Bancroft series 1 recap: Here’s everything that happened back in 2017

We've recapped the first series of Bancroft ahead of the New Year's Day premiere of series 2

Bancroft, ITV Pictures, SL

Two years have passed since Bancroft first hit our screens, with Sarah Parish starring as a ruthless and psychopathic police boss with a big secret.

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The drama centred around our anti-heroine, Detective Superintendent Elizabeth Bancroft (Parish), and her young colleague DS Katherine Stevens (Faye Marsay). Katherine had been given a cold case to solve, and she was determined to find out who really killed Laura Fraser (Lily Sacofsky) back in 1990.

Faye Marsay in Bancroft, ITV Pictures, SL

But, as we soon found out, Bancroft herself was connected to this case. Specifically, she was Laura’s killer.

Throughout much of the series, we were led to believe that Bancroft had been in love with Laura’s husband Tim (Linus Roache) who was her best friend from university. But the series finale dealt viewers a major twist after it was revealed that Bancroft had been in love with Laura instead. The pair had a love affair before Laura announced she was pregnant with Tim’s baby and dumped Bancroft, with some particularly cruel words; Bancroft stabbed her in a frenzy, leaving her dead on the kitchen floor.

In an effort to protect herself from exposure all these years later, Bancroft set about befriending Katherine and involving herself in the investigation; she even set Katherine up with her own son Joe Bancroft (Adam Long), leading to a complicated on/off relationship between the two as Katherine still had feelings for her colleague and ex-lover DS Andy Bevan (Charles Babalola).

Our anti-heroine was a master of manipulation and always seemed to be one step ahead, tampering with evidence and trying to frame Laura’s husband Tim. When her retired ex-boss Charlie Haverstock (Kenneth Cranham) said he’d decided to help Katherine re-investigate the case, Bancroft killed him too.

Katherine eventually developed suspicions about Bancroft. She teamed up with forensic scientist Dr Anya Karim (Amara Karan) and together they worked out that Bancroft was the killer. But how would they prove it?

Adam Long in Bancroft, ITV Pictures, SL
Adam Long in Bancroft (ITV)

Katherine got back together with Joe and slept with him again just to obtain his DNA, hoping the familial link would match with evidence from the crime scene and incriminate his mum; by the series finale, she was raising the alarm to Superintendent Cliff Walker (Adrian Edmondson).

Meanwhile, Bancroft was tasked with bringing down Atif Kamara, a ruthless crime boss ruling the Highwater Estate. Ending his reign would massively improve her chance of promotion. To this end, Bancroft captured Daanish Kamara (Ryan McKen) and persuaded him to inform against his older brother Atif, while Daanish’s wife Zaheera (Anjli Mohindra) and young son went into witness protection.

At this point, forensic scientist Anya Karim confided she was an old friend of Zaheera from their childhood together on the Highwater Estate, and that she’d been to see her at her secret flat. So Bancroft – seeking a way to get Anya out of the picture – firebombed the flat and framed poor Anya for leaking the address. Anya was immediately fired and discredited.

Then, in the finale, Bancroft found a clever way to get rid of Katherine. During an armed raid on Atif’s gang, she engineered a situation where Katherine would stumble on Atif by herself; Atif shot Katherine in the chest. Atif was then killed, and Bancroft stepped out of the shadows – not to save Katherine, but to shoot her in the head.

Bancroft then pinned the crime on Atif by placing the gun in the hand of his dead body.

But there was a potential flaw in Bancroft’s plan! Because, despite a bullet to the head and chest, Katherine remained (just about) alive and in a medically-induced coma. And that’s where we left her at the end of series one. Did she survive??

Meanwhile, Katherine’s old mentor Cliff – finally believing that Bancroft had killed Laura Fraser – tried to bring her to justice, but was hampered by internal politics. And when he brought up the DNA evidence from Joe, Bancroft pulled a trump card; she claimed that her son Joe’s real father was actually Tim Fraser, and therefore the DNA connected Tim to the scene rather than pointing just to her.

Bancroft seemed to have succeeded. She was given a promotion and plenty of praise for her heroics in bringing down Atif, she struck a deal with new gang leader Daanish to control crime in the area, and Cliff’s career was in free-fall.

However, her beloved son Joe Bancroft now knew the truth: that his mum was a murderer who had probably killed both Laura Fraser and Katherine Stevens. He left home and cut all ties, an utterly devastating event for Elizabeth Bancroft.

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Bancroft series 2 begins on 1st January at 9pm on ITV. Series 1 is available on BritBox now