‘The Missing’ returns to BBC One for its second series on Wednesday evening, and the first thing eagle-eyed viewers will spot is that there is no James Nesbitt.
To be sure, his heart-rending performance as the bereft father of a missing boy was central to the success of the first series, every line in his face creased with anguish and tireless through eight gruelling episodes.
However, the good news is - there’s plenty still to enjoy in this second series from writing brothers Harry and Jack Williams, namely…
French actor Tcheky Karyo: He’s back on duty as police detective Julien Baptiste, brought out of retirement to investigate the disappearance, and re-appearance, of two missing girls in Germany. He’s as humane, and despairing, as in the previous outing, and given a lot more ground to cover here - fortunately, the leg seems to have improved since the first series, but there’s still a hint of a hobble.
Keeley Hawes: As she proved so mesmerisingly in ‘Line of Duty’, Keeley has a lot more subtlety than her cover girl roles earlier suggested. Here, she is mother Gemma Webster whose world is thrown upside down with the reappearance of daughter Alice, for whom she grieved for more than a decade.
David Morrissey: In the role of Anna’s father Sam. In the throes of a cold marriage, with scars we’ve yet to lean about, David Morrissey is utterly unreadable. Good, bad, or both?
The atmosphere: Just as series 1 was brought to life in bleak northern France, so this story is illuminated by the unforgiving landscape of Germany, sweeping from school playground to army camp, via a road with only a solitary girl walking and a camper van alongside her.
The timeline: You have to keep your eyes peeled to work out what is happening when in this first episode, as the writers deliberately trick us with similar plotlines for two different girls. Need a bit of help? Keep an eye on Julien’s beard and the length of Keeley Hawes’ hair.
Ólafur Darri Ólafsson: Hurrah! Another small screen outing for Iceland’s finest, big grizzly bear of a leading man, last seen in BBC Four’s ‘Trapped’. Catch him here while you can, before Hollywood gobbles him up forever.
‘The Missing’ kicks off on BBC One on Wednesday 12 October, at 9pm.
The Fall (BBC Two)
The third and final series finds Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson pitted against serial killer Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan). With Spector captured and injured in the final scene of the second series, it’ll be interesting to see what writer Allan Cubitt does in this final run to round things off in a satisfying conclusion to a memorable trilogy.
Our Loved Boy (BBC One)
The story of Damilola Taylor and the aftermath of his senseless death, as told through the eyes of his grieving family in this feature-length drama. Their quest for justice sits alongside their personal battles with a cast led by Babou Ceesay and Wunmi Mosaku, in a story told with the support of Damilola’s tireless father Richard Taylor OBE.
The Missing Series 2 (BBC One)
Writing brothers Harry and Jack Williams (who also wrote ‘One of Us’) are back on more familiar ground of the trauma surrounding a missing child. No James Nesbitt in this one, instead we have David Morrissey and Keeley Hawes as a couple whose lives are overturned when their missing daughter returns after 11 years. The thing we’re most looking forward to? The return of Tcheky Karyo reprising his role of the compassionate detective Julien Baptiste.
Close To The Enemy (BBC Two)
‘One Day’s Jim Sturgess leads the cast in this six-part series set in a bomb-damaged London hotel in the aftermath of World War II. Sturgess’s Captain Callum Ferguson is an intelligence officer whose job is to persuade a captured German scientist to lend his skills to the RAF’s task of developing the jet engine. All is not as it seems.
Max Irons and Sam Neill star in this four-part mini-series, re-telling the story of Howard after and his discovery of the tomb of the most fascinating of Egyptian pharaohs. With Irons as Carter, Sam Neill plays his supportive patron Lord Carnarvon, who defies all doubt to keep Carter’s dreams of discovery alive.
David Tennant and Olivia Colman return for the final series of this haunting series, joined once again by Jodie Whittaker and Andrew Buchan as grieving parents Beth and Mark Latimer. Following the mistakes of the second series, writer Chris Chibnall instead focuses on a brand new case, with detectives Alec Hardy and Ellie Miller investigating a sexual assault, while the close Dorset community must once again deal with the unwelcome attention foisted on them.
The Halcyon (ITV)
The title refers to a five-star hotel in the centre of 1940 London society at a time of falling bombs and heightened emotions and fears. Steven Mackintosh and Olivia Williams lead a cast that also includes Kara Tointon and Alex Jennings.
Arguably the jewel in ITV’s winter schedule, this is an eight-part series exploring what happens when the murder of a mother in a school playground proves to be far less clear-cut than at first appeared. Neil Stuke, Indira Varma and Robert Glenister star.
Tina and Bobby (ITV)
The lady who can currently do no wrong, Michelle Keegan, stars as the wife of the revered England football captain, as they became the most recognisable couple of their generation. As the country got swept up in World Cup euphoria and by the Moores in particular, this most normal of couples must face some huge challenges. Alongside Michelle is Lorne MacFadyen as Bobby - Patsy Kensit and David Bamber also appear.
National Treasure (Channel 4)
Robbie Coltrane gives an ironically compelling turn as a huge entertainment star caught up in an historic sex allegation. As the police work their way through his complex life, those closest to the ‘national treasure’ must deal with the effects of secrets uncovered and loyalties tested. Julie Walters, Andrea Riseborough co-star.
Humans (Channel 4)
After the surprise phenomenon of Series 1, Gemma Chan and co return for a second series of compassionate sci-fi, exploring what happens when robots become loveable.
The Young Pope (Sky Atlantic)
Following a rapturous reception to its debut episode at the Venice Film Festival, Jude Law brings his troubled Pope Pius XIII to screen. The first American pope in contemporary times, the pontiff is a man of a great power who nevertheless fears losing those closest to him, and even being abandoned by his God. Alongside Jude, Diane Keaton, Ludivine Sagnier and James Cromwell star.