Some pairings are nothing short of perfection. Strawberries and cream, bread and butter, a pint and a packet of crisps. Well, how about a meaty whodunnit and a dark November evening? It’s just what the doctor ordered to blow away the cobwebs and have you thinking well I suppose this autumn malarky isn’t so bad. Drumroll please for ITV’s newest murder mystery, The Long Call.
Starring Ben Aldridge, Pearl Mackie, and even the legendary Martin Shaw (any readers old enough to remember The Professionals?) the premise is simple – and sometimes that’s all we want it to be. We have a detective, a suspicious murder, and a close-knit community of conspicuous characters. It’s the recipe for a perfectly cooked prime-time drama.
So, all the usual suspects are lined up in The Long Call, including a moody country setting, an array of stunning interiors and a score so tense it will have your Fitbit telling you to take a chill pill. But there is one key twist to this series which not only sets it aside from the rest, but actually earns it a solid place in TV history. For the first time, our lead male detective is gay, a “warm, intimate and slightly shocking” revelation to The Times’ Stephen Armstrong, who points out that “gay detectives have been a staple of the small screen for a while – as long as they are female”.
In The Telegraph, Anita Singh calls the show “groundbreaking in its way” claiming that its representation of sexuality “feels a good deal more honest than the police dramas that chuck in lesbian affairs as a bit of window-dressing”. Of course, the sexuality of our lead is only one of many elements which make this series so successful. Lucy Mangan, writing for The Guardian, applauds its “good story, with [a] plot parcelled out at just the right rate”, hailing it as “a whodunnit with the promise of whydunit too”. And Ben Dowell praised the series in The Times, writing “as well as looking a bit like Broadchurch, it had that show’s main-suspect episode structure that felt reassuring if slightly stolid”.
Whilst Anita Singh laments that the lead character “has no discernible personality”, save for his beefy backstory, the narrative is more than enough to keep us hooked for the entirety of its four episodes.
First shown October 2021.