Critics pan James Nesbitt's Suspect Channel 4 detective drama

·TV Reporter, Yahoo Entertainment UK
·3-min read
James Nesbitt plays the lead role as detective Danny Frater. (Channel 4)
James Nesbitt plays the lead role as detective Danny Frater. (Channel 4)

James Nesbitt launched yet another detective drama on Sunday with Channel 4's Suspect, seemingly having been typecast in the role of troubled cop.

Recent years have seen the Cold Feet star take on similar parts in Bloodlands, Line Of Duty, Stay Close and Lucky Man, but in this latest iteration he leads an adaptation of a Danish series.

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Nesbitt plays Danny Frater, a detective who attends what he expects to be a routine call to the mortuary about an unidentified body, but finds his own estranged daughter Christina lying on the slab.

An all-star cast is lead by James Nesbitt. (Channel 4)
An all-star cast is lead by James Nesbitt. (Channel 4)

Starring opposite Joely Richardson as the pathologist, Nesbitt features with a different suspect or cast member in each half-hour episode, with names including Anne-Marie Duff and Richard E. Grant, as he tries to discover what happened to his daughter.

Critics have panned the drama's clunky script, the strangely anonymous feel of the setting, the bleak subject and Nesbitt playing the same character yet again - here's what they had to say.

The Telegraph - 2 stars

Joely Richardson stars as pathologist Jackie. (Channel 4)
Joely Richardson stars as pathologist Jackie. (Channel 4)

"James Nesbitt plays a detective – his fourth in the space of a year, by my reckoning – in Suspect, and what an odd little drama it is. It is adapted from a Danish series and directed by a Belgian, and instead of feeling like a British show (because, surely, that is what Channel 4 is here to provide) it feels distinctly European. In the opener, Nesbitt and Joely Richardson deliver their lines as if they’re getting to grips with a foreign language..."

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"Each episode will introduce a new suspect, and the cast has some decent names, including Anne-Marie Duff and Richard E Grant. Perhaps one of them could lift the material, but neither Nesbitt nor Richardson could manage it."

The Guardian - 2 stars

Anne-Marie Duff plays bereaved mother and Danny's ex-wife Susannah. (Channel 4)
Anne-Marie Duff plays bereaved mother and Danny's ex-wife Susannah. (Channel 4)

"Clearly Suspect is aiming for a certain mood, a sort of Luther-lite. It is noirish, all neon lighting in darkened corners, with locations named the Crimson Orchid (a strip club), Baz’s Sauna and Gym (a boxing club) and, er, County Racecourse. But it is a strained version of noir that doesn’t land, and often ends up cartoonish..."

"It is highly theatrical, and it has, oddly, the feel of early lockdown TV, when as much was done with as little as possible. But this isn’t lockdown, and I found the theatrics so heightened – Christina regularly appears to her father as a sort of shimmering clue from the afterlife – that by episode seven, it had lost me completely."

The Independent

"There’s obviously something deep in Nesbitt’s thespian core that makes him want to play the same character over and over. 'I’m gonna call the police!' Niamh Algar’s Nicola screams in his face at one point. 'I am the police!' Danny replies, a line that could be lifted, word-for-word, from about half the projects Nesbitt’s been involved in of late. The truth is that doing the same thing again and again seems like genius if the piece works. Nobody complained that John Wayne was playing another cowboy or that Hugh Grant was returning to his role as a sexy but bumbling upper-middle class haircut. But Suspect isn’t good. It isn’t a compelling new addition to the British TV detective canon. In fact, the only thing convincingly mysterious about it, is its existence."

Metro - 3 stars

"Suspect isn’t perfect, then, but it does feel like a fresh, dramatic take on gritty police drama; a Tales Of The Unexpected for The Killing generation."

Suspect continues tonight (Monday, 20 June) at 9pm on Channel 4.

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