Guilt: the next big Brit crime drama
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16 January 2020

Guilt: the next big Brit crime drama

Luther. Sherlock. Broadchurch. Happy Valley. The Brits know how to do crime dramas. Now BBC Scotland has brought its own contribution, Guilt, to the table, and it’s getting rave reviews, including a Twitter shoutout from Jed Mercurio, creator of two other greats, Line of Duty and Bodyguard. 

Gentle record store owner Jake (Jamie Sives from Chernobyl) and his high-powered lawyer brother Max (BAFTA winner Mark Bonnar from Line of Duty and Catastrophe) don’t like one another very much. In fact, the only reason they’re driving along a quiet road late at night together is because they’ve been to a family wedding. Then they hit an old man, killing him instantly. 

With Jake behind the wheel stoned, uninsured, and under the influence, Max makes the call to cover up the accident. But their lives begin to fall apart when the man’s neighbours and relatives start asking questions about how he died. Trapped together by their shared guilt, they soon discover that everyone around them seems to have a hidden agenda … and they’re not the only ones with something to hide.

The perfect 4-part binge

In an era where epic multi-season dramas can feel like a major commitment, this four-part miniseries gets down to business right away. What starts out as a black comedy-drama becomes a tense, un-put-down-able thriller as the story progresses, making Guilt the perfect can’t-stop-for-tea weekend binge. 

“Guilt is the polar opposite to the trendy slow-burn box set,” says BBC.com’s arts editor Will Gompertz, who gave it five stars. “It starts with a bang and builds from there, with a plot that twists and turns like the snakes in Medusa’s hair.” 

“I wanted the brothers’ story to feel like quicksand. The more they struggle, the worse it gets,” says BAFTA-nominated writer Neil Forsyth. Of the show’s dark comedy, Forsyth says, “I find it hard to watch dramas where no-one says anything remotely funny for six hours of television. It’s so artificial. Humour is one of the major ways that human beings react to extreme pressure. It should always be woven into drama and I think that’s what all the best dramas have done, from The Sopranos to Breaking Bad to The West Wing.”

The Times UK’s Joe Clay calls Guilt “an absolute cracker”, while reviewer Carol Midgley says the show is “a lean whippet” that proves “big things come in small packages… it remained tight and sprightly to the end, offering just the right mixture of grit and wit.”

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