Single-Handed Review: When’s The Craic?

SINGLE-HANDED: Thursday 14th July, ITV1, 9pm

It might just be me, but it just seems like every week another detective show appears (or in this case reappears) on our screens. I’m actually surprised there’s any space left in the TV schedules, but the nation’s love affair with the crime genre shows no signs of ending any time soon.

Yet what’s different about Single-Handed – now in it’s second series after the first averaged a very healthy four million UK viewers per episode – is that it’s made in Eire by an Irish production company and focuses on the antics of the Irish police force (or Garda as they’re called over the water).

Detectives like the Jack Driscoll tend to live in deserted crime hot-spots like this anonymous village in ‘West Ireland’ and as per usual, against all the odds, it’s all kicking-off in a rural community that makes Dartmoor look like Oxford Circus. In tonight’s series opener (which is the first episode in a two-parter) we witness the death of an old man – possibly killed for his tools – and suspicion is immediately cast upon the area’s renegade youth offenders, with one chased away from the crime scene before he gets stuck in a lazily-written Irish bog.

The show has been aired in fits and starts over in Ireland, where it has generally received a large audience share, but how it’s contract has been renewed in the UK is beyond me. It’s clear that the writers are going for a dark and brooding atmosphere, punctuated with raw memories and hardship, but it all gets mired down in the dullness of it all. It’s not so much a slow-burner as plain slow.

With acting more shocking than a pint of Guinness and blackcurrant, a tedious storyline and a location so remote and bleak that had me contemplating calling The Samaritans, Single-Handed is one of the poorest police show’s I’ve seen in a long time, and this is coming from someone who’s not only part Irish, but a massive fan of the crime genre. This should have been my favourite show!

Whilst the snail-paced drama may attract a 40% share of Irish viewers, sadly for this reviewer there was no ‘craic’ to be had here. An American remake is a long way off..