Every episode of Before We Die is a rollercoaster

Wednesday: Before We Die; (Channel 4, 9pm)
Christian and HannahChristian and Hannah
Christian and Hannah

When it comes to broadcasting continental crime thrillers, few do it better (or as often) as BBC Four.

Its Saturday evening is usually given over to a double-bill of something tasty from France, Italy or, more commonly, Scandinavia. But Channel 4 doesn’t do too badly either.

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Many of its European shows can be seen on its streaming service All 4 via the Walter Presents strand, but in 2018, Swedish series Before We Die (or, to give it its original name, Innan vi dor) premiered on Channel 4 itself. It must have impressed somebody at the station because, three years on, the tale has been dusted down and given a British spin.

Taking the lead role of DI Hannah Laing is veteran star Lesley Sharp, who is no stranger to the crime genre – she spent five years playing DC Janet Scott in much-missed ITV series Scott & Bailey.

Hannah is, however, a different kettle of fish altogether. For a start, she’s older but not necessarily wiser. When we first meet her, she’s caught between a rock and a hard place, resulting in her being forced into making a terrible decision that could ruin her relationship with her troubled son Christian forever.

Christian has been working for the mysterious and tight-knit Mimica family. Originally from Croatia, they’re now settled in Bristol where they run a successful restaurant, a front for their more lucrative criminal enterprises. However, ruthless eldest son Davor isn’t satisfied; he’s ambitious and wants to expand the business – and he will take risks that put his relationships under intense pressure to get what he wants.

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Hannah, meanwhile, is distracted from her own family issues by the disappearance of her married lover, fellow police officer Sean Hardacre. She persuades her superiors to launch a manhunt and locates one of Sean’s confidential sources who may have valuable information regarding his whereabouts – if she hasn’t been silenced in the meantime.

“Every episode of Before We Die is a rollercoaster of excitement – and I’m so delighted to have Lesley Sharp bring her trademark gravitas and charisma to Channel 4,” says the broadcaster’s head of drama, Caroline Rollick, who commissioned the series. “It’s a privilege to be part of this truly inspiring European collaboration.

Executive producer Jo McGrath adds: “Before We Die is a powerful and original series which uses the grammar and architecture of a nail-biting crime thriller to tell the compelling emotional story of a mother and son’s dysfunctional relationship, beautifully juxtaposed against the close-knit ties of the crime family they are trying to bring to justice. Before We Die stands out as truly distinctive crime drama and I can think of no better actress than Lesley Sharp to bring this complex lead character to life.”

Sharp is reunited with one of her Scott & Bailey co-stars Vincent Regan, who has a supporting role here, appearing alongside Patrick Gibson, Bill Ward and Tony Gojanovic.

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