Innocent - A Riveting Thriller That Taps In To Our Darkest Fears And Greatest Hopes

Abhishek Srivastava - 63 weeks ago

Innocent is not just a police procedural but also has emotional power which keeps viewers invested. The series was largely inspired by articles dealing with miscarriage of justice in Britain that cowriters – Chris Lang and Matthew Arlidge had read in various newspapers.

It was eleven years ago when Lydia, wife of British writer Chris Lang, had committed suicide leaving him widowed. When Lang got the news he was busy scripting The Palace, an ITV commissioned drama. He was crestfallen and future meant taking full responsibility of his three children. Chris was offered a pay-off by his employers but decided to resume work after a week of mourning. This incident also reflects the dedication and commitment Chris has towards his craft. Eleven years later, the commitment and dedication has paid off in a big way. He has come a long way from the days when he used to write comedies along with Hugh Grant. He is now one of the most sought after writers in Britain whose Unforgettable was recently green lit by ITV for its fourth season – an amazing feat. Though he might be best known for penning blockbusters like Unforgettable, The Tunnel and Dark Heart, it’s Innocent which sits atop and occupies a place of pride in his repertoire.

(Angel Coulby and Lee Ingleby in a still from Innocent)

Innocent is not just a police procedural but also has emotional power which keeps viewers invested. Two stories - one dealing with a personal tragedy involving two families and the second, a police procedural, intertwine in the most magnificent manner in this ITV drama. The four-part drama that aired on ITV in May last year deals with the story of a man who is accused of murdering his own wife but claims innocence. The arresting story coupled with the presence of British stars like Lee Ingleby, Hermione Norris and Daniel Ryan ensured that the drama was also the highest rated new drama of the year across all channels in UK. The unprecedented success of the series ensured that another season too is in the pipeline, the production of which begins next year. The series notched up an audience of 7.4 million for its debut episode and averaged close to 7 million for the entire series. In other words, almost everyone in the UK watched the series when it aired on ITV.

Lee Ingleby plays the pivotal role of David and remains the lifeline of the series. Lee was previously seen as sidekick, DJ Bacchus, in Inspector George Gently and as Nick Huntley in the breakout police drama Line of Duty. For the role of Davis, Chris Lang was in search of an actor who apart from being a star was also an ordinary guy. His search ended with Lee. Chris Lang had worked earlier with Angel Coulby for The Tunnel and was looking for an opportunity to work with her again. Similar to Coulby, Lang had worked previously with Hermione Norris in A Mother’s Son and during the shooting had realized that apart from her warmth, she also comes across as someone who cannot be messed with – a trait that gelled perfectly with Alice Moffatt (the role played by Norris).

Innocent remains different from other whodunnits. The thrill of mystery dramas comes from spotting the red herrings and keeping a constant vigil on the screen for any clues. While most whodunnits in the past haven’t really followed the grammar, the clues in Innocent feel satisfying in the end. Innocent was largely inspired by articles dealing with miscarriage of justice in Britain that cowriters – Chris Lang and Matthew Arlidge had read in various newspapers. The next step for them was to think of the families that suffered because of the judgement. Later they sat down to chalk out everything in the format of a thriller.

(On the set of Innocent with director Richard Clark and actor Hermione Norris) 

Filming of Innocent took place in Ireland, though the plot is rooted in Sussex coast. According to the makers, the setting of Sussex coast was earmarked keeping in mind the character of David (played by Lee Ingleby) who, though is now released from prison, is still trapped in the enormous space of the place. The appeal of Innocent is such that it’s not region specific and will appeal to international audiences in equal measure because of its universal theme. The success of Innocent has also been noticed by other countries and will be remade in French and German language. The Guardian in its review had dubbed Innocent as a series with ‘meltdown level performance and a propulsive pace’. Sunday Mirror had called it a ‘cracking drama’ while Sunday Telegraph focused on ‘compellingly acted’ performances of Lee and Hermione.

The death of his wife also made Chris understand the world better. In an earlier interview he had remarked that when life becomes fragile, one realizes that there are people dealing with the same thing every day and then one starts to understand people. “For the last 10 or 11 years, I have been writing about why people are damaged or weak or flawed and trying to have compassion for these things,” were Chris' words to a British newspaper.

Another factor that helped Innocent become popular was the fact that it only had four episodes and all four episodes were aired back to back from Monday through Thursday. The fact that Richard Clark helmed all the four episodes was also a departure from the conventional tradition where a regular series involves more than one director. The vision of the director carries a uniformity and the same vision is spread over all episodes. Innocent is a series which one cannot afford to miss as it gives an altogether different dimension to whodunits. In an earlier interview with Radio Times, Chris Land had poured his heart out and in one of his quote had beautifully summarized the essence of this gripping drama. “The reason we believe that story will speak to an audience is because it taps in to some of our darkest fears, and some of our greatest hopes.”

(Innocent is currently playing on myNK)


Lee Ingleby / Daniel Ryan / Adrian Rawlins / Hermione Norris / Angel Coulby / Chris Lang / Matthew Arlidge / Richard Clark / Unforgettable / ITV

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of The Film Hashery.

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