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What Remains

Sun Aug 25, 9-10pm, BBC1

Series one, episode one
Television crime drama is enjoying an astonishing renaissance this year; Tony Basgallop’s four-part ‘What Remains’ looks like becoming just the latest compelling serial to add to 2013’s remarkable roster of modern classics. (Series four of Brenda Blethyn’s ‘Vera’ also starts tonight at 8pm on ITV, if you want something a little less challenging.)

When a rotting corpse is discovered in the attic of a London house converted into flats, the secrets of the ill-assorted residents (including uptight teacher David Bamber, new occupant and expectant dad Russell Tovey, and raddled crime journalist Steven Mackintosh) begin to tumble out under the scrutiny of a copper (David Threlfall) approaching retirement. The set-up sounds tiresomely generic, but the execution grips instantly, just as it did with Basgallop’s 2012 heist thriller, ‘Inside Men’.

It’s a pleasure to watch such a well-cast ensemble working through such a tightly crafted narrative, while the undertones of isolation and insecurity will be familiar to most big city dwellers. Very promising indeed.