TV Review: The Pact (BBC1)

Julie Hesmondhalgh and Laura Fraser shine in The Pact, an excellent ensemble drama which twists and turns to its final beat

“This is Wales Gwen, not Los Angeles”

Ooh, well this was fun. Julie Hesmondhalgh has slowly but surely developed into the kind of actor I want to watch in everything she does. Her latest project started on BBC1 a couple of weeks ago but such is the way things are done these days, you can stream all six episodes of The Pact on the iPlayer now.

Written by Pete McTighe, it’s a murderous drama set by in a mid-Wales community where everyone knows each other. So much so that it’s best not to commit a major crime as your husband might end up being the one to investigates it. Such is the case for Laura Fraser’s Anna who, along with her best pals Nancy (Hesmondhalgh), Cat (Heledd Gwynn) and Louie (Eiry Thomas), plays a prank on their entitled a-hole of a boss, the ramifications of which unfold in ways which no-one could imagine.

Though it may be set in the valleys with an earthy sense of humour particularly in the police force there, The Pact’s spiritual home is actually somewhere loftier, campier, as though it flirts with the grit of Scandi-drama, the plotting tacks a little closer to soapier scandal. It kinda has to in order to accommodate the overall storyline but once you acclimatise to the tone, of daft decision-making alongside some genuinely dramatic twists, it works together really well.

As the closest pair, Fraser and Hesmondhalgh do much of the heavy lifting, particularly against their respective spouses Jason Clarke (the ever-appealing Warren from This Life) and Adrian Edmondson. But there’s strong work from Gwynn and Thomas to round out the differing dynamics of a group under real pressure, and from Abbie Hern too as Tish who finds herself latterly folded into the mix. Plus there’s scene-stealing work from both Rakie Ayola as the quirky investigating officer and a vivid Sophie Melville as the work colleague everyone loves to hate. 

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