Image: BBC / HTM Televison / iStock/ Steffan Hill
Rating 6.9
Streamer BBC iPlayer
Seasons 1
Episodes 4 x 60 mins

The BBC are taking us to Troubles-torn Ireland in this coppers vs crime series. And what’s a police thriller without a tortured main man?

Ticking that box in Bloodlands is James Nesbitt’s Tom Brannick, whose inner turmoil comes in the form of a missing-presumed-dead wife. Further cashing in on the cop show clichés, he’s given a case he reckons is linked to a previous cold case, which – you guessed it – involved his mysteriously vanished wife. Now he’s stomping about on a testosterone fuelled quest to crack the case.

Yes, we’ve seen this type of show before, and James Nesbitt was ripe for the picking when it came to selecting an actor to play the lead – this gig is right up his moody-and-middle-aged street.

But despite all this obviousness, Bloodlands is still worth a watch. Made by the team responsible for Line of Duty, this series is made interesting by being set in Ireland during the Troubles, amidst police misdoings, deep resentments and the Good Friday Agreement. Is it as good as the team’s other smash hit show? No, probably not. But the good thing is, instead of Line of Duty’s five seasons, this is just four episodes. Something to tide you over until they come out with season six, then.

The critics liked this one, with the Independent’s Ed Cumming saying 1990s Ireland is a “natural background for a tortuous crime thriller,” with “Brannick an anguished, unforced humanity, a decent man driven to distraction.” He says “Nesbitt eases into the role like a favourite coat.” Lucy Mangan in The Guardian says “Bloodlands is shaping up to be a fine addition to the growing genre of Irish noir, which draws power from its concentration on place as well as plot.” And The Times’s Carol Midgley agrees, agreeing with us that it is sometimes “predictable,” but admitting the show is “promising.”

First shown February 2021. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.

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