Next of Kin relies a little too often on tropes to be the forward-thinking Muslim-centred drama it could be
“Don’t tell me you’re going to Lahore”
Paul Rutman and Natasha Narayan’s Next of Kin played on ITV back in 2018, splashing with the return of Archie Panjabi to TV after the mysterious unravelling of her brilliant time on The Good Wife. And over 6 episodes, she delivers a cracking performance as Pakistan-born, London-bred GP Mona Shirani who reels from the brutal murder of her brother and the subsequent suggestions of terrorism that plague her extended family.
The show opens strongly as it presents a refreshingly normal picture of British Muslim family life, a rarity in itself, so the choice to have them enmeshed in the suspicions of a terrorist network stretching from Lahore to London can’t help but feel a little regressive. There have to be so many different stories that could be told but there appears to be too much comfort in the wearingly familiar here.
There’s also a frequent tip towards melodrama which means Panjabi has to sell some extremely erratic actions that no right-minded GP (or anyone) would really do outside of the world of ITV thrillers. Which is a further shame as there is something deeply compelling about watching her trying to untangle the connections between her nephew, missing after his father’s death, the terrorists responsible for that murder and a wider web of family secrets.