TV Review: Honour

A powerful couple of hours of TV, Gwyneth Hughes’ Honour is a fitting tribute to the shocking murder of Banaz Mahmod

“There’s no benefit to me in convicting the wrong person”

Gwyneth Hughes may be deservedly having a moment due to the extraordinary impact of Mr Bates vs The Post Office but the truth is she’s been making great TV for many years. Honour dates back to 2020 and demonstrates Hughes’ undoubted skill to retell truelife stories with real empathy and clarity, probing beyond just the headlines to reach the deeper truths that shape the narrative.

Here, the subject is the disappearance and murder of Banaz Mahmod, an Iraqi-Kurdish young woman from South London but Honour is focused on the response, or lack thereof, of the police. We see events through the eyes of DCI Caroline Goode who takes this on as her first case, newly promoted and increasingly appalled as she discovers that Banaz had asked the police for help no less than 5 times before her death, her family seeing her kissing a boyfriend outside a tube station triggering her fear.

What follows is a slow unpicking of the layers of institutional racism, microaggressions and racial biases basked into the police force and in some ways society at large too, as the shocking deficiencies in the case so far are exposed and then readdressed. Goode and her team tackle the additional difficulties of trying to solve the truth of Banaz’ honour killing when her community are unsurprisingly so unwilling to co-operate with them, whether through their lived experiences with the police or the self-protective code of omerta.

Keeley Hawes is excellent as Goode, full of pained stillness as she navigates all the trickiness around her. Rhianne Barreto and Moe Bar-El as Banaz’s sister Bekhal and boyfriend Rahmat are achingly good, if a touch under-used, as the ripple effect of her murder and the following court case reverberate so powerfully (and sadly) through their lives too. Richard Laxton’s direction ensures nothing is sensationalised but equally, he never lets us forget how deeply racism permeates certain aspects of society with little hope of substantive change any time soon.

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