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Wolf review: Dark new BBC drama is must-watch television

Detective Inspector Honey (Sacha Dhawan) and Molina (Iwan Rheon) in Wolf (BBC)
Detective Inspector Honey (Sacha Dhawan) and Molina (Iwan Rheon) in Wolf (BBC)
  • 📺 Where to watch Wolf: 9pm on BBC One, BBC iPlayer from 31 July

  • ⭐️ Our rating: 5/5

  • 🍿 Watch it if you liked: True Detective, Luther, Cracker

  • 🎭 Who's in it?: Iwan Rheon, Juliet Stevenson, Owen Teale, Ukweli Roach and Annes Elwy

  • How long is it? 6 x 60 minute episodes

  • 📖 What’s it about? In an isolated house in the country, a family find themselves the victims of a terrifying psychopath's cruel games.

Dressed to decapitate and pulling no punches, Wolf is a 6-part home invasion drama from the BBC which comes on like Cracker, lingers longer than Luther, and delves as deeply into the darkness as True Detective.

Expertly adapted by Megan Gallagher from Mo Hayder’s novel of the same name, audiences should prepare themselves for a rollercoaster ride. What begins with a homecoming on the eve of a heinous murder, the show reaches a crescendo of vindictive violence and bloody retribution, earning Wolf its post-watershed primetime slot.

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From minute one, Wolf seeks to unsettle as ww follow Detective Inspector John Caffrey (Ukweli Roach) into his sub-conscious. Bare bulbs flicker in brick-lined basements, children cry out from behind locked doors, and Ivan Penderecki (Anthony Webster) lays in wait to fuel his childhood trauma.

Jack Caffrey (Ukweli Roach) in Wolf (BBC)
Jack Caffrey (Ukweli Roach) in Wolf (BBC)

This brutal introduction to an obsessive personality and the momentum it provides sits in direct opposition to the tranquil homecoming of Oliver (Owen Teale), Matilda (Juliet Stevenson) and Lucia (Annes Elwy) as they pull up to their ancestral pile.

Recovering from major surgery, Oliver is there to rest and recuperate under the watchful eye of his loving family. That serenity is quickly broken by the discovery of animal intestines, which eerily imitates elements of a grisly murder that sent shockwaves through the local area. Luckily for them, Detective Sergeant Molina (Iwan Rheon) and Detective Inspector Honey (Sacha Dhawan) soon arrive to calm their fears.

Events inevitably go off the rails soon after and creator Megan Gallagher ensures that tensions remain high by cross cutting between timelines, ramping up revelations, and putting the audience first when it comes to seeing people tormented: this series never lets them off easy.

Matilda (Juliet Stevenson) in Wolf (BBC)
Matilda (Juliet Stevenson) in Wolf (BBC)

As the complexities of this cunning plot slowly draw these creations together, Wolf plays a savvy game of show and tell. This allows the stellar line up of character actors an opportunity to really relish the material, as malevolence and mayhem combine in moments of ill-advised black comedy.

There are stand out moments for the deviant duo of Iwan Rheon and Sacha Dhawan, alongside fierce turns from Juliet Stevenson and Owen Teale too.

Wolf is mandatory viewing for those who appreciate a BBC dramas that aren't afraid of having a dark side.

Wolf will premiere on Monday 31 July at 9pm on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.