Last Night’s TV – Murderland

by Lynn Connolly


I wonder if Robbie Coltrane has the human capacity for failure? If he does, it’s never been evident on-screen, and his performance for ITV’s Murderland last night was no exception.

Although playing a detective rather than the wily I-can-read-your-thoughts psychologist he was in Cracker, in David Pirie’s Murderland, it’s somewhat inevitable that Robbie’s familiar Scottish brogue and the elements of Fitz’s anti-establishmentarianism would traverse to this new role, but it was no detriment to the part at all.

Coltrane’s role as DI Hain was utterly credible, and his empathy for the victim of the murder he was investigating was almost palpable. As was the depth of feeling he had towards the victim’s daughter, vividly portrayed – as the younger version of Carrie – by Bel Powley. She’s obviously a very talented young woman and I’m sure we’ll be seeing a great deal more of her in future.

Carrie’s adult role was equally persuasively played by Amanda Hale and as the timeline shifted to and fro from 1994 to 2009, I had no trouble accepting Powley and Hale as one and the same person.

Both actresses depicted the haunted sorrow of a child who found her murdered mother and who, in the transition from child to adult, continues to inhabit the mind state that psychologists have termed ‘murderland’. This equates to an all-enveloping unresolved anger and abject terror that nobody was, or will ever be, convicted of the crime that took Carrie’s mother from her.

So much so in fact that Carrie began to suspect that DI Hain was the murderer, and who knows, maybe he is. Perhaps it’s not just her obsession about solving the murder that leads her to think that way. Especially given that the patina of the picture that Pirie’s writing creates for his characters means that damn near every male in the episode has a shiftiness that could easily be malevolence in the right circumstances.

But in the next part, we’ll see the investigation from Hain’s perspective and in the final episode, we’ll see if from the victim’s, so of course then, the murderer will be revealed. And we’ll have answers to the questions that this first outing asked, such as who was the man taking the photo at the bus stop and why was he doing so? And to whom do the trainers we on the stairs belong? And is DI Hain who he seems to be or is he someone far darker?

I can’t wait to find out!

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.