Alan Waldman : ‘Waking the Dead’ is an Excellent Brit Cold-Case Series

Waldman’s film and TV
treasures you may have missed:

Cops, a profiler, and a forensic scientist crack old murder cases.

By Alan Waldman | The Rag Blog | July 2, 2013

[In his weekly column, Alan Waldman reviews some of his favorite films and TV series that readers may have missed, including TV dramas, mysteries, and comedies from Canada, England, Ireland, and Scotland. Most are available on DVD and/or Netflix, and some episodes are on YouTube.]

Waking the Dead won a 2004 “Best Drama Series” International Emmy, the “Best TV Crime Program” award from Britain’s Television and Radio Industries Club, and nominations for a “Best Television Episode Teleplay” Edgar and another International Emmy.

It aired 46 two-part episodes between 2000 and 2011 over nine seasons — five of which are currently on Netflix. It starred Trevor Eve as the head of a fictional cold case unit, Sue Johnston as its profiler, and Wil Johnson as a police officer.

In seasons 1-5 they were teamed with Holly Aird as a forensic scientist, and in seasons 1-4 Claire Goose was a police partner on the team. Others replaced the latter pair in subsequent series, including Tara Fitzgerald (Brassed Off, Sirens), who briefly headed the six-episode spinoff series The Body Farm, after Eve left the show.

The cold-case team uses new evidence, including DNA, to re-open and solve old cases. Here is an episode.

Eve’s character, Detective Superintendent Peter Boyd, is sometimes stern, angry, and unorthodox, whereas Johnston’s Dr. Grace Foley is calming and reasonable.

Episodes deal with murders, kidnapping, sexual child abuse, arson, mysterious disappearances, gangsters, and more.

Series producer Colin Wratten said about the research and grisly special effects on Waking the Dead: “With the amount of gruesome script research I’ve done on my BBC computer, I’m probably on every government watch list.”

This is a compelling, dramatic cop series, and it had a nice long run.

[Oregon writer and Houston native Alan Waldman holds a B.A. in theater arts from Brandeis University and has worked as an editor at The Hollywood Reporter and Honolulu magazine. Read more of Alan Waldman’s articles on The Rag Blog.]

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