Martin Clunes and Celyn Jones star in MANHUNT, a three-part drama based on the real-life hunt for the killer of French student Amèlie Delagrange on Twickenham Green in August 2004.
This murder was then linked to the murders of Marsha McDonnell in 2003, as well as the murder of Milly Dowler in 2002.
ITV dramas are usually very dramatic and heroic with plenty of car chases, fights, suspense and Manhunt does not disappoint. As ITV’s first major drama of the year, Manhunt has taken a slightly different approach to retelling DCI Colin Suttons’ (Martin Clunes) hunt for murderer Levi Bellfield (Celyn Jones) - not only is it interesting but it is also poignant.
The drama opens with the murder of 22-year-old French student Amèlie Delagrange in 2004, she was killed after a night out in Twickenham. DCI Sutton was put in charge of the case which is his first major investigation and as he begins to piece together evidence. He instantly noticed similarities between an earlier attack and the unsolved murder of Marsha McDonnell in 2003. From here Sutton must face opposition from all around to prove his theory right.
Script writer, Ed Whitmore based this mini-series on Sutton’s memoirs which explains why the drama focuses so much on Sutton’s professional and personal life. Whitmore successfully recreated Sutton’s experiences without embellishing details and events for entertainment purposes. It is this quality that made the drama easy to identify with, it was realistic, and viewers could feel the desperation, anxiety and frustration of the investigation team as they try to catch the killer before he strikes again.
Clunes’ performance throughout the drama appeared to be solemn, empathetic and genuine. Viewers believed that Sutton’s aim was to catch a ruthless criminal, not for professional advancement but for the sake of the victim’s families, his community and to provide a safe environment for his teenage daughter. Jones’ performance is also deserving of praise as he portrayed Bellfield to be an erratic, violent, short-tempered and sleazy man who felt no remorse for his crimes.
Manhunt was a drama that didn’t aim to re-tell this true story in an entertaining manner but instead it showed viewers what the police force experience as they desperately try to catch a criminal.
Sutton was opposed by his fellow colleagues at nearly every turn, they didn’t believe in him, doubted him and even mocked him but he still managed to inspire them and gain their trust at the last hour. His superiors sometimes seemed more interested in appeasing the media than the actual investigation whilst Sutton worked tirelessly to prevent more murders, providing the people with reassuring facts and information.
This drama expressed DCI Suttons’ determination and dedication towards following his gut feelings even if he had to go against his superiors, colleagues, media and even his own family.
Manhunt although not traditionally gripping, was quietly passionate and viewers felt a thrill whenever Sutton come closer to catching Bellfield and there’s a sense of relief and pride when he finally puts Bellfield behind bars.
- Watched on ITV. 06/01/2019