Director – Suri Krishnamma, Teleplay – Tom Needham, Producer – Ian White, Photography – Tony Coldwell, Music – Colin Towns, Special Effects Supervisor – Colin Gorry, Makeup Designer – Samantha Marshall, Production Design – Grant Montgomery. Production Company – Granada Television/ITV Productions
Jemma Redgrave (DI Eve Granger), John Hannah (Jake Osbourne), Matthew Kelly (Brian Wicklow), Pauline Quirke (DCI Hazel Norton), Ace Bhatti (DI Ajay Roychowdury), Phil Davis (DI Ted Radcliffe), Clare Holman (Sara Taylor), Russell Brand (Ally Parkins), Edmund Davies (Chris Taylor), Jeni Howarth Williams (Tracey Radcliffe), Andrew Sheridan (Nick Taylor), Nikki Sanderson (Lara), Rachel Priest (Jackie), Philip McGinley (Peter Frost)
Eve Granger is assigned to reopen an investigation into the six-year old case of intellectually handicapped boy Chris Taylor who was convicted of murdering a girl. Public pressure has had the conviction overturned because it was believed that Chris was railroaded and beaten into confessing by local police. Eve and Ajay interview the witnesses from the original investigation but they offer conflicting statements. At the same time, Eve’s relationship with Jake Osbourne grows deeper. Jake is then stalked by Ally Parkins, a man who wrote to him in jail and Jake replied to thinking he was corresponding with a woman. Meanwhile, Brian Wicklow is stabbed while showering and rushed to hospital. Eve cannot be sure if this is not something that Wicklow has staged. While talking to him, Wicklow deduces that Eve is involved with Jake and starts a series of taunting psychological games that make her doubt her feelings.
Cold Blood (2005-6) was a British tv drama that originally aired as two tv movies each rather confusingly called Cold Blood. Jemma Redgrave was a police detective sent into talk to serial killer Matthew Kelly who ended up playing a series of nasty psychological games with her. Both of these were an excellent duo of films, one of the better efforts to copy the basic set-up of The Silence of the Lambs (1991).
At the time I reviewed Cold Blood, I made the comment that the ending had been left open-ended but it was difficult to see how the basic premise could be stretched to fill an entire series. The Cold Blood films were continued with three further tv movies aired in 2007, Cold Blood: Interference here, followed by Cold Blood: Dead and Buried (2007) and Cold Blood: The Last Hurrah (2007). Tom Needham, who penned the first two instalments is again present as writer, while Jemma Redgrave, Matthew Kelly, John Hannah and Ace Bhatti all reprise the roles they played through the first two films. Added to the regular mix is the always quirky Pauline Quirke as the chief detective.
To his credit, Tom Needham follows the storyline left open at the end of Cold Blood (II) about the future of Jemma Redgrave and John Hannah’s relationship, which the story here starts to tentatively dance around. One of the more interesting new characters is that of Ally (Russell Brand) who maintained a mail correspondence (and it is implied romance) with John Hannah while he was in jail where he wilfully blurred the line to let Hannah think he was a woman and who now turns up as a stalker. Russell Brand’s initial appearance, where he shrugs off John Hannah’s rejection with lines like “If you want me to be a woman I can be … I think the least I could get is a kiss” hits an amusingly disturbed note, all the more for the way Brand tosses it off with casual understatement.
The great disappointment about Interference is that it abandons most of what made Cold Blood‘s (I) and (II) work and is for the most part lacking in the razor sharp tensions and psychological games of the originals. Except for a few moments near the start, Matthew Kelly’s Wicklow is confined to a hospital bed and only appears sporadically throughout. There are a couple of scenes where what made the first two Cold Blood‘s work emerges as we see Matthew Kelly intuitively deducing the nature of Jemma Redgrave’s relationship with John Hannah and taunting her about her refusal to want to know the truth about what Hannah did.
The bulk of Interference is centred around Jemma Redgrave and Ace Bhatti investigating a rather mundane mystery about whether an intellectually handicapped teenage boy was responsible for a murder that he was convicted for. Here the psychological tension of Cold Blood has been reduced to no more than an episode of a British rural crime drama like Bergerac (1981-91), Hamish MacBeth (1995-7) or Midsomer Murders (1997– ). Even as a murder mystery, it is a story that lacks any real tension. One of the more implausible parts is the need to have to wind in John Hannah’s character – when the stalker appears, Pauline Quirke improbably decides, rather than to order police protection or relocation, to take him to stay at the same hotel where they are staying for the course their investigation. Equally improbable, though he has the job of a furniture restorer, Jake has now become a brilliant psychological profiler solely as a result of spending several months cooped up with Wicklow, with dazzling insights not only into Wicklow’s motivations but also of the murders they are investigating. Why the police allow a civilian to take part in an investigation and why they do not have their own psychological experts on hand is one of the story’s major credibility gaps.
The biggest disappointment comes in that having effectively sidelined Matthew Kelly’s Wicklow for the bulk of the film, the main story that comes to the fore fails to be interesting enough. A degree of interest is engendered at the start of the investigation but ultimately the script fails to provide any satisfactory twists or revelations. [PLOT SPOILERS] Moreover, the ending eventually reached is a damp squib that never adequately explains what happened with the first murder or why both Jemma Redgrave and the boy’s mother arrived at the conclusion that he was the guilty party after all. We never even get to find out who stabbed Wicklow in the jail shower or why. The script is frustrating in its lack of proper murder mystery resolution.