As the award-win­ning Un­for­got­ten re­turns, the de­tec­tives delve into an old mur­der case – and face a very mod­ern bat­tle with so­cial me­dia

Daily Mail Weekend Magazine - - NEWS - Ni­cole Lam­pert

In the new se­ries of Un­for­got­ten, the de­tec­tives in­ves­ti­gate the mur­der of a girl at the turn of the Mil­len­nium

Acrime that has resur­faced af­ter decades; sus­pects with skele­tons about to come tum­bling out of the cup­board; and tele­vi­sion’s two least showy de­tec­tives – it can only be ITV’s BAFTA-win­ning Un­for­got­ten, back for a third se­ries.

The show is a crit­i­cal and ratings hit de­spite its two leads, DCI Cassie Stu­art ( Nicola Walker) and DI Sunny Khan (San­jeev Bhaskar), not fit­ting the typ­i­cal TV de­tec­tive model of be­ing dys­func­tional, mav­er­ick or su­per­heroes. Its sto­ries use a well- trod­den for­mula, yet have mod­ern themes and at­ti­tudes bear­ing on the his­tor­i­cal crimes.

The first se­ries dealt with racism, the sec­ond was based around child abuse, and the third looks at how be­ing a sus­pect in the age of so­cial me­dia can ruin your life, even if you’re in­no­cent.

In this new story, the body of a girl who van­ished on the eve of the mil­len­nium is dis­cov­ered at a build­ing site on the M1, sev­eral miles from where she went miss­ing. Her dis­ap­pear­ance was huge na­tional news at the time, so when her re­mains are found, DCI Stu­art and DI Khan find them­selves bat­tling a me­dia storm and a frenzy of com­men­tary on the in­ter­net – as well as a com­mu­nity very re­luc­tant to be in the pub­lic eye again.

‘It’s high-profile and you see how the vil­lage where the girl went miss­ing from has never re­cov­ered,’ says Nicola. ‘Not every­one wants them rak­ing up the past and that’s prob­a­bly more com­mon than we re­alise. The vil­lage has be­come syn­ony­mous with this ap­palling crime.

‘For many peo­ple, the crime is in liv­ing mem­ory so the team has to tread ex­tremely gen­tly. The story looks at how a mis­han­dled case sticks in the con­scious­ness of the whole coun­try. We can all name big cases like that. They change the way you feel about the world and that’s some­thing the writer and cre­ator Chris Lang has been look­ing at all the way through.’

Chris says, ‘I like the idea that peo­ple l ive with what they’ve done for years or decades.

And I wanted to ex­am­ine what hap­pens when the in­ves­ti­ga­tion reaches their door.’ This time, the de­tec­tives quickly home in on their sus­pects. In 2000, po­lice fo­cused on the vic­tim’s boyfriend, but the dis­cov­ery of her body near the M1 means they now be­lieve the killer came from out­side her vil­lage. At­ten­tion shifts to four men, child­hood friends, who were hol­i­day­ing nearby with their fam­i­lies, to cel­e­brate the New Year.

For one of the men, James Hol­lis – por­trayed by Kevin McNally, who played first mate Gibbs in Pi­rates Of The Caribbean – life changes as soon as the po­lice come knock­ing. A well- loved tele­vi­sion host, he shoul­ders the brunt of pub­lic anger, egged on by so­cial me­dia.

‘ If you’re fa­mous and are seen go­ing into a po­lice sta­tion, it at­tracts at­ten­tion,’ says Kevin. ‘At one point, a stranger swears at James – they as­sume he’s guilty. Every­one has an opin­ion about him.’

Chris says a big theme of this se­ries is the neg­a­tive side of so­cial me­dia. ‘The abil­ity to ex­press the rage we see every day on Twit­ter and Face­book is seis­mic,’ he says. ‘Has that anger al­ways been there, or does the plat­form am­plify the anger? We’re liv­ing in an­gry times.’

The three other men in the frame went to school with James. Alex Jen­nings (the Duke of Wind­sor in The Crown) is Dr Tim Finch, a twice-mar­ried coun­try GP. He too is af­fected by the at­ten­tion from the po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion. ‘You should be in­no­cent be­fore proven guilty,’ he says. ‘ With the #Me­Too move­ment... while it’s right all that in­for­ma­tion should come out, there may be ques­tion­able ac­cu­sa­tions and peo­ple’s rep­u­ta­tions ma­ligned.’

Pete Carr, played by Men Be­hav­ing Badly’s Neil Mor­ris­sey, is an un­suc­cess­ful busi­ness­man who strug­gles to sup­port his wife and two sons. He has re­lied for years on his friends. Neil says one thing that drew him to the role was the de­pic­tion of male friend­ship.

‘Their friend­ship brings out their car­ing sides,’ he says. ‘They help each other but also have ar­gu­ments. Un­for­got­ten ques­tions the value of friend­ships and if any of us are aware of what our friends are re­ally ca­pa­ble of.’

Fi­nally, there is Chris Lowe (James Fleet of Vicar Of Di­b­ley fame), who has fallen on dif­fi­cult times. For­merly a suc­cess­ful ad­ver­tis­ing ex­ec­u­tive, he suf­fers from bipo­lar dis­or­der and has lost his job, mar­riage and home. ‘We look at how lives are af­fected by men­tal ill­ness,’ says James. ‘It’s a huge is­sue and it’s healthy to talk about it.’

The de­tec­tives are un­der pres­sure at home, too. Nei­ther has re­cov­ered from the last se­ries, when they in­ves­ti­gated se­ri­ous sex­ual as­saults. Sunny is dat­ing but his ex-wife is back. Cassie is lonely, as her youngest son has moved out and her fa­ther now has a new girl­friend.

‘We see more into their home lives, au­di­ences told us they like that. But the case is still the pri­or­ity,’ says Chris.

The show is fa­mous for plot twists and the cast admit they never guess the mur­derer. But Chris insists the end­ings are plau­si­ble – the clues are there. ‘ It’s im­por­tant to al­ways re­solve a story, and that doesn’t mean sud­denly bring­ing in a new char­ac­ter,’ he says. ‘ Peo­ple are tired of en­gag­ing with a story for hours then it not be­ing re­solved at the end.

‘Here, the cul­prit is one of four or five peo­ple, so you can get it right – if you watch closely enough.’

‘We live in an­gry times. The abil­ity to ex­press rage on­line is seis­mic’

Un­for­got­ten, to­mor­row, 9pm, ITV.

Cassie and Sunny have a new his­tor­i­cal case to solve

Neil Mor­ris­sey plays a man strug­gling to sup­port his fam­ily

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