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A murder hunt. Conspiracy. Lies. Innocent victims. A cracking ensemble cast. Take all these classic TV thriller elements and wrap them up inside a fast moving metal tube full of nuclear warheads, and you’ve got Vigil, one of the most exciting new TV dramas of the year.
Suranne Jones leads an all star line up in the brilliant new show about a homicide detective sent aboard an active patrol nuclear submarine to investigate a suspicious death.
She is joined by Paterson Joseph, Martin Compston, Rose Leslie, Daniel Portman, Connor Swindells, Stephen Dillane, Lois Chimimba, Lorne Macfadyen, Gary Lewis, Lauren Lyle and Shaun Evans amongst others.
Jones’s DCI Silva with a past is dispatched at short notice to Trident sibutramine HMS Vigil after a member of the crew is found dead – the boat is on duty so can’t call into harbour.
Rose Leslie’s fellow detective Longacre joins her team as a shore-based detective digging deep to find out more about the background to the case.
They both meet obstruction and obfuscation as they try to uncover the truth as a complex mystery begins to unfold.
Central to the series is the concept of the UK’s CASD (Continuous At Sea Deterrent) defence policy which has been in place since April 1969, and is based around having at least one part of the nation’s nuclear arsenal at sea, and undetectable.
As a result, the crew are under immense pressure and stress, as they are isolated from the rest of the world for months at a time, with the only contact with the outside world coming via incoming, and heavily vetted, messages from designated senders on shore.
It's a genius setting. While submarines have featured heavily in movies, it's rarely been featured in TV, with just the Das Boot mini-series, 90s sci-fi show Seaquest DSV and little-seen US drama Last Resort taking advantage of the unique environment.
Scotland shot Vigil was one of the first shows to begin filming last year after the first lockdown restrictions eased and has been eagerly awaited as one of the BBC’s biggest TV events of 2021.
It doesn’t disappoint, and it’s just as well that episodes one and two are being shown consecutively over its first two nights. A week long wait would be murder.
It’s packed full of tension, the claustrophobia on board the boat is overbearing through the eyes of the fish out of water police office, and the attention to detail really brings the underwater world to life.
Jones and Leslie make a great double act — even if they rarely share the screen together — and the variously suspicious or helpful members of the Vigil crew make for a great ensemble set around and against the struggling investigators.
Audiences will be hoping that the unravelling of the mysteries and apparent conspiracies throughout the series are as rewarding as seeing them stacked up in such style.
Vigil episode one premieres at 9pm, Sunday 29 August on BBC One, with episode two on Monday night.
WATCH: Trailer for new BBC drama Vigil