tue 16/07/2024

Rellik, BBC One review - tricksy procedural messes with time | reviews, news & interviews

Rellik, BBC One review - tricksy procedural messes with time

Rellik, BBC One review - tricksy procedural messes with time

How long have you got to watch Richard Dormer's disfigured cop hunt down a psychopath?

Marked man: Richard Dormer as DCI Gabriel Markham in 'Rellik'BBC/New Pictures/Joss Barratt

There are two Williams brothers – Jack and Harry – who are mainly known for two series of The Missing. No chance of the Williamses going missing. Quite the reverse. As of today – Monday 11 September – they seem to have cloned.

Two new drama series by the Williams boys have started on BBC One and ITV at exactly the same minute, and they will both conclude at the same instant six episodes later. One can only imagine that the writers begged and pleaded one or both channels to separate them in the schedules, but it didn’t happen and here we are.

On ITV there’s Liar. On BBC One, bid welcome to Rellik, a tricksy new police procedural whose signature is to muck about with the timeline. There’s a brief opening in which two men with gingerish hair – each seemingly as desperate as the other – are introduced as loners out on a rainy night. One raids a locked graveyard, the other grabs a four-pack from a garage. Then the film spools into reverse and we are returned, very precisely, to 10 hours and 28 minutes earlier. The action duly advances and soon goes back five hours and 10 minutes. And so on until you start asking, two hours and 35 minutes earlier than when exactly?Jodi Balfour in RellikThose two desperadoes turn out to have a link. Steven Mills (Michael Shaeffer) is suffering from a relapse in his mental health, and has become the prime suspect in a series of acid attacks and murders, to the latest of which his DNA is connected. Among his disfigured victims is DCI Gabriel Markham (Richard Dormer), whose face has been horribly scarred (full marks to the make-up department) but who is back on the job and happens to be the copper who corners Mills outside a school. Mills makes the mistake of putting his hand in his pocket. Pop go the marksmen.

Have they killed the wrong man? His wife seemed to think he wouldn’t harm a flea but by the end of the episode, after the time dial had shuffled back and forth, it was confirmed that blood was certainly on his hands. But there are other suspects afoot: a hospitalised woman (Rosalind Eleazar) who has form with acid and nipped out at the time of the murder and doesn’t seem to have an alibi. She’s implausibly fluent in psychoanalytical jargon who has been marked down by her shrink, she says, as “a narcissist with unfulfilled psychopathic ideation”.

Meanwhile Paul Rhys is playing someone entertainingly suspect in specs, who purred with pleasure as he boarded a plane just as the police stepped up the hunt for the killer. He’s in cahoots with a young lover but isn’t the only one: Markham has grounded his teenage daughter for a minor misdemeanour but is playing away himself with his inevitably attractive young colleague Elaine Shepard (Jodi Balfour, pictured above), though they’ve chosen this jumbled-up day to call it off. Also hanging about in the wings is Paterson Joseph (pictured below) as a psychiatrist.Paterson Joseph in RellikRellik (whose title, for no good reason, needs to be read in reverse) requires you to accept that Markham would be allowed to hunt down his own attacker. He displays barely any sign of internal trauma – “I’ll get better when I catch the fucker that did this to my face,” he snarls at his superior. But then he’s of a philosophical bent, eager to drill down to unearth the deep core of causes that motivates the malignant.

Is anyone else though? Is this zigzag plot which is so pedantic about its time shifts going to hang together and turn gripping? Maybe. But maybe you’ll reach a point where you’ll wish that you could spool back six weeks and one hour and watched Liar instead.


Rellik requires you to accept that Markham would be allowed to hunt down his own attacker


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Share this article


It's a gimmick. Weak story line, no policeman would be back at work so soon, not allowed to work on case. I think it's a bit cliched and silly.

Has no one noticed the irony of the title. No I don't mean the obvious reverse spelling of Killer but wondered if it was the intention of the writers to title it as they did because it ends with Gabriel being a Relic of his former self. Overthinking?

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters