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Vigil episode 1 review: Gripping nautical drama from Line of Duty creators is far from sub-standard

Suranne Jones leads the stellar cast of the new series (Picture: BBC – Getty)

*Warning contains spoilers for Vigil episode 1*

The creators of Line of Duty are back with a taut new drama, Vigil, and Sunday nights just got interesting again.

It’s set up to be the unmissable TV event of the next six weeks, with a stellar cast and expert hands behind the camera pulling the strings, and if it keeps up the inexhaustible pace of episode one then viewers will be requiring treatment for whiplash by the time it’s done.

There are more twists packed into the first five minutes of Vigil’s first episode than most dramas would attempt in an entire series. It’s audacious stuff, as the opening scene follows a fishing boat as it’s dragged to the depths of the sea, having accidentally caught a whopper and snagged their net on a submarine.

We’re then briefly introduced to Martin Compston’s submarine crew member Craig Burke as he raises the alarm – only to see him drop dead moments later in scenes that will leave Line of Duty fans spitting out their post-roast dinner cup of tea.

Step in Suranne Jones as DCI Amy Silva, who’s tasked with heading into the bowels of nuclear submarine HMS Vigil to investigate the death.

While we’re told that it was an accidental heroin overdose that finished Craig off, it’s up to her to find the truth. She quickly determines he was murdered, and sets off to prove it. Just like that, we have a murder mystery set 1,000 leagues under the sea on our hands. Like the fishing crew dragged to the sea bed, we’re well and truly hooked.

Seeing Suranne’s name attached to a new drama these days is as reassuring as a comfy pair of slippers. She leads the cast of the gripping first instalment with serene authority, with her character dealing with past trauma that leaves her vulnerable to tight spaces – what are the chances, hey?

She’s surrounded by strong performers. Game of Thrones’ Rose Leslie brings steely determination to DCI Silva’s partner and fellow copper Kirsten Longacre, who is on the hunt for answers back on dry land. Paterson Joseph of Peep Show fame is also given plenty to sink his teeth into as sinister submarine commander Newsome.

Martin Compston takes on his biggest role since playing DCI Steve Arnott in Line of Duty series six (Picture: BBC)

As you’d expect from a drama set on a submarine, the unique setting helps ramp up the tension and sense of unease. Despite it being ‘as long as two football pitches and as tall as four double deckers’ the show manages to make HMS Vigil feel intoxicatingly claustrophobic and packed with an eerie atmosphere. While comparisons with 1981 war epic Das Boot are inevitable, the dingy corridors are more reminiscent of the interiors of the space tug Nostromo from Alien– never a bad thing.

It might be tense, even uncomfortable at times to spend time with DCI Silva onboard, but it’s a testament to the achievements of those involved that we’re counting down the hours until we can do it all over again.

The verdict:

The first two episodes fly by without wasting a second, with strong performances all round and quality at every turn. We can’t wait to be dragged down to its murky depths all over again next week.

Vigil continues on Monday at 9pm on BBC One.

Credit: Original article published here.

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