Fresh from the pen of respected writer Chris Lang (Unforgiven, Dark Heart) comes a new crime thriller that fits into ITV’s schedule just as comfortably as Ant and Dec at the NTA’s. Innocent is a tense new four-part crime drama that Lang has co-written with writer Matthew Aldridge. ITV have made the decision to ‘strip’ their latest drama (an industry term for showing all episodes on consecutive nights) from Monday to Thursday a decision that may proof smart as it’s a show that seems suited to the ‘binge’ culture. It’s a twist on the traditional whodunnit fronted by an impressive cast of familiar faces.
After seven years in prison for the murder of his wife Tara, David Collins (Lee Ingleby) gets freed on the technicality of a third trial falling through. In another programme with another title there would be an interesting story to tell of someone coping with life out of the cell and while it’s touched upon in places, the story being told here is of the broken relationships Tara’s death has had on himself, his friends and family in the years since.
David’s children are now being looked after by his wife’s sister Alice (Hemione Norris) who understandably hates his guts and will fight heaven and hell to keep them from their father. David’s brother Phil (Daniel Ryan) has supported him through everything but his loyalty could have consequences. Not forgetting there’s also an old friend who seems to be hiding big secrets and it all adds up to a big brain frazzle of agendas and mistrust. Completing the strong cast list is Nigel Lindsay who plays DCI William Beech, a man who now doubts the conviction from seven years ago, and Angel Coulby as Cathy Hudson, a DI who tries injecting fresh blood into an old case.
With regard to Ingleby’s portrayal of David, he shows a complete faith in his own innocence but soon enough his erratic behaviour will put doubts into the viewer’s minds. He’s not likeable but nor is he a hate figure. He is written between the two in order to keep the mystery. It’s hinted that by law he can’t face another retrial so that’s a sense of freedom that David might roam too wildly in. What is the consequence now if we find out he did murder Tara? Will he get away with it? Will he get his kids back? If he really is innocent, what will the moral of the story be?
Then there’s a very frantic Hermione Norris who lost her sister but gained her family when she took her two children, now teenagers under her wing. Lang cleverly weaving in the idea that Alice stood to gain from her sister’s death as she and her husband were unable to have a family of their own and that her that brutal murder gave Alice a ‘ready-made family’. 15-year-old Jack is understandably angry with his father and feels conflicted when he hears of his release whereas 12-year-old Rosie is terrified her father, who now lives fifteen minutes away, can just come and take her back ripping her away from the only home she has ever really known.
The suspicions will be initially on Lee Ingelby’s David Collins as the man convicted of his murder and his various encounters in this first episode make for some intriguing viewing but it seems, much like in Lang’s other ITV hit Unforgotten that every character has a story here and that all of the key players we meet here could be responsible for the crime that put David away.
The pacing in this first episode is quick and it sets the stage for what promises to be a compelling thriller. There’s lots of elements of Nordic Noir with lots of sweeping shots of rugged landscapes. It has a tried and tested formula to proceedings but the writing here from Chris Lang, and later on from Matthew Aldridge looks set to elevate it beyond the norm and it’s definitely going to be worth four hours of your life.
Innocent Starts Monday 14th May at 9.00pm on ITV.