There are three things we, as a nation, love and adore: bank holiday weekends, multilayered murder mysteries being solved by someone who keeps having flashbacks to that one time they had trauma, そして Suranne Jones being class. The BBC knows this, which is why it’s putting out the first two episodes of Vigil (日曜日 29 and Monday 30 8月, 9午後, BBC One) – a multilayered murder mystery featuring Suranne Jones being class – on this, the woozy long weekend that heralds the end of summer. Put the grill away and apply aloe to that welt of sunburn: Suranne is here, and – what’s that? Drop to knees, inspect ground, shine torch on ill-lit corner. Yep, just as I thought: that’s blood. Captain, this just became a murder investigation.
To HMS Vigil, その後, a fictional vanguard submarine patrolling the cool Scottish waters west of Glasgow, and one loaded with enough nuclear firepower to “kill everyone”. Only one person is dead for now, でも, and that’s why Suranne is here, to investigate how a crew member died on duty. The only catch is: if we turn off nuclear submarines for even one second Russia will have a field day, so she has to be winched in via helicopter and floated out on a raft once she’s discovered the killer. We have just been thrust into a spiky little chess game: the calm logic of the police versus the immovable hierarchy of the navy; the temptation of doing the investigation by the book versus the irresistible lure of the truth. There’s the ego of the second-in-command to think about, and the brainless order-following of the dead man’s cabin mates. On the shore? Crusties shouting about warheads.
It is a heady mix, the police procedural set against the backdrop of possible nuclear war, and done wrongly it could be way too much, but Vigil is, top to bottom, very right: written by Tom Edge, who did the expectation-defying romantic sitcom Lovesick (AKA Scrotal Recall) and the Oscar-winning Judy; produced by Sunday night behemoths World Productions, which brought us Bodyguard and Line of Duty; and featuring the aforementioned Suranne Jones, Rose Leslie, Martin Compston, Peep Show’s Paterson Joseph, Connor Swindells from Sex Education and literally everyone who didn’t get a film deal after being in Game of Thrones. It looks beautiful, あまりにも.
It’s still a police procedural, so there are some good old-fashioned tropey beats: Suranne must remember The Accident whenever she looks moodily over a body of water; whenever they drive somewhere there’s a really nice drone shot showing how remote it is; there’s a guy in the office who is always eating a single slice of pizza at midnight while standing up, and a Scottish man saying “murder” with thrilling gravity.
だが, otherwise, this is “gasping at Sunday night TV” at its very best, and if you don’t watch it live, you will have it spoiled for you by Gogglebox every week until the clocks go back. Do you want that? Or do you want to get all your turtlenecks down from the attic and watch five weeks of Suranne Jones being class? Welcome to HMS Vigil, detective. Someone is dead, someone is angry about that, nothing is as it seems. Autumn is here. Gorgeous, murdery autumn.