Tuesday, 30 August 2011

The Field of Blood (BBC One)

Here's my Orange review of the first part of The Field of Blood, a very watchable thriller set around a Glasgow city paper newsroom in the early 1980s. It's written and directed by David Kane, based on a novel by Denise Mina.

I'm very surprised it didn't receive more promotion (having been broadcast in Scotland earlier in the year). It's definitely worth a look on iPlayer.

Set designers must make quite a few bob these days from recreating the murky world of the '70s and '80s – after Life on Mars, Ashes to Ashes and Red Riding, we're now back to the smoky fug of an early '80s news room for The Field of Blood, a grim and gritty two-parter. 
Adapted from a novel by Glaswegian crime writer Denise Mina, it revolves around Paddy Meehan (Jayd Johnson), an ambitious (female) copy boy on one of the city's newspapers who aspires to becoming a fully fledged journalist.

When her 10-year-old cousin is charged with the abduction and murder of a local toddler, she becomes determined to investigate the case further and prove his innocence, while demonstrating her talent to her hard-bitten editor (David Morrissey).

However, it doesn't take long for her ambition to crank up the tension with her clannish Catholic family, and her persistent questioning – while pretending to be trainee reporter Heather Allen (Alana Hood) – had some very serious consequences as the episode reached its grim climax.

Jayd Johnson, a familiar face in Scotland from the Glasgow soap River City, gives Paddy a lot of feist and heart as she struggles to balance her family relationships with her desire to break into the grizzly world of the newspapermen (although Jayd clearly isn't fat, as everybody claims Paddy is).

And while David Morrissey and his fellow TV heavyweight Peter Capaldi (as a burnt-out hack) weren't given too much to do, the rest of the cast fit the bill perfectly – especially Ford Kiernan as the drunken, lecherous reporter George McVie.

The Field of Blood was originally shown in Scotland back in May and seems to have been almost apologetically slipped into the national schedule. That's a shame, as it's a fast-moving and intriguing little mystery that deserved a bit more fanfare.

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