We’ve seen Martin Clunes do comedy. We’ve seen him do drama. We’ve seen him do a combination of both. Now, it’s time to see Martin Clunes in a proper modern British Crime Drama (he’s done period crime in the past in Arthur & George). Clunes recently starred in Manhunt, an ITV production in the UK – and it was their biggest drama hit since 2013. It was a smash hit in Britain, and now it’s come to the USA exclusively on Acorn TV. We spent last night watching the whole series and loved it.
Manhunt is based on the true story of the hunt for the killer of several women in London in the early 2000s. It’s based on the memoirs of the lead Metropolitan Police Detective on the case, DCI Colin Sutton, who also participated in the production of the show. Written by Ed Whitmore (Silent Witness, Strike Back) and directed by Marc Evans (Trauma, Safe House, Hinterland), Manhunt is the real-life story of how the murder of French National, Amelie Delagrange, on Twickenham Green in August 2004 was eventually linked to two other murders. Hard working and instinctive, DCI Sutton was assigned to the case and dedicated himself to finding Amelie’s killer. With no forensics, motive or witnesses, his painstaking approach and the diligence of his fellow officers gradually led to breakthroughs in the case.
This is a different type of crime drama. It’s very much rooted in reality and shows the hard graft needed to solve a crime on this scale – along with all the avenues that detectives have to go down (some which are dead ends). It’s not a simple case involving two detectives like on Endeavour or Midsomer Murders where a couple of blokes can just solve the crime. This is a massive operation with Sutton’s character at the center trying to put it all together.
The entire story takes place in 2004, which I found a bit odd. I don’t remember hearing about these murders in 2004, and I like to think I was pretty clued into British current events back then. But then again, I was a struggling college student so had other things on my mind. But it is a bit strange thinking of this is a period drama. Makes me feel really old (I am 35, I am not old). I found the lack of smartphones amusing. I can only imagine how the case would have played out differently if there had been smartphones.
The series is short – only three 45 minute long episodes. You can comfortably binge it in an evening, and it’s a bit like watching a long movie with intermissions. The show does not waste any time (in the show and also your time). There’s no need to stretch this out for 6 or 10 episodes like with a show like Broadchurch (another ITV crime hit). When we started it, we intended to only watch one episode and go to bed but ended up staying up late to binge the whole thing at once; we couldn’t stop watching.
What I really liked about the show was the sensitivity they took in the story and the production. This is all a true story – the victims were real, with real families (and the detectives are real too). Watching this, though, you never feel like their memories are being exploited or sensationalized for entertainment purposes. I especially liked the attention they gave to Amelie’s French family. It was also really interesting to see how important CCTV (security cameras) was to the investigation and how much more important it is now that there are cameras everywhere. CCTV isn’t as prevalent here in the USA, but that’s changing.
Martin Clunes is fantastic. This role really shows his range. I’m so used to seeing him at the grumpy and acerbic Doc Martin; it’s fun to watch him go deep into such a different role. This role combined with his return to Britcoms with Warren shows that he is so much more than Doc Martin. Makes we want to watch Arthur & George where he plays Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, which I have not seen (it’s streaming on Amazon Prime Video). Claudie Blakley also stars as his long-suffering wife; she’s fantastic (you may remember her as Lizzie’s friend from the 2005 Pride & Prejudice).
So, if you want to watch a great British crime drama, rooted in true events and see Clunes in a completely different environment – then watch this new drama on AcornTV as soon as possible!