah Ellis: Abra Thompson
Emma Hemmings: Lu Corfield
Nisha Baria: Rebecca Grant
Adam Reynolds: Sam Hoare
Court Clerk: Dan Winter
Mrs Plain: Kerri Hedley-Cheney
Andrea Ellis: Claire Lams
Meera Harwood: Lolita Chakrabarti
DC Mackenzie: Jessica Alade
Laura Thornley: Jenny Rainsford
Troy Manners: Angus Castle-Doughty
Heidi McKinnon: Amy Morgan
Seb Harding: Tom Andrews
Amanda Wilkinson: Mika Simmons
Brian Reeves: Rupert Holliday Evans
Custody Sergeant: Mark Pettitt
PC Cutts: Emer Heatley
Reporter: Jon Monie
Cabbie: Mark Freestone
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.