The Pembrokeshire Murders is a new three-part series about convicted murderer John William Cooper (Keith Allen – Marcella Series 2), who’s potentially on the verge of being released after ten years in jail, having originally been sentence for 14 years in 1998 for a number of robbery and burglary offences. However, other unsolved murders come into the frame which have similarities in terms of the robbery aspect and DCS Steve Wilkins (Luke Evans – The Hobbit Trilogy) sets up Operation Ottawa with his team, in order to reinvestigate the cases. Given that this runs from 2006-2011, and they’re looking into cold cases, and with forensic evidence being more widespread in these times, they need to find the evidence which will link Cooper to these murders before he gets out, albeit with a limited forensic budget.
The deceased include the ‘Coastal Path Murders’ of Peter and Gwenda Dixon, on 26th June 1989 amongst others, but when the time comes for an interview with Cooper, if he is guilty, he’s unlikely to spill the beans on himself.
Also brought into the mix are Cooper’s wife, Pat (Caroline Berry), who’s visited John every week since he went into prison, but is hardly looking forward to him returning; and their son, Andrew (Oliver Ryan – The Accident), whose birth name is Adrian, but for reasons he won’t go into readily, he wanted to change that name given to him by his parents.
As an aside, before he sets off for work, he does some washing up (because he’s a neat freak) and puts the tea towel the on side of the kitchen worktop, rather than hanging it up where it’s easier to dry.
At another point, his daughter tells him she’s “late for the cinema”. Remember cinemas, eh? Well, I got to see Tenet and The Eight Hundred in 2020, but that was pretty much it.
Plus, when the female DI, Ella Richards (Alexandria Riley) Operation Ottawa, by telling everyone on the case not to talk about it to their friends and relatives, thus, “The first rule of Operation Ottawa is – you do not talk about Operation Ottawa… The second rule is…” (yes, it’s a Fight Club reference), that was quite amusing.
On the plus side, The Pembrokeshire Murders is a swift three-parter compared to some dramas which drone on and on and on, and there’s many great shots of the coastal scenery. On the downside, Luke Evans is a very bland actor, and Keith Allen just never comes across as a menacing character. Maybe I’ve just seen him in too many jokey things over the years such as The Comic Strip, but here, he looks less like an evil man, and more like someone who’s a bit cheesed off to be asked questions by the cops.
That said, despite the short series, there’s also time for side-plots such as Steve going to his son’s school football match, who’s working his way up the local leagues, as well as taking in the relationship between the media and the police.
Overall, The Pembrokeshire Murders is certainly worth a watch, albeit not something I’d watch more than once.
Oddly, there’s no trailer I can embed on here, but instead, here’s a link to ITV’s site.
The Pembrokeshire Murders is on ITV from tonight at 9pm, and is shown over threeconsecutive nights. It is available to pre-order on DVD, ahead of its release on January 18th.
Also available is the Paperback book on which this drama is based by Steve Wilkins and Jonathan Hill.
After broadcast, each episode will be on the ITV Hub.
Series Score: 7/10
Director: Marc Evans
Producer: Ed Talfan
Screenplay: Nick Stevens
Novel: Jonathan Hill, Steve Wilkins
Music: Carly Paradis
DCS Steve Wilkins: Luke Evans
John Cooper: Keith Allen
Pat Cooper: Caroline Berry
Andrew Cooper: Oliver Ryan
DI Ella Richards: Alexandria Riley
DS Gareth Rees: Charles Dale
Jonathan Hill: David Fynn
DI Lynne Harries: Steven Meo
DS Glyn Johnson: Richard Corgan
DC Nigel Rowe: Kyle Lima
DCI George Jones: William Thomas
Angela Gallop: Anastasia Hille
Chief Constable Tyler: Suzanna Packer
DCS Coles: Rhodri Evan
DCI Jim Morris: Roger Evans
Jack Wilkins: Steffan Cennyd
Amy Wilkins: Mabli Jen Eustace
Huntsman Detective: Vern Griffiths
Craig: Simon Nehan
Prison Governor: Hywel Morgan
Parole Board Judge: Francine Morgan
Parole Board Member 1: Joanna Van Kampen
Parole Board Member 2: Andrew Macbean
Benefits Officer: Terema Wainwright
Gerard Elias: Owen Teale
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.