Minor spoilers for Unforgotten series 4 episode 1 below.
There are cold cases and there are cold cases. In Monday night’s return of the hugely popular ITV crime drama Unforgotten, there’s a case so cold it’s literally frozen.
The Nicola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar-starring hit show has returned for a fourth run after a three year absence from our screens. DI Sunny Khan’s back with his intuition, his dry sense of humour and – yes – his trusty backpack. DCI Cassie Stuart is around too. Not that she wants to be.
The events of series 3 have taken their toll on Cassie and her propensity to get too involved in her cases has her seriously burnt out. She’s eyeing retirement, but a new tweak to the HR rules means an early slinking off to the garden isn’t possible. 29 years and nine months is three months shy of the required 30 years of service. Cassie needs to put another 12 weeks into the force or lose her not inconsiderable pension. So she’s forced back to her devastating and traumatic old job.
To the action. Barely a minute or two in and we’re off to a scrapyard in North London to peer at a corpse that’s just been flung from an old freezer, sans head. Freezer burns on the skin date the death to having happened around 1990. An old sweet wrapper confirms it. There was uproar back when Marathon changed its name to Snickers, but it may all have been worth it if it helps break this (admittedly fictional) case. We can never forgive the Opal Fruits/Starburst thing, though.
The corpse is soon identified by a distinctive football badge tattoo on the right upper arm. The victim instantly loses a little sympathy when it’s pointed out that he was a Millwall supporter.
The team begin running around like, well, headless Millwall supporters, until a break in the case sees them identify the victim as one Matt Walsh. Further progress is made when it’s worked out who owned the freezer he was stuffed into since before Dance with Wolves was available on VHS.
Previous series of Unforgotten have seen its guest stars pick up BAFTAs for their work, so there’s no shortage of talented thesps out there willing to work on the show. This season it seems as though Sheila Hancock and Andy Nyman might be in the mix for statuettes come awards season.
As with most first episodes, this series opener is fairly heavy on exposition and character introductions. It’s almost like being a bit tipsy at a party as we’re constantly moving about meeting new people with names we instantly forget. By the end of these first 50 minutes, however, we’ve seen all the faces and know a little of their backgrounds and situations. In the very last minute, we rather smartly find out how they’re all connected…
Dean Barton (Andy Nyman, Ghost Stories), Liz Baildon (Susan Lynch, Save Me), Fiona Grayson (Liz White, Life on Mars) and Ram Sidhu (Phaldut Sharma, Hanna) all have a couple of things in common. They all passed out as new police officers in 1990 and were all in a car that got pulled over by police very close to where Matt Walsh was last seen.
Did their recently deceased former colleague Robert Fogarty drunkenly run Walsh over?
Hang on a minute. We’re talking some thirty years ago here. That’s also when a certain Cassie Stuart would have also come through the police training centre at Hendon. We’ll see if that comes into play over the course of the next five Monday nights. Might she have a history with one or two of the passengers?
It’s good to have this back on our schedules and on our hard drives. Chris Lang’s witty and clever scripts, top drawer casting and – above all – the easy warmth and chemistry of Nicola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar were much missed. Thankfully Unforgotten wasn’t forgotten by ITV bosses. And series 4 doesn’t look like it’ll disappoint.
What did you make of the return of Cassie and Sunny in Unforgotten series 4 episode 1? Let us know in the comments below…