Photograph: BBC
Rating 7.4
Streamer BBC iPlayer
Seasons 2
Episodes 12 x 60 mins

It seems as though every winter there is one big drama that becomes the runaway hit of that year, becoming the most talked about telly at the school gates, with loads of articles containing critical discussion of its plots, and award nominations topped off with wins rolling in en masse. Last winter it was The Undoing, this year it was Mare of Easttown…but now we’re asking you to cast your mind back to 2014 – the year of The Missing.

You remember the one – James Nesbitt plays Tony Hughes, and he and his wife are on holiday in France when their little boy goes missing, and then they spend years trying to unravel the mystery and find their son with the help of the retired French detective, Julien Baptiste (Tchéky Karyo). Well, in this spin-off/sequel, we’ve ditched Nesbitt’s character and we’re focusing on the captivating Baptiste, who leads this dark drama series. Having been given the all-clear from the doctor after a brain tumour, Baptiste is back at it again, unable to resist the temptation of crime solving, despite his supposed retirement. In season one, we’ve got the stressed-out Englishman, Stratton, asking him to help find his missing niece, a sex worker who disappeared, with likely suspects involved with a Romanian criminal gang.

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And there we launch into another unrelentingly grim and gruesome series of Scandi-noir drama, with much of the same in season two, where Baptiste helps Fiona Shaw’s stern faced diplomat, Emma Chambers, find her husband and two sons, with Shaw giving a stellar performance, reminiscent of her character in Killing Eve.

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Both seasons of this series are thoroughly enjoyable, with Karyo’s character as captivating as in the original series which inspired this spin-off. Despite the bleak premise, his charm and determination lifts the show, acting as the Sherlock Holmes of the series. The storylines, too, are just the right amount of complicated, having you guessing from the beginning, but never really knowing what might be revealed next. However, as good as this is, we’re not quite sure it lives up to the brilliance of The Missing. But if you’re after a good crime drama, with big bold acting and dark plotlines, then this is definitely the show for you.

The critics gave middling reviews to season one of Baptiste, with Rebecca Nicholson of The Guardian saying “out on his own, [Baptiste] feels more like any detective at the heart of a functional crime thriller, borrowing moods from here and there, rather than the star of a standalone classic.” However Jasper Rees in The Telegraph said “the dialogue has the flavour of a graphic novel that happens to be peopled by fine actors adept at applying flesh and blood. So it’s worth sticking with.” It would appear he was right, too, as season two has had much better reviews, with The Times’s Carol Midgley saying “Shaw’s performance was pitch-perfect and Karyo has that same stillness and weighty presence that holds any scene.” And Anita Singh in the Telegraph agrees, saying “Shaw is terrific at giving us bewildered grief.”

First shown February 2019. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.

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