by Kathleen Costa
BritBox continues to bring the best of British and beyond programming for a very reasonable membership fee (monthly $6.99; special annual $69.99). With a library filled with classic and contemporary series, telemovies, or feature-length movies, members can access online or on their app 24/7 with quality audio and video. When the news or network programming doesn’t provide the best entertainment, I find myself clicking the app and enjoying comedies like The Café, detective shows like Bergerac, dramas like MI-5, documentaries like The Beatles in India, and this month highlighting the career of Roger Allam (Endeavour, Murder in Provence) One exciting feature is the BritBox Original with programs like Cleeves’ The Long Call, MacDonald & Dodds, Mum, and new favorite Hope Street.
Hope Street (Season One 2022) is a character-driven drama situated on the coast of Northern Ireland focusing on the Port Devine police station and the Commodore pub. Detective Constable Leila Hussain (Amara Karan) has arrived from England, a young, seasoned detective, and the first, and only, Muslim member of the police force. However, it isn’t her ethnicity that causes the most interest, it is the answer she provides when asked why she took an assignment so far away from her home: a bad break-up, a desire for a fresh start. It is obvious from facial expressions and behind closed doors meetings that her boss, Inspector Finn O’Hare (Ciarán McMenamin), is privy to Leila’s predicament, but her new colleague Sergeant Marlene Pettigrew (Kerri Quinn) along a few close friends and family are suspicious and believe she’s hiding something. Police Constable Callum “Cub” McCarthy (Niall Wright), however, is more interested in the new blood she’s injected into the local dating pool.
Leila quickly gets introduced to the close friends and family who maintain their suspicions, but start to warm up to her pleasant, friendly manner. She made arrangements to rent a room in a local B&B which she is surprised to learn is run by Concepta O’Hare (Brid Brennan), Inspector Finn’s mother and one who turns out to be the best source of information on people and other goings on in the area. There she also gets to know her boss’s teenage children, Shay and Niamh. Next door is Barry “Baz” Pettigrew, once with the RUC Royal Ulster Constabulary, step-father of Sgt. Pettigrew, and now a minister and taxi driver, who also provides key insights into the locals, locales, and legal protocols. Everyone heads over to the Commodore to unwind where they fall into Clint Dunwoody’s (Aaron McCusker) and Nicole Devine’s (Niamh McGrady) pre-wedding, wedding, and return from the honeymoon drama. Leila and Finn are keeping quiet their own intimate relationship which gets more complicated when Finn’s estranged ex-wife enters the picture hoping to reconcile. Oh, sure, there are crimes to solve, too, from minor to major, but it’s how these events effect the community that drives the drama.
DC Hussain is gung-ho when a crime is being investigated earning the respect of her colleagues, but some of her methods, however, may be business as usual in Nottingham, but going outside the box to trap a perpetrator is often met with a “by the book” scolding from the Inspector. Illegal alcohol, robberies, suspicious deaths, trafficking women, assaults, fraud, and a kidnapping are solved with a successful arrest, but, in several cases, the resulting consequences are best served with compassion. The reason Leila is “hiding out” in Port Devine comes a-haunting putting her in serious danger, and the revelations make necessary some apologies from her colleagues whose actions may have blown her cover and caused the confrontation. This all strengthens the camaraderie, friendship, and working relationships between the friends and family…until connections, decisions, and misplaced loyalty converge into a personal harm cliffhanger and a need for season two.
Earns 5/5 Lighthouses! This is a new favorite with a superb ensemble around which the drama occurs. The cast doesn’t have many I immediately recognized, but they all use their craft well to take their role in hand and create an engaging show. The setting, although fictionally named Port Devine, is filmed in and around the picturesque Donaghadee often showcasing the iconic lighthouse. According to an interview in Wikipedia, co-creator Paul Marquess hoped to focus on “humour and warmth” and with the show’s fictional location near Belfast, he also wanted to avoid references to the Troubles focusing more on “the resilience of the community in Northern Ireland.” The family issues are prominent and realistically portrayed with a divorce, teenage angsts, various family dynamics, and lots of secrets kept hidden: relationships, sexual orientation, and parenthood. It is an excellent beginning to a new favorite!
Don’t Miss These BritBox Original Gems!
The Bay (2019-2022) is a drama set in northwest England in a seaside town of Morecambe, Lancashire, following the officers in the local constabulary including the police liaison officer. (Daniel Ryan, Marsha Thomason, Morven Christie) Earns 5/5 Kidnappings.
Traces (2019; 2022) is a drama set in Dundee, Scotland, at the fictional Scottish Institute of Forensic Science and Anatomy (SIFA) where three female forensic professionals work to “trace” the truth behind murder cases. (Molly Windsor, Laura Fraser, Jennifer Spence) Earns 5/5 Med Reports.
MacDonald & Dobbs (2020-2021) is set in Bath, England, partnering two very different detectives. Although Dobbs’ manner is odd and grates on the nerves of his superiors, MacDonald is slowly relying on his intuitive nature to uncover the truth. (Talia Gouveia, Jason Watkins) Earns 5/5 Crime Scene Tapes.
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