There’s a principle in law that states that a person is ‘innocent until proven guilty.’ It’s a fundamental concept about the assumption of guilt that’s easy to understand and apply. But how about when a person is found guilty of a crime and then later acquitted? Is it possible to just instantly change your view of that person and truly treat them as innocent? Well, that’s the interesting idea that ITV’s cleverly-titled new crime drama Innocent looks to explore.
Shot back in 2016, this four-part series has sat on the shelf for a couple of years but is finally airing on ITV 1 over four consecutive nights. From the minds and pens of the excellent crime writers M J Arlidge and Unforgotten’s Chris Lang, the story focuses around a man named David Collins, played by a rather off-puttingly goatee-bearded Lee Ingleby from Line of Duty.
We open with him being acquitted of the murder of his wife Tara, a full seven years after his initial conviction. We’re quickly informed that his release from prison is due to ‘a technicality’ – the handling of the forensic evidence was flawed – but Collins’ defiant speech to the gathered media demonstrates a man determined to prove his innocence. Or determined to lie to the bitter end…
And there we have our rather simple premise. A did-he-dunit, if you like. The courts have decided there isn’t enough evidence to prove his guilt, the jury can’t make up their collective mind and the prosecution have also given up. Collins is effectively now an innocent man. But that’s not how the court of public opinion treats him. In that court, he’s as guilty as sin.
His sister-in-law Alice (Cold Feet’s Hermione Norris) is convinced of his guilt, openly weeping at the acquittal. Her and her husband Rob adopted Collins’ two children after his imprisonment and she’s frightened he’ll attempt to take back the kids – something David immediately consults a solicitor about doing.
Hatred comes from all angles as David learns that his former co-workers and friends have also abandoned him, all assured of his guilt. Only his brother Phil is fighting his corner and prepared to stand up for him.
Our police types come in the rather unconvincing shape of Angel Coulby (Merlin) and Nigel Lindsay (Four Lions, Alpha Papa), the unconvincing aspect being that the former, a pretty and fresh-faced young detective inspector, is in a relationship with her significantly older and less fresh-faced colleague (no offence, Nigel). Even more oddly, DI Cathy Hudson is given the Collins’ case to investigate further after her lover DI William Beech is rather unceremoniously dumped from it. An obvious conflict of interests, one would imagine.
We’re expecting DI Beech to turn out to be a less-than-savoury character, by the way. Those furtive, shifty glances are a dead giveaway, aren’t they?
There are shades of Broadchurch to this week-long crimer, but will Innocent capture the public’s imagination in quite the same way? It’s solid and has an intriguing premise that we’re looking forward to being realised fully across the four episodes, but whether it’ll become a television classic remains to be seen.
Still, we’re only a quarter of the way through and we’re expecting plenty of twists and turns to come our way. Let’s see how the rest of the week plays out and just how innocent David Collins really is…
Our early theory? We’re going with David being innocent, but not his brother Phil. He could have been obsessed with Tara and became violently jealous, only defending his brother to further distance himself from looking guilty. That’s our hunch, anyway…
Did you catch Innocent episode 1? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below!