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  • Writer's picturePaul Gainey

Annika

Ever since Nicola Walker was unforgivably written out of Unforgotten, leaving Sanjeev Bhaskar with no one to moon at over the body bags, the hunt has been on to find her another job in TV’s bulging crime sector.


She has now been put on a boat in the comedy crime drama Annika. She’s the new DI at Scotland Police’s Maritime Homicide Unit.


Walker is reprising the role of DI Annika Strandhed she once played on Radio 4. Annika is a dowdy crime-solving supercop, but with the twist that she is also a Norwegian single mum. Walker gives her character an accent that makes Annika sound like she’s from the southern part of Norway locals call Bethnal Green.


Her daughter, Morgan, 15, hates her new school, has made no friends in drama club, and drinks vodka.


How can she not appreciate living in a loch-side house with the sublime backdrop of mountains rising from presumably corpse-infested waters? Her mum is a fond parent but too busy finessing her conviction stats to communicate properly.


There follows a body swap and a rather unsatisfying boat chase. But, like most crime dramas, the whodunnit comes second to the story’s main sources of interest – the scenery and the comedy of daffy Annika failing to manage both her daughter and her new team.


In the office, there’s Tyrone, the bungling newbie who manages to get held hostage by a crossbow teacher. There’s Blair, who favours boiler suits and is so proverbially undervalued that a barista writes “Blah” on her coffee cup.


Blair does all the detecting while more highly paid principals flounce about. And then there’s DS Michael McAndrews, the old lag who is sulking because Annika got the job he thinks by rights is his.


The central case is gripping enough and ensures the 50-minute runtime passes at a fairly zippy pace, while the performances are solid, if rather unremarkable.


Not everything in the first episode works by any means – I wasn't particularly enamoured with the aforementioned Fleabag-style monologues to camera, for example, which is presumably a hangover from the programme's roots as a popular Radio 4 drama.


But at least this feature offers the series something which makes it stand out a little from the rather crowded field of run-of-the-mill detective dramas, and perhaps as we get to know Annika more these direct insights into her psyche will be more welcome.


It will be interesting to see what future sea-based murders fall under her scrutiny in subsequent instalments. For now, though, this is a solid start.




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