Review: With a stellar cast and brilliant writing, BBC crime thriller Sherwood hits the bullseye in every way

As one of Thatcher’s children, there are certain touchpoints I can remember clearly from my formative years – the Falklands, the poll tax riots, and the miners’ strike.

By Philip Cunnington
Friday, 17th June 2022, 5:00 pm

Memories of Scargill and MacGregor, Orgreave and the winter of 1984-85, when families across the north and midlands struggled to get by, informed the new BBC drama Sherwood (BBC1, Mon/Tues, 9pm) which brilliantly laid bare the faultlines of the year-long dispute, which still split communities to this day.

Writer James Graham grew up in a Nottinghamshire mining town during the strike, and you can see his intimate knowledge of the grudges held by opposing sides in the bitter fight between Scargill’s NUM trying to hold the picket lines, and the breakaway UDM, the Notts-based union which wanted to end the strike.

Echoing a real-life case from Graham’s home town, ex-miner Gary (Alun Armstrong) is killed with an arrow – any Robin Hood jokes are crushed by DCS St Clair (David Morrissey), the copper investigating the case.

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David Morrissey (right) and Terence Maynard investigate in Sherwood

“Were there any ongoing disputes?” St Clair asks Gary’s widow Julie (Lesley Manville). The trouble is, Gary was the kind of dyed-in-the-wool union man whose entire life was an ongoing dispute, so there is no shortage of suspects.

The cast is full of big names, and the writing is knotty and full of menace as our suspects are introduced. By the shocking conclusion of episode two, you’re hooked. Sherwood is first-rate crime thriller – add its examination of how deep trauma runs and the appalling consequences it can have generations later, and you have one of the best dramas so far this year.

The science behind sci-fi thriller The Lazarus Project (Sky Max, Thurs, 9pm) went over my head, but the fiction part proved compelling enough, and posed one of those hypotheticals which could keep you debating for weeks – if you could go back in time to save a loved one’s life, would you, even if it meant disaster for thousands of others?

The Boys (Amazon Prime, new episodes Fridays) is really hitting its stride in this third series. The superhero satire is funny, ultra-violent and scatalogical, but it always has something interesting to say about the way power – whether super or political – corrupts those who wield it.

Alun Armstrong and Lesley Manville play Gary and Julia Jackson in the new BBC crime thriller Sherwood