The Body Farm Review: Back From (Waking) The Dead

THE BODY FARM: Tuesday 13th September, BBC1, 9pm

As one of the millions of viewers who mourned the loss of Waking the Dead, up there with the BBCs most successful crime dramas ever, I was keen to get stuck into the first episode of new spin-off series The Body Farm. And get stuck in I did.

The filth, blood, flies and maggots of this new drama ooze out of each shadowy scene and I felt as infested with them as the hapless victims who are brutally slain throughout the episode. I genuinely felt like I needed a bath by the end of it all.

One grisly suicide, a double rape and the insides of two young teenagers found plastered over every conceivable surface of the bathroom in a tower block flat does not make for ideal teatime viewing…but the gruesome crime scenes and explicit reconstructions are tempered by some odd characters making it daft but amusing viewing.

The first episode of this gritty six-part forensic crime series re-introduces viewers to Eve Lockhart (Tara Fitzgerald), the pathologist from Waking the Dead. This time around she is sans Trevor Eve on-screen but he has been working hard behind the scenes to co-produce the series and his influence can certainly be felt.

Like Waking the Dead, the psychology of the murderers and suspects are examined and dissected with the same rigour as the corpses, saving the whole thing from being an unashamed gore fest. But Lockhart was a little too ready to play psychologist for my liking. Flitting between cold, hard scientist and husky-voiced confidant to borderline psychotic teenagers does not make for a convincing mix this early in the game. Though with six episodes to go there is hope for her slightly confused character yet.

The eternally furrowed brow of DI Hale (Keith Allen) keeps a careful watch over the investigative efforts of Lockhart and her dedicated team of pathologist sidekicks. He does impressed-but-wary to perfection while Lockhart and her hands-free helpers leave him well out of the loop as discoveries are made and transmitted instantaneously using ear pieces and other hi-tech equipment. “I am in charge of this investigation, you knowâ€? he pleads…bless!

The last 15 minutes were where things began to unravel slightly for me. Everything was wrapped up in a brief but rather unsatisfying whirlwind of blue-tooth communications, videophone footage and secret cameras. A 90 minute first episode, as was originally billed back in April, would have made more sense.

But I found myself wanting to know more about the dark secrets hinted at within Fitzgerald’s stony-faced, cigarette-smoking Lockhart; a character we all know–but don’t. I am a huge crime fan and this sinister series promises to provide welcome relief from the jokes about dentures and hair loss we have come to expect from the likes of the boys from Monday night’s New Tricks. All hail the return of the gruesomely gripping weeknight thriller.