TV review: Case Histories


BBC1

Jason Isaacs: fending off women

Jason Isaacs: fending off women

Case Histories is advertised by the BBC as "an unusual take on the detective genre". And unusual it is if you have never seen The Rockford Files, Shoestring or The Lincoln Lawyer, all of which feature investigators with dysfunctional private lives but a genius for their work.

Isaacs may be a nice Jewish boy from Liverpool but he puts in a convincing shift as the ex-army, ex-police Yorkshireman Jackson Brodie, in this engaging adaptation of Kate Atkinson's novels.

The first mystery we have to solve is how a drama set in Edinburgh can run almost half an hour before we hear a Scottish accent. This irritation apart, the action and intrigue is offset nicely by Isaacs's engaging presence, and a literate, often funny script.

Despite his personal life falling apart, Brodie is a fine figure of a man (Isaacs has clearly spent plenty of time in the gym in preparation for the part). Producer Ashley Pharoah has him stripped to the waste at every opportunity. It does not take long for the ladies to notice - Brodie would have solved his caseload much more quickly if he had not been fending off the advances of multiple females. There was the actress, the former colleague and the woman who couldn't get an appointment so thought she would go for a one-night stand instead.

Ultimately he had just enough time to solve a disappearance unsolved for 30 years, to find the murderer of a teenage girl and to locate a missing teenager.

Such was amiability and eccentricity of the characters and the beauty of the Edinburgh settings that you almost forgot that we managed to wade through killings, child abuse, two assaults and a little adultery, all before the 10 o'clock news.

It might not be in the Downton Abbey class but Case Histories makes for great Sunday (and Monday) night viewing.

    Last updated: 10:44am, June 10 2011