Star-studded drama Fortitude begins with shock death

SPOILERS: The Sky Atlantic series appeared to kill of a major character in the first episode - but are things really as they seem?

Just one episode in and Sky Atlantic’s chilly thriller Fortitude is shaping up to be as merciless with its stars as another of the channel’s big shows, Game of Thrones.

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The fantasy drama is notorious for doing away with major players in shocking twists but even it didn’t dispense with its first key character until the end of season one.

Thursday night’s opening episode of Fortitude featured the aftermath of what appeared to be the murder of Christopher Eccleston’s character, research biologist Professor Charlie Stoddart.

A misdiagnosis at the scene of the crime saw Stoddart regain consciousness in the ambulance but he was dead by the time he reached hospital as the result of an apparently frenzied attack that had involved a variety of weapons including a potato peeler.

In a star-studded cast that also includes Michael Gambon, Sofie Gråbøl and Stanley Tucci, Eccleston had nevertheless been one of the big draws – so has he really been killed off already? 

Fortitude creator Simon Donald has warned that he “enjoys killing famous actors”, but on The One Show this week Eccleston himself said of filming the series, “it was really interesting to see all these big guns go down week by week”. 

Does that imply that he was still around during filming, or just that he has watched the whole series? Or was it a deliberate attempt at misdirection to hide the twist?

We won’t know for sure until at least next Thursday but there have been tiny hints of something supernatural going on in Fortitude and we hear that episode six will bring a major twist. Could it be the return of a supposedly dead character?

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They do say no-one is ever allowed to die in Fortitude…