Review: These competing crime dramas result in a curious case of spot the difference

Two shows turned up this week which shared a quite a few similarities. The Pact (BBC1, Mon/Tues, 9pm and iPlayer) and Innocent (ITV, Mon-Thurs, 9pm) both revolved around a dead man who hid some nasty secrets, a small group of people who may or may not have been involved in the death, and small towns in picturesque corners of the UK.

By Phil Cunnington
Friday, 21st May 2021, 5:00 pm

And the parallels didn’t end there – sulky teenage daughters, ineffectual male characters, dogged detectives and men with beards all pitched up in both series, which meant that sometimes it was a little difficult to remember which show you were watching.

The fact that neither series turned into anything particularly memorable didn’t help. Having seen all the episodes of both The Pact and Innocent, it’s safe to say they’re exactly that – safe.

Solidly written, solidly performed, nothing to startle the horses. The Pact starts with that crime thriller staple, the desperate run through a dark wood, before flashing back to ‘some weeks earlier’. It improves from a clichéd start, however, until a final twist which seems to come from nowhere.

Katherine Kelly faces a hostile press in ITV drama Innocent

Innocent, meanwhile, starts promisingly, but then gets bogged down in suspects, and the lies they tell, before another final twist which again seems a bit of a cheat.

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As undemanding viewing goes, The Pact and Innocent were the same – just okay. Let’s hope for something completely different next time.

If you want difference, look to the breakout star of series 11 of Taskmaster (C4, Thurs, 9pm), Mike Wozniak. A man in a bank manager’s brown suit who is capable of the oddest, funniest flights of fancy.

Laura Fraser and Jason Hughes starred in the new BBC drama The Pact this week

All hail Eurovision (BBC4, Tues/Thurs, 8pm) and it’s ludicrous, overblown sense of joie de vivre. The semi-finals were a laugh, and tonight’s final looks sure to be a beacon of light in this time of Covid.