TV: Pregnant pauses

Written By: Les Hull
Published: July 29, 2017 Last modified: July 29, 2017

In the Dark
BBC 1

A pregnant crime solver on the screen is not that common. The last one I remember was in the film Fargo. Now there is In the Dark’s Detective Inspector Helen Weeks (MyAnna Buring). A pregnant cop is perhaps the most direct way to signify feminist detective fiction, since it’s difficult to have a male equivalent of a sleuth working under those circumstances. What makes it more interesting is that the novelist who created DI Weeks, Mark Billingham, and the dramatist who adapted her trials and tribulations for television, Danny Brocklehurst, are men.

Presumably they employed a high degree of intuitive imagination… and remembered to talk to some women.

There are two mysteries for the policewoman to investigate in the four-episode series; the backdrop for the first is the Peak District and in particular the small Derbyshire town where she grew up. The husband of a childhood friend has been arrested for the abduction of two girls and subsequently the murder of one of them. It’s a case Weeks is constantly seeing reported on TV and finally she asks her boss in Manchester to give her a temporary transfer as she knows the Peak District well and therefore has useful background knowledge.

“Alright, but just remember it’s not your case,” he tells her. “Don’t tread on anyone’s toes while you’re there.” She does, of course. She thinks the local police have got it all wrong, while the detective in charge of the investigation thinks she is under the influence of raging hormones. The audience, knowing the rules of the mystery story, are inclined to believe that Weeks is the one who’s probably right.

She does get pretty emotional, as a lot of issues from the past come back to haunt her. Meanwhile, partner and fellow detective Paul Hopkins (Ben Batt) has his own share of woes. Possibly, he is not the father of Helen’s baby. His behaviour is becoming a bit odd.
It rains on and off throughout the first story, which is good news for anyone who is a sucker for gloomy atmosphere.

The second tale has Weeks and Hopkins called back to Manchester to look into a gangland shooting. A turf war about to erupt. Can Helen’s relationship with Paul possibly survive?
The series has much to commend it but it is yet another one marred by poor sound quality.

There is still absolutely no sign that the BBC intends to do anything about this. I’d suggest Esther Rantzen lead a campaign about it but, apparently, she is in talks about with the Beeb about the possibility of reviving That’s Life. So, falling out with the corporation at the moment may be unwise.

It’s a real shame. In the Dark is another good show that could have been even better.