What we could really do with at the moment is something cheery to lift our spirits in the face of strikes, holiday chaos, inflation and the rest. And what did we get last night? James Nesbitt.
He’s a fine actor, but nobody does despair like him. For added gloom, he was playing a detective (of course he was) in a thriller adapted from a harrowing Scandi noir.
The original version of Suspect (C4) was a Danish hit called Forhoret (‘Interrogation’). Nesbitt plays DS Danny Frater, who arrives at the mortuary one day on a routine inquiry and discovers that the body on the slab is his estranged daughter, Christina.
The following moments were gruelling and tense even by the rigorous standards that Nesbitt sets in this exacting field. His face almost collapsed in front of us.
Pathologist Joely Richardson insisted that Christina hanged herself, but Danny is a maverick detective with a chaotic personal life and so, under the rigid rules of TV drama, he naturally thinks it was murder.
By the end of last night’s two episodes, he had discovered that Christina, supposedly an events manager, owned a suspiciously swanky flat.
Also, what is her connection with a lap-dancing club? And has she been dealing drugs?
Nesbitt was excellent; he always is. But what was remarkable about Suspect was the stripped-back, bare format.
It had an almost theatrical feel, with each episode played mostly as a set-piece scene between Nesbitt and one other actor.
It was also unusual to see Danny and Christina’s wife sharing a cigarette in episode two. At least until Danny remembered: ‘I don’t really smoke.’