The Long Call may sound like your typical murder mystery, but the four-part series based on Ann Cleves’ novel of the same name, draws on some much more insightful themes than we’re used to seeing.
ITV’s latest primetime drama set in the heart of Devon offers up gorgeous coastal scenery, check, a fabulous emerging detective duo, check, and lots of suspicious faces, triple check.
Yes, it does have an essence of Broadchurch about it. Add in the above with a body found on the beach in the first 10 minutes and it’s enough to make you think Olivia Colman might pop up at some point.
But that’s probably where the similarities end, as this is a truly gripping first instalment and there’s lots more to get your teeth into yet.
In episode one, we follow DI Matthew Venn (Ben Aldridge), who’s recently moved back to his former community in North Devon with his husband Jonathan (Declan Bennett) after being rejected by his family due to his sexuality 20 years ago.
We start at the aftermath of his father’s funeral, where it becomes clear there’s no love lost between himself and his mother Dorothy (played by the incredible Juliet Stevenson) as he finds out it was primarily her doing resulting in him having to leave his community behind – but that’s the least of his problems.
When the body of loner Simon Walden (Luke Ireland) is found with a single stab wound a no explanation, we’re swiftly given the first hints of our suspects. Normal People’s Aoife Hinds does a good job of raising our suspicions as artist Gaby, when it becomes clear she has an unusual relationship with the deceased she’s not been entirely honest about.
Elsewhere, we’ve also got our eyes firmly on Neil Morrisey, who plays Christopher Reasley, the father of Bryony (Jenny Platt), a social worker who took Simon in when he fell into hard times. But when we find more about Simon’s past, it’s clear why he took an instant disliking to the troubled chef.
The viewer is cleverly given a level of intrigue around the motives and backstory of all involved in the drama which trickle in throughout the first episode. It, therefore, gives all the characters the opportunity to develop beyond being left on the sidelines for the rest of the week.
There’s also much to learn about DS Jenn Rafferty (Pearl Mackie), Matthew’s partner in crime who’s recently escaped an abusive relationship in London. We see her indulge in an apparent one-night-stand with someone she seems to already recognise very well, but just who is the mystery man?
It’s also lovely to see that – at least so far – Matthew’s marriage seems to be the most warming thing about this drama after director Lee Haven Jones spoke to The Telegraph of the importance of casting a gay actor in the part, which saw him land on Fleabag star Ben.
We’re so used to seeing the ‘detectives with fractured marriages’ stereotype played out over and over again, so it’s particularly refreshing that there’s no sign of this in what Lee reminds us is a drama about ‘prime time’s first gay detective’.
The Long Call shows this early on when it becomes clear Grace’s husband Dennis (Martin Shaw) – who is the spiritual leader of the Evangelical church in which Matthew became an outcast – seems desperate to escape his clutches but is prevented from doing so in haunting scenes right at the end of the instalment.
The first episode leaves many questions unanswered for the viewer, as we’re brought into a tight-knit community full of secrets that are sure to be uncovered as the drama unfolds. We can’t wait to get to the bottom of this one.
The Long Call continues on Tuesday at 9pm on ITV.
Credit: Original article published here.