*Warning: Contains minor spoilers for episode one of Showtrial*
The makers of Line of Duty can’t put a foot wrong at the minute, can they?
The team behind the show at World Productions have been on fire, bringing us series six earlier this year, as well as The Pembrokeshire Murders, Vigil and now Showtrial, a gripping new series with far more to say than your average Sunday night legal drama.
Episode one begins as a female student is reported missing. It’s not long before the maddeningly brattish daughter of a wealthy property developer, Talitha Campbell (Céline Buckens), is held under suspicion after unexpected ties to the suspected victim are revealed.
When duty defence lawyer Cleo Roberts (Tracy Ifeachor) takes on the case, she finds herself at the heart of the mystery. The conflict at the heart of the drama sees her pushed and pulled by exterior forces, as her duty to see justice served is threatened by the power and influence of Talitha’s family.
The series is concerned primarily with the impact politics and wealth can have on the legal system, and begins to explore in episode one just how exterior motives and ingrained prejudices can impact our fundamental understanding and execution of justice.
We’re sure there’s more of that to come, but the biggest strength of the first instalment is as a compelling character piece, brilliantly played by its two lead stars Céline and Tracy.
Tracy provides a steely, but calming presence to an escalating situation as Cleo – having been informed by a wealth of ‘tough’ preparation ahead of the series, which saw her observe the reading of real life cases in court. It’s Céline, though, who leads with an incendiary turn as the ineffably dislikeable Talitha, which manages to bring both vileness and vulnerability to an endlessly pampered character.
In less capable hands, the role of the posh hedonist could easily come across as a slightly clumsy cliche.
However there’s a palpable nastiness to the way she goads police officers with jewellery ‘worth more than they make in their entire careers’ – and the way she breaks down and holds her fingers to her ears after being arrested on suspicion of murder offers a tantalising glimpse of the terrified child behind the otherwise bulletproof facade.
It’s a potentially star-making performance, and one of the finest from a young actor we’ve seen in 2021. A real gem, capable of leading any series.
It’s the highlight of a first episode which promises a great deal. By this point, it seems the makers of Line of Duty can do no wrong. The verdict on their intriguing legal thriller is in, and it’s another triumph.
Showtrial continues on Sunday at 9pm on BBC One. The episodes are also available to watch on BBC iPlayer.
Credit: Original article published here.