TV Review: Save Me (Series 1)

Over on Sky, Save Me turns out to be something rather brutally brilliant, written by and starring Lennie James, alongside an exceptional Suranne Jones

“I’ve just gone to see my dad”

Lennie James is billed as the creator of Save Me, as well as leading the cast alongside Suranne Jones, and it is a good thing he is up to the job as it has turned out to be a rather brutally brilliant series. Set in a tight-knit community in Deptford, it’s a clever take on the missing child genre that proved remarkably tense and completely gripping as it winds to a gut-punch of a conclusion.

James plays Nelson Rowe, Nelly to those that love him and it is clear that many do in this corner of South East London. He’s a total chancer, sleeping with any number of lovers, and balancing any number of side hustles in lieu of an actual job. But when the police come crashing through the door, everything changes. The daughter who he hasn’t seen since she was three has gone missing and she was on her way to see him, as her phone shows she’s been messaging with him for weeks.

From there, a hugely tangled web is woven, that is pleasingly complex and not too full of red herrings. Instead, James has chosen to focus on the chilling horror that comes with the realisation of just how seedy the underbelly of society can be, how sickening human behaviour can get. Without wanting to give anything away, it is undoubtedly a distressing watch but never gratuitous in its treatment of such a sensitive issue.

It helps that there’s an ace ensemble around him. Jones plays his ex Claire with beautiful restraint, someone who has got out of the estate and married up into suburbia, though you can see what drew her to The Palm Tree and its locals. Stephen Graham’s secretive Melon, Susan Lynch’s kindly Stace, Jason Flemyng’s cross-dressing Tam, even Alexander Arnold’s sneering student. Best of all, the superb Nadine Marshall as a DS who can see the wider picture, it’s a shame she’s not in it more. But a highly recommended watch nonetheless.

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