WARNING: contains mild spoilers
BBC’s Hidden goes by another name in its native language. It started out on a primarily non-English speaking channel and just made its debut on BBC Four, in their 9pm Saturday night slot, known in some TV-loving UK households as ‘Foreign Crime Drama Time’. Yet Craith, as it’s also called, even with its occasional subtitling, stunning landscapes, eerily familiar tone and plot of a strong female detective searching for the twisted killer of local women isn’t – as you might assume – Nordic noir. Nor is it French, German or Belgian. It’s British.
Hinterland, Requiem, Keeping Faith… There’s a mini Welsh wave going on at the moment in dark dramas and Hidden is just the latest to crash onto our televisual shores. Viewers are offered two ways of watching the series; there’s the mostly English language version on BBC Four that we’ll be watching and covering and there’s the ‘original’ Welsh language version as shown on BBC Wales. Hidden’s no remake, though. Both were filmed at the same time, with the same scene being shot twice – in Welsh and then in English/bilingual. Now that’s a lot of work for the cast and crew…
The smattering of Cymric dialogue – along with the evocative Snowdonian vistas and the perfectly matched cinematography – lends Hidden a real Scandi flavour, but a charming and frill-free central performance by former Emmerdale actress Sian Reese-Williams helps ground this potentially quite disturbing psychological thriller.
This debut episode doesn’t stun with any flashy sequences or showy gimmicks. What it does instead is confidently set up the storyline with patience and no small amount of charm. Of course, we kick things off with the discovery of a woman’s corpse. That’s par for the course with these things. But what we really like here is that it seems as though we might have been told the killer nice and early…
Now, some viewers will sigh a little here, loving as so many do the whodunit guessing game that comes with the majority of TV crime dramas. And while this Agatha Christie-style set-up can make for a fun watch at home, it’s sometimes at the expense of the programme itself. The drama becomes obsessed with red herrings and curveballs and it results in a slightly untidy mess of loose ends, odd characters and a general lack of realism.
It doesn’t take Hercule Poirot to deduce that Dylan Harris (My Family‘s Rhodri Meilir), a rather glum-looking and lonely man, is behind the crimes here. Living in a forest clearing in a dimly-lit wooden house like something out of Grimm fairytale and bullied by his mother Iona (Gillian Elisa), he appears – on the surface – to be quite a sympathetic character. So we’re excited to see how the writers handle his story, motives and development.
On his tail is the aforementioned Reese-Williams. DI Cadi John is a refreshingly down-to-earth type. Far removed for the highly-strung histrionics of a Marcella, say, Cadi’s just a normal woman. She’s sardonic, straight-talking and has a rather laissez faire approach to her health (if her enthusiasm toward takeaways, wine and cigarettes in this first 45 minutes is any indication, anyway). That said, she’s bigger problems on her plate. Her father’s dying and her relationship with her older sister is suffering because of it. And a missing girl has just turned up dead, of course.
Away from the washed-up corpse and the dogged detective on the case we have a couple of so-far unconnected plot strands occasionally waving into view. There’s the caring but stressed-out district nurse Lowri Driscoll (Lois Meleri-Jones), who appears to be being stalked by some rather unpleasant chap called Marc. And there’s Megan (Bethan John), a suicidal student who’s close to the edge – quite literally at one point as she dangles over a bridge. We’re sure to see them brought into the main plot very soon.
So far, after one episode, Hidden looks solid. Classy, gripping and well acted, there’s nothing about it that gives us cause for concern. The various plot threads will start to assemble and Harris’ character will surely come to the fore and prove to be more than a little interesting/terrifying.
Alright, so the brown hue, the aerial shots of cars twisting around rocky roads, the occasional mumbled line and the ‘troubled’ detective fighting demons and a killer isn’t hugely original. That doesn’t mean it can’t still be hugely enjoyable, though.
Did you catch Craith/Hidden episode 1? What did you make of it? Let us know in the comments below!