“BBC drama Sherwood turns folklore into compelling murder mystery” – Sara Wallis

Deadly arrows flew through Nottingham – no, please don’t make Robin Hood jokes, Sherwood villagers on TV don’t appreciate that.

The BBC1 drama turns folklore into a compelling murder mystery, delving into a community broken by a long history of the rich stealing from the poor – and not a green-feathered bonnet in sight (in fact, Sunetra Sarker’s Sheriff of Nottingham wears one in the first episode, but it’s more Marks & Spencer than Kevin Costner).

The six-part thriller, in a weekly double dose, focuses on two shocking murders, a fractured neighborhood and a massive manhunt – all inspired by real events.

Writer James Graham grew up in the mining district of Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, where two horrific murders took place in 2004, inspiring this fictional tale.

The result is a wonderful blend of Broadchurch-style small-town whodunit, and also Whydunit, simmering with political tension stretching back decades.

An extraordinary wishlist cast takes this story and follows it. David Morrissey, Joanne Froggatt, Robert Glenister, Alun Armstrong, Lesley Manville, Kevin Doyle, Adeel Akhtar, Claire Rushbrook, Lorraine Ashbourne, Stephen Tompkinson…every scene is an “Oh they’re in!” moment.

It opens with archival footage from the 1980s miners’ strike featuring labor leader Arthur Scargill and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, immediately reminding us of a painful moment in history.

Back in the present, in an old pit village, it’s a celebratory time (never a good sign in a TV drama) as local Conservative councilor Sarah Vincent (Froggatt) marries Neel Fisher (Bally Gill).

But the murder of former striking miner Gary Jackson (Armstrong) – with an arrow through the heart – brings tension.

DCS Local boy Ian St Clair (Morrissey) is called in to investigate, uncovering numerous suspects and motives.

Special mention for a notoriously dubious clan called the Sparrows and a teenager whose hobby is archery.

In the second episode, there is friction between Tory Sarah and her new stepfather Andy (Akhtar), who proudly displays a Labor poster in his window.

He is a grieving widower, who almost hit an arrow, when she is irritated by his mere presence.

When Sarah snipes that his wife committed suicide because she was “dying inside”, he grabs one of his expensive new garden shovels and hits her over the head.

In reality, a crossbow murder of ex-miner Keith Frogson was followed 11 days later by newlywed Chanel Taylor shot dead by her abusive father.

A layered drama, with multiple subplots, two grisly murders, and one foot firmly in a troubled past, it’s scary, clever, and inescapable.

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