Sherwood is a little diamond in the rough

Monday: Sherwood - (BBC One, 9pm)

Scott Rowley, Ian St Clair and Julie Jackson
Scott Rowley, Ian St Clair and Julie Jackson

Sometimes we can grow tired of crime dramas.

They can feel a little bit, well, stale and samey, so we know what to expect – a gloomy setting and a grisly murder solved in about an hour by a detective with a troubled past.

But every now and then, there’s a little diamond in the rough, and Sherwood looks like being one of them.

It’s the brainchild of James Graham, the acclaimed, award-winning playwright whose previous TV work includes Quiz, The Crown and Brexit: The Uncivil War. It’s also a project close to his heart – the story takes place in the Nottinghamshire pit village where he spent his formative years.

What’s more, it’s loosely inspired by real-life events, tying together what happened in the local area during the miner’s strike of 1984 and two shocking murders in the present day.

“It means the world to have this opportunity to bring the voices of a community I grew up in to BBC One,” explains Graham. “So much is spoken about the divisions and difficulties in these ‘Red Wall’ towns, but they’re not always understood. I feel so honoured to be able to tell a fictionalised story about a very real trauma, but with the humour and heart and resilience of the people I know and love there.”

David Morrissey and Robert Glenister head the cast as former police colleagues reluctantly thrown together again. Morrissey is DCS Ian St Clair, who’s risen through the ranks of the Nottinghamshire constabulary. He’s a good and empathetic detective, but isn’t pleased about being paired with old rival DI Kevin Salisbury (Glenister), who’s travelled north from his position with the Met to supposedly help him find a link between the killings.

Salisbury’s appearance also heightens the tensions running through the community, which stem back to 1984. He was around when the local miners turned on each other; some, including committed NUM member Gary Jackson (Alun Armstrong), stayed on the picket line, while others returned to work, dubbed ‘scabs’ by their colleagues.

Also at loggerheads are Gary’s wife Julie (Lesley Manville) and her sister Cathy (Claire Rushbrook). They fell out when the latter’s quiet, reserved husband Fred continued to attend his shifts.

Somebody else stirring things up is Yorkshireman Warnock (Stephen Tompkinson), who revels in the opportunity to reopen old wounds by suggesting what undercover officers from the Met got up to almost 40 years ago.

Executive producers Juliette Howell and Tessa Ross, who were behind last year’s brilliant mini-series Time, say of Sherwood: “James has written an extraordinarily powerful drama which has immense heart, wit and humanity – and, as ever with his writing, it’s a pertinent piece for our times.”

“In blending real and fictional events, James has created a penetrating, heartfelt and purposeful thriller which exposes the tensions and fault lines at the heart of modern Britain,” adds Piers Wenger, director of BBC Drama.

“Sherwood is set to be an exceptional series by one of our greatest dramatists and we are proud to be bringing it to BBC One.”