Review: Unforgotten's latest cold case cements its place as one of the best dramas around

Cop shows are ten-a-penny on TV these days, either maverick detectives with troubled home lives or rural sleuths solving slayings in pastoral beauty.

By Phil Cunnington
Friday, 26th February 2021, 5:00 pm

Which is why it felt so good to welcome back Unforgotten (ITV, Mon, 9pm) for a fourth series.

Unforgotten has all the hallmarks of your usual TV crime fare – grisly murders, shifty suspects, police lanyards – but deals with it all in a different way.

The familiar structure from previous series is still there, but within that everything is different – crime, victim and suspects.

Sanjeev Bhaskar and Nicola Walker star in ITV’s Unforgotten

This time, the headless body of a young man is found in a freezer taken to a local scrapyard from a house clearance, a freezer where the body has possibly been kept for 30 years.

Unlike most police shows, we don’t see young women murdered in inventive ways, there are no car chases, no guns. Unforgotten is all about people – about colleagues, friends, family; the relationships between them and how these can stretch, or break, or sometimes grow stronger.

At the centre of it all are DCI Cassie Stewart (Nicola Walker) and DS Sunny Khan (Sanjeev Bhaskar). And they really are the heart of Unforgotten – Cassie is off on sick leave, leading Sunny to cast wistful glances at her empty office. It’s not that he can’t cope, he just misses his mate.

And Walker is terrific as Cassie – empathetic, driven, warm, she is the best of TV detectives, in a group of two with Jane Tennison. Her face when she is told she can’t retire, that she must serve another three months to get her full pension, tells a story by itself – resignation, sadness, repressed fury.

Unforgotten is that rare show, something that is totally familiar, yet totally different. A drama to remember, in fact.

A maverick detective with a troubled home life did pop up this week, but Bloodlands (BBC1, Sun, 9pm) had a twist revolving round Northern Ireland and the Troubles. Solidly entertaining.

Blitz Spirit with Lucy Worsley (BBC1, Tues, 8.30pm) should be required viewing for all those who summon the Blitz as some sort of golden time for the British stiff upper lip. It packed a real punch.

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