Bancroft: Enthralling opening, meandering middle, terrible conclusion

Tonight, ITV’s most hyped 9pm drama since Broadchurch concluded. However, despite having the backing of C5’s Wright Stuff TV critic Kevin O’Sullivan, it really failed to live up to its high expectations. After a strong start, it fell off of the perennial cliff – and never recovered.

It all started so well. The reopening of a cold case from 1990, where DS Bancroft was the officer in charge. Her first body, as she keeps explaining to everyone who mentions the case. Laura Fraser turned out not to be the only skeleton in her closet as her shady past came back to haunt her. Imagine the shock when it turned out that she was the killer at the end of the opening episode… straight after her murder of the original main officer of the case, DI Haverstock.


Fast paced, clever, and shot in a way where you could see everything that was going on but in a way that left it all up to interpretation, expectations were met substantially. Episode 2 began to focus on Bancroft’s internal guilt as Katherine Stevens’ investigation continued. It also saw her try and subtly prevent the case from being further challenged as she looked to win the position of Superintendent from her retiring superior. The Kamara case, an intriguing mix involving weapons importation, arranged marriages and murder, came to the forefront.

But it is here where the elated satisfaction began to draw to a close. For the next 2 hours, it becae very predictable, and sluggish. It became obvious Bancroft had previously had an affair with Tim Fraser, the victim’s husband. Stevens and Bancroft’s son, Joe, were on, and then off, and then on again. Kamara continued, getting closer to catching the villain, Artif.

The third part, quite simply, was dreadful. The final section, however, was extremely clever. Tim realised that Bancroft must have murdered her, as she tried to frame him for the 27 year old crime. But he could do little about it, as she had managed to implicate him in every way possible. Stevens was close to catching her, but had no evidence, whilst having all credibility with Joe destroyed and fearing for her life.


But then came the scene which made no sense. Why did Bancroft bomb the safe house she had worked so hard to obtain for Artif’s sister in law, who had been working with the police to catch the Kamaras? In her twisted logic, to frame forensic scientist Anya Karim, who was working with Stevens on the Fraser case?

A lot was promised for the finale. Just how would Bancroft be brought to justice for her crimes? Sadly, she wasn’t, and by the time the end credits came rolling through, it felt like a waste of four hours.

Predictably, it was revealed that Joe’s father ws not her ex-husband Brian, but Tim Fraser. Predictably, it was revealed that the “crime of passion” and bite marks were produced because of her own relationship with Laura. And even more predictably, she decided that Stevens must pay for her involvement with her case and so attempted to kill her and frame Artif Kamara, by now whom was dead also.

But despite winning the DCI position she was desperate to obtain, she lost her control over her son, last seen fleeing the house in search for his father. Anya Karim had found Joe at the hospital and exposed all of Bancroft’s lies. Stevens finished the series in a medically induced coma, surprisingly having survived being shot in the head at point blank range.


And Bancroft? See was last seeing dressing up in her new uniform as head of the police force. Not legally defeated, but morally destoryed, at least privately. It has clearly been left open for a second series… but why? Four episodes seemed too many, and it simply doesnt have the same plot thickness as Broadchurch, or the BBC’s equivalents, Doctor Foster and Line Of Duty.

Despite the plot gaps, weak cohesion and poor conclusion, it unveiled Faye Marsay as a talented young force in the industry. It also once again proved why Sarah Parish is one of the nation’s finest, through her wonderful portrayal. Rarely is a villain so likeable. But sadly, it also proved why Phil Collinson should stick to producing soaps. Not everything needs to go on forever. Not every criminal should evade justice. And not every three to four part series needs to be extended beyond its credible lifetime.

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About the author

Ryan Powell