Get us in your inbox

Blue Lights season 2
Photograph: Todd Antony/Two Cities Television

Blue Lights season 2: everything you need to know from the cast to reviews

Belfast’s answer to ‘The Wire’ is back with more hard-hitting police drama

Phil de Semlyen
Written by
Phil de Semlyen

Season 1 of ‘Blue Lights’ was one of the TV highlights of last year. The BBC cop show offered a ridiculously tense inside track on the dangerous work of Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) cops that was satisfying both as a police procedural and as a gutsy, uncompromising thriller. Co-created by ‘Panorama’ alumni Declan Lawn and Adam Patterson, it delivered both an unvarnished look at Belfast’s cultural and political fault lines and a dive into Northern Ireland’s organised crime scene, with the odd off-the-books MI5 op thrown in. All through the eyes of rookie officers Grace Ellis (Siân Brooke), Annie Conlon (Katherine Devlin) and Tommy Foster (Nathan Braniff) at Belfast’s fictional Blackthorn Station

The second season is landing on the BBC One this month and Lawn and Patterson are promising more of the same – only ‘bigger, bolder and more dramatic’. Drugs and street crime are on the rise this time out, which means more pressure and more perils for our doughty but hard-pressed band of law enforcers. And somewhere out there there are probably more gun-brandishing gangsters ready to get all their leave cancelled. Here’s what you need to know. 

Blue Lights season 2
Photograph: Christopher Barr/Two Cities TelevisionKatherine Devlin and Nathan Braniff in ‘Blue Lights’

When is season 2 of Blue Lights released? 

It all kicks off – figuratively and probably literally – on Monday April 15.

What should we expect from season 2? 

Time Out’s verdict on season 1 – ‘a gripping and cliché-free police drama that just might grow into Belfast’s answer to “The Wire”’ – was effusive and expectations are high for the show’s second run. Joint showrunner Lawn is doing nothing to dampen them. ‘Series two is bigger, bolder and more dramatic,’ he says. ‘Series 1 was about our recruits having their feet held in the fire. In series 2, they are firmly in the fire.’ 

There’s a maverick new presence in town for the cops to contend with: aggrieved ex-soldier and Afghanistan veteran Lee Thompson, an East Belfast Protestant. ‘Lee very quickly identifies a new enemy – drugs – as a threat to the well-being of his community and he goes after that with everything he’s got,’ explains the man who plays him, Seamus O’Hara. As Thompson takes matters into his own hands, violence escalates and chaos spirals. Expect Grace, Annie and their fellow uniformed police to be pining for the nice, quiet days of republican drug lord James McIntyre in season 1. 

Blue Lights season 2
Photograph: BBC/Two Cities TelevisionLee Thompson (Seamus O’Hara) with his sister Mags (Seána Kerslake)

Who’s in the cast? 

Alongside those season 1 veterans Siân Brooke, Katherine Devlin and Nathan Braniff, returning Blackthorn Station OGs include Londoner Andi Osho (‘Death in Paradise’) as custody sergeant Sandra Cliff, ‘Calibre’s Martin McCann as steady-eddy team member Stevie Neil, and Desmond Eastwood as Detective Murray Canning. The latter is now part of the Paramilitary Crime Task Force working to crack down on central Belfast’s drug problem.

Canning is joined in that task by his handpicked 2IC, headstrong response team member Shane Bradley, played by Frank Blake. ‘He sees Bradley as a heavy-handed officer who doesn’t mind getting into the less savoury aspects of the job,’ says Eastwood of his character’s deputy. ‘Canning takes the view there are alternative ways.’

Blue Lights season 2
Photograph: Christopher Barr/Two Cities TelevisionMartin McCann as Stevie Neil in ‘Blue Lights’

O’Hara (‘The Northman’, ‘Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves’) ‘is series newcomer Thompson, a returning army veteran hellbent on bringing a form of vigilante justice to the streets of Belfast. Dubliner Seána Kerslake (‘Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope’) plays Mags, his sister and co-owner of their Belfast pub, The Loyal.

Some of season 1’s cops left the show in a body bag, but Hannah McClean is back as former response team member and police nepo baby Jen Robinson. The ex-cop is now working as a Belfast solicitor – albeit still carrying the trauma of her policing experiences.

Where to watch Blue Lights?

You can catch the show on BBC One every Monday at 9pm, beginning on Monday April 15. If you’re more of an all-at-once person, binge the whole thing on BBC iPlayer from 6am that day.

Blue Lights season 2
Photograph: Two Cities TelevisionOfficers Neil and Ellis have a tense encounter with Lee Thompson and his sister Mags

How many episodes will there be?

As with season 1, there are six in total. And there’s two more seasons in the pipeline too, as per Radio Times

What are the reviews like for season 2?

The verdicts are in for the show’s second run and they’re overwhelmingly positive.

‘“Blue Lights” continues to skip deftly between light and dark,’ writes The Guardian, while the Financial Times praises its careful balance between political and personal themes, and thriller elements. ‘[It] carefully balances uneasy tension and exhilarating action with moments of camaraderie and post-adrenaline reflection.’

The Radio Times notes that the new season will keep fans happy, without necessarily winning over the unconverted. ‘It’s more of the same, just in the best way, carrying on with what worked so well last time.’ Gripping but conventional is The Independent’s verdict: ‘It’s hard not to feel that “Blue Lights” would be a more distinctive and ambitious show if it were slightly less preoccupied with regurgitating pre-existing tropes.’

Is there a trailer?

There is, and you can watch it below.

Where was ‘Blue Lights’ filmed? Inside the filming locations for season 2 of BBC’s police thriller.

Find out where ‘Blue Lights’ ranked on our list of 2023’s best TV series

You may also like
You may also like