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'The Fall' review: Are you watching Gillian Anderson's dark drama?

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The Fall

The Fall on BBC Two



It airs on Monday nights. There's a murder. It must be the new Broadchurch.

Early previews and gossip about The Fall couldn't have been more inaccurate unless they had billed it as a replacement for The Great British Bake Off. Broadchurch was brilliant and so is The Fall. And yes, they both have police investigations. But at that point the similarities end.

The Fall is a jet black murder series, unflinching in its method and ice cold in its delivery. There's no Olivia Colman, comedy West Country accents or whodunnit guesswork to lighten the mood in this Belfast-based drama.

Jamie Dornan as Paul Spector in 'The Fall'

© BBC / Artists Studio/Steffan Hill

Jamie Dornan as Paul Spector in 'The Fall'



Plus, if The Fall was a whodunnit, it would be the worst whodunnit of all time. The biggest mystery in the show is how many ex-Hollyoaks cast members keep popping up. Seriously, you can't move for them.

Tonight's episode two was a deeply disturbing hour of television that wasn't for the faint-hearted. A policeman was shot dead in the back of the head in front of his son, there was coke-snorting and prostitutes, a 15-year-old babysitter getting kinky with the killer, a murderer who pleasured himself over images of his victim and lots and lots of hair-sniffing.

It made the finale of Broadchurch look like a cosy episode of Heartbeat.

'The Fall' Episode Two: DSI Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson)

© BBC / Artists Studio/Steffan Hill

'The Fall' Episode Two: DSI Stella Gibson



Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan as the show's two leads elevate The Fall above being a morbid curiosity or a shock fest.

> Gillian Anderson: 'The Fall' interview
> Jamie Dornan: 'The Fall' interview

Anderson's DI Stella Gibson is the London Met investigator brought in to unravel an entangled series of murders and her steely demeanour is intriguing and Sarah Lund-esque.

She appears to have the strength of character to contend with the troubles of incompetent staff, behind-the-scenes police politics and pesky journalists. And she's also ready to demand steamy sex from any hot copper that she fancies, ordering Ben Peel's DS James Olson up to her hotel room to test out the bed springs. I like her.

'The Fall' Episode Two: Spector's babysitter Katie (Aisling Franciosi)

© BBC / Artists Studio/Steffan Hill

'The Fall' Episode Two: Spector's babysitter Katie



Dornan's family man/deranged serial killer Paul Spector should be unconvincing as the villain of the piece. The former boxer shorts model should be far too conveniently handsome for such a dark TV role, but it is to the Once Upon a Time star's credit that he manages to bring the violent monster to life in worryingly believable and incredibly scary fashion.

Spector's murder scrapbooking, knicker sniffing and dead women's hair collection make him one of the most frightening TV creatures in a long while and his seemingly happy family life make the show, at times, a tough watch.

The Fall is unsettling viewing and is probably too chilling to attract a mass audience. However, if it maintains the form of its first two episodes, it could be in line to be one of the TV shows of the year.

The Fall continues on Mondays at 9pm on BBC Two.

Have you been watching The Fall? What did you think about episode two?

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