fri 14/06/2024

Quirke, BBC One | reviews, news & interviews

Quirke, BBC One

Quirke, BBC One

Dublin goes noir as Benjamin Black's novels come to the screen

Pubs, rain and suspicious deaths: Gabriel Byrne stars as 1950s pathologist Quirke

They’re calling it Dublin noir and, on first showing, there’s something very stylish about the BBC’s new three-part drama starring Gabriel Byrne. Pubs and cigarette smoke and long, smouldering looks help the cause. There’s plenty of rain too, and a lot of grey and blue in John Alexander’s film, broken up by flashes of colour and arresting, unusual camera angles.

Based on the books by John Banville (writing as Benjamin Black), Quirke boasts an impressive cast including Michael Gambon and Geraldine Somerville, with screenwriting duties shared by Andrew Davies, who penned this episode, and Conor McPherson. First outings need to hook us with a storyline but also make us want to spend time with the characters, and with Byrne in the title role there’s more than enough to hold our interest. His Quirke, a 1950s Irish pathologist, is a masterclass in less-is-more (below, Byrne with Michael Gambon).

Intense and brilliant, the doctor has his own enigmatic backstory which makes his investigation into the death of a young woman all the more intriguing. After a party in the nurses’ quarters, Quirke reckons he’ll kip down for the night in his pathology lab. To his surprise, he finds his adoptive brother, Malachy Griffin (Nick Dunning, excellent in the role), completing paperwork for a recently deceased patient, Christine Falls.

Malachy is clearly hiding something and when Quirke returns the next morning, Christine’s body is gone. Suspicious, he performs a post mortem himself and finds the real cause of death, not the one Malachy would have him believe.

There’s no love lost between these two. Malachy tells his wife Sarah (Geraldine Somerville) that he doesn’t expect Quirke to turn up for the reception in honour of their father, a city judge (Gambon): "He’d rather be propping up the bar than celebrating his father’s honour." In seeking answers, Quirke not only wants justice for Christine but rattles an already complicated framework of relationships within his own family. The scenes with Gambon and Somerville – both outstanding – are pure gold.

When Sarah bumps into Quirke in the street, he asks her if she’ll walk with him. Her eyes say there’s nothing she’d like more but she replies "No", and we’re left to wonder what this bond is between them. It can’t be hidden and is like a dark Dublin cloud hanging over her marriage with Malachy.

With two more episodes to come, Black, Davies and Byrne are tapping into a sub-genre of television crime already populated by the highly successful Foyle’s War, Inspector George Gently and the Morse prequel, Endeavour. Quirke’s world has more of an edge though, and after this first glance you can count me in.

Quirke not only wants justice for the deceased Christine but rattles an already complicated framework of relationships within his own family


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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I was away when this started, but I read the negative comments about mumbling. I caught up last night,and I dismiss the criticism, it is excellent, and at low volume I heard EVERY word. Can't wait for the next episode!

I've submitted a comment yesterday but is not displayed ~ WHY?

Caught Part 1 of this on Sunday ~ Really enjoyed the Irish Noir. Gabriel Byrne is excellent as Quirke with a 'fag on the go' and the drug of choice~ #Irish Whiskey in the rain sodden streets of 1950's Dublin. He looks like he carries the weight of the world on his shoulders, but nonetheless, impresses as a compassionate, caring individual who probably has a brilliant mind and a #calling for the work he does. Gabriel Byrne has an aura of the #slowburn about him and he is without doubt a compelling actor. Conor McPherson adapted the book with Andrew Davies ~ his hand is all over it... Can't wait for Part 2. This has inspired me to read the books....

I must have exceptionally good hearing because I had no issues with the sound quality. I see some criticism re dark lit sets but they are in a darkly lit morgue, dark lit pubs and dark streets in 1950's Dublin. The voices were lowered to convey the quiet, almost secretive conversations which took place. I do accept the point that the viewer needs to hear the spoken word. A #Quirky take on Quirke....I liked it but then I'm into Irish Noir.. thought Gabriel Byrne gave a nuanced performance~ I really like the character and he's a far better man than the assembly of t**ts around him! Michael Gambon stoops to a new low? Oh, when we practice to deceive~ no good can come of it. Interesting plot line but not thoroughly convinced that Sister Mary was a nun or indeed that the Bostonian Father was in fact a 'man of the cloth'.~ Oh, the sisters of mercy, they are #NOT...Set in 50's Dublin, I was not surprised to see the good girls gone bad in the Nunnery, the all pervading shame of the Catholic guilt and the #hush hush of the patter of tiny feet, whisked off at birth and adopted to goodness know's where~ Boston USA in this case. A complex interweaving of relationships from the past converging and impacting on each other. I think Quirke looks extremely promising....

Enjoying the first episode immensely but I must say, as someone Boston, MA born, that many of the accents are reminiscent of Dick Van Dyke's mangling of Stepping Time..

Superb all worked and so also reading the books. I think the Bbc would be mad not to continue with this series. The characters are so realistic ....just like the books, feel like a knowing fly on the wall!

Excellent show. High production value. Noirish. Gabriel Byrne is such a fine actor. Very interesting story line that could certainly continue for more seasons without wearing thin. We hope they do more seasons!

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