Who wants to think about murdered children on a weekday evening? A fair few of us, if the ratings are anything to go by. This week BBC1 and ITV have gone head to head with new crime dramas Mayday and Broadchurch: both with decorated casts and nuanced scripts that lift them above the standard police procedural; both previewed as the kind of event television that can seem antediluvian in an age of download and bargain box sets.
Mayday, which tracks the disappearance of 14-year-old Hattie as she is about to take the part of May Queen in her village's annual parade, stars Sophie Okonedo, Aidan Gillen and a fabulously overwrought Lesley Manville. It launched on Sunday – the first of five consecutive nights – with 6.2 million viewers and a 25% audience share; but lost out the following evening to the first of eight weekly installments of Broadchurch, which began with 6.8 million and a concurrent gush-in on social media. Coincidentally, both series are made by Kudos, the production company behind Spooks and, most recently, the bizarrely brilliant Utopia.
It has already been suggested that Broadchurch detectives David Tennant and Olivia Colman, investigating the death of a local boy in the eponymous seaside town, owe a debt to the Nordic noir plotlines that have dominated quality crime drama of late – although the scenery of Dorset's Jurassic coast, where the series was filmed, could give any fjord a run for its money, and, as Tennant proved on Monday night, it is difficult to be entirely sombre when you're eating a 99 ice cream.
READ MORE: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/mar/05/tennant-prime-time-suspect-mayday-broadchurch