The fourth wall breaking might not be the thing but Nicola Walker is still Nicola Walker, as I get round to her newest detective show Annika
“I think death by harpoon suggests someone who’s trying to get a point across”
Based on Nick Walker’s BBC Radio 4 drama Annika Stranded, Annika premiered on cable crime channel Alibi in the summer of 2021 but received terrible word of mouth, from my circle at least, which meant that even though it starred the excellent Nicola Walker, I resisted the temptation. Over Christmas though and with the lure of my parents’ Sky subscription, I took the plunge into the icy Scottish waters in which it is set and…it turned out not to be quite that bad.
A large part of it is down to Nicola Walker doing what Nicola Walker does best, ie being Nicola Walker. Her wry Norwegian-born Detective Inspector Annika Strandhed is newly in charge of the Glasgow Marine Homicide Unit and so that ends up being the show’s USP, they go to attractive Scottish locations on a speedboat and find crime scenes. And as personal life issues of some sort are de rigueur, she has a stroppy teenage daughter in tow.
So truth be told, it isn’t necessarily the most ground-breaking detective show. Shetland has better scenery, Unforgotten had better character depth and Annika has an annoying habit of breaking the fourth wall, which Walker sells perfectly well, but it is perilously close to being too arch. There’s much more mileage in her interactions with a new team including blokes with a past with her, the tribulations of her daughter acting out, and flirting shamelessly with the therapist she packs her off to.
Does Annika make its case in an extremely crowded crime marketplace? Probably not tbh, though it is eminently watchable. Jamie Sives, Katie Leung and Ukweli Roach are good fun as the team around the innate charm of Walker (the actor), Kate Dickie should be given more to do as their boss. The plotting by Walker (the writer) could afford to push harder though or do something a little more adventurous to stand out dramatically.