What Remains: House of secrets

What RemainsI’m very much enjoying the BBC’s four-part drama What Remains, and not only because it has the wonderful Steven Mackintosh in it. It’s mysterious and gripping and there are great acting performances all over the place.

In last week’s opener, seven months’ pregnant Vidya and her partner Michael (Amber Rose Revah and Russell Tovey) moved into a flat in a big Victorian house, and found something nasty in the attic – the mummified corpse of the woman who used to live in the flat above them. David Threlfall’s DI Len Harper – wouldn’t you know it, on his very last day at work before retiring – is called in to have a look, but as there’s little forensic evidence to be had and no one seems to know much about the deceased, the police don’t think it’s worth following up. Len does, though, based on a bit of old-school instinct, and he carries on investigating even after he’s officially retired.

What RemainsThere are inevitable comparisons to Broadchurch in the way that the whole community (in this case, the residents of the house past and present) is under suspicion. In episode two, the finger of suspicion was pointing very firmly in the direction of stroppy Elaine Markham (Indira Varma) and her photographer girlfriend Peggy (Victoria Hamilton). There’s a feeling that Peggy feels more empathy for the dead girl than most – could it have been a crime of passion? Then there’s the mysterious schoolteacher/caretaker who lives on the ground floor. The other residents think he lives alone, but newcomer Michael knows different.

Everything is shot with a sickly, green hue and the house seems like a character itself, from the outside always shot from ground level and seeming to loom menacingly, and from inside all skewed angles, shadows, hidden corners and flaking paintwork. Flashback scenes are gradually filling in some of the background of the dead girl, Melissa. There are two episodes to go, and lots of secrets still to be exhumed.

The first two episodes are available to watch on iPlayer.

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