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Is Rellik supposed to be funny?

TV editor Alison Graham just can’t take this grim thriller seriously

Published: Friday, 9th February 2018 at 2:27 pm

A detective leading the hunt for a serial killer drives at high speed the wrong way along a motorway, almost ploughing into oncoming traffic as a means of terrifying a suspect sitting in the passenger seat into making a confession… Excuse me, kindly pass me the phone. [Dials]. Hello, is that the Independent Police Complaints Commission? There’s something you should know…


Would you mind holding the line, please, because we’re going to be here for some time discussing Rellik’s outrageously ridiculous, damaged, pain-wrenched, soul-bursting, weeping, angry, doesn’t-play-by-the-rules, problems-with-authority, psychologically and physically scarred Gabriel Markham (Richard Dormer).

Rellik (Monday BBC1) is laughably exhausting, with its tricksy time-frame switches – it stops and rewinds the action, I have no idea why. If I’m supposed to follow such a extravagantly outré plot device I need cats’ eyes, flares and writers Harry and Jack Williams yelling “Alison! Over here!” through a megaphone.

I must commend the Williams brothers (they wrote The Missing and Liar, which runs opposite Rellik on ITV on Mondays, and they are very clever boys) for being so flipping cheeky. Surely Rellik is a spoof? It can’t be meant to be taken seriously?

I yelped with laughter throughout the first couple of episodes. Like when Markham’s boss tells him, “You might want to sit this one out,” before a crucial interview. You don’t say. Markham is leading the hunt for the person who disfigured him. That’s right, he’s officially after his own attacker. (Hello, IPCC, are you still there? Can I patch the Crown Prosecution Service into a conference call?)

Come on, really? I know it’s a drama and procedural stuff probably bothers only crime nerds like me, but… what? He’s heading the hunt for the person who tried to kill him in an attack we have yet to see thanks to said tricksy plot device. “You shouldn’t be on this,” says his boss. No, he shouldn’t. He should be on indefinite sick leave before taking retirement. You’re his boss, how come you don’t know this?

Rellik has it all. Markham is the most dreadful human being, a moody bugger who probably was a moody bugger even before he was so badly disfigured. But that doesn’t stop a lovely, much younger (of course she is) woman from hurling herself at him like a mouse on a nice piece of Wensleydale. “I can see beneath the scars,” she tells him, caringly, after they’ve had rigorous sex up against the wall of her tastefully appointed flat. To what, the moody bugger beneath? Come on, love, you can do better. Yet he dumps her. Yes, he dumps her. Not the other way round. The cheek of it. Then he takes her back after she debases herself. Oh please.

The dialogue, too, is as ripe as a week-old banana. A suspect in the killings describes Markham’s police station as “smelling of budget cuts”. That’s now become my Phrase of the Week. Mmm, is that spag bol I can smell bubbling on the stove, or is it budget cuts?

Rellik is humourless and so flipping miserable it makes me want to sing with joy. In the first week it was awash with TV Crime Drama Rain that pounded down as Markham did that thing that no one ever does in real life, looked directly up at the sky and let the rain drench him.

There’s so much more to enjoy. The inevitable frequent shots of suburban trains thundering along tracks, the grotty blocks of flats, people staring into bathroom mirrors as if Looking At Their Very Souls. Priceless.


By Alison Graham


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