TV Pick of the Week: Bodies - review by Yvette Huddleston
You will need to have your wits about you while watching this complex, compelling crime thriller, but it certainly rewards the effort many times over.
There are four different narrative strands, all set in the Whitechapel area of London but taking place in four separate time frames – 1890, 1941, 2023 and 2053 – with four different police officers trying to solve an almost identical mystery. Thanks to the skilful script and storytelling, this is not nearly as confusing as it sounds.
It opens in the present day with detective sergeant Shahara Hasan (Amaka Okafor) on duty at a far-right march in the East End. When she notices a suspicious-looking young man lurking in the shadows with a gun, she gives chase and ends up in a back street alleyway where she discovers the naked body of a man who has apparently been shot through the eye. The killing may or may not be connected to the young man she was chasing.
We then move back in time to a noirish 1941 with charming ladies man detective Charles Whiteman (Jacob Fortune-Lloyd) who appears to be involved in some questionable, but lucrative, arrangement with a shadowy organisation. Their latest requirement of him is to pick up and dispose of the naked body of a man which has been left in a Whitechapel alleyway… Meanwhile back in the Victorian era, police detective Alfred Hillinghead (Kyle Soller) investigates when a body is discovered, with the help of a photojournalist who may have inadvertently captured the image of the man’s killer. And in the near-future time period, police officer Iris Maplewood (Shira Haas), navigates the streets of London in her voice-activated AI electronic car, stumbling across the body in the now boarded up alleyway.
Apart from the unfortunate victim, there is something else that connects all four storylines – an enigmatic figure played by Stephen Graham across the centuries who could be the key to unlocking the mystery. The time shifts are well handled and the characterisation of the lead detectives satisfyingly filled out. Hasan lives with her father and young son and is trying to balance being a single parent with a demanding work life. Whiteman’s moonlighting means that he is constantly having to cover his tracks; as a closeted gay man Hillinghead has his own secrets to keep and Maplewood’s past has featured loss and trauma, possibly linked to a catastrophic incident that took place in London in 2023. Gripping stuff.