Cold Blood, ITV1

by | Mar 5, 2007 | All, Reviews

Did we like it?

A well-acted, complex thriller diminished by gaps in the plot so large they could be introduced on to the M25 as a traffic-calming measure.

What was good about it?

• The evident focus in the acting stakes is on Matthew Kelly’s transformation from the cheeriest, second cheesiest (after Dale Winton) entertainer on television into a merciless, calculating serial killer. A metamorphosis not seen on this scale since Gregor Samsa turned into an insect, and one that he largely pulls off.

• When given the chance to breathe as Brian Wicklow, especially in the scenes with the excellent Jemma Redgrave as DS Eve Granger, he exuded a real sense of repressed menace. And what’s more his rubbery face is perfect as a vent from which to pour out facial scorn, perhaps it’s been stored up within him in huge mental vats after years of being forced to put a positive spin on so many dreadful doppelgangers on Stars in Their Eyes.

• Kelly also managed to instil in the ogrish Wicklow a glimmer of humorous charisma. Brian’s excuse for going into the cell where Jeff Eggers, was killed was to search for his pen with he wrote unnerving letters to Eve. Eve: “We’ve found your pen. Someone pushed the pen through Jeff Eggers’ nose and into his brain.” “Oh, it still works then,” Brian replied tartly.

• The twisting psychological thrust and counter-thrust as the police investigation seemed to pander to what Brian, a man locked safely in a maximum security prison, might do if he found out that Jake (John Hannah) was responsible for helping the police locate the body of a girl – the one thing that made his life behind bars bearable.

• At times the forces of ‘good’ headed by DCI Bob Massam and Jake were shadowboxing with Brian from the confines of his cell, and the internee was running rings around them.

• The moment when Jake realises that the whole plot may have been orchestrated by Brian to discover who let the cat out of the bag on where the little girl’s body was buried. And that his estranged son – who thinks his father died in a car crash – could be the target of Brian’s revenge.

What was bad about it?

• When given free rein to play Brian, Matthew Kelly performed admirably but there were at least five occasions when Brian had to turn to the camera and put on an expression of sinister malice. The worst was after the incident at the start when the effect was made laughable by the blood around his mouth making him look like an earnest Robert Smith acting too hard at being intense and angst-ridden in an early Cure video (namely Charlotte Sometimes).

• While the setting for the drama was some anonymous metropolis, as the action wore on we began to suspect it may actually be taking place in a giant mental institution as a preponderate number of characters suffered from hallucinations such as Jake, Eve, Brian, Brian’s sister Barbara and Brian’s criminal stooge Colin.

• Although Brian’s Machiavellian plan to wreak revenge on his abusive sister seemed well planned, it relied on that dramatic staple of all thrillers to succeed – police incompetence. After being wounded by Brian as part of their plot, Colin who was in jail for murder was moved to a hospital outside the prison.

• Yet with only injuries to his nose he was left with only a dozing single police officer as a guard and a conveniently-placed fire extinguisher nearby just large enough to knock said police officer unconscious. And then someone visiting the hospital was good enough to leave their car unlocked; and when he dumped the car in a car park, someone in that car park was good enough to leave their van unlocked.

• The sub-plots of Jake’s son and DCI Massum’s hatred of Jake for killing his police officer godson were largely irrelevant. However, with more episodes to come perhaps they were just markers for the future but whether anyone will remember such minor details in a year’s time is questionable.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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