Manhunt is a true crime UK series starring Martin Clunes as DCI Colin Sutton, a now retired Inspector (Senior Investigating Officer) with the London Police Department. The first season covered the crimes committed by serial killer Levi Bell and his apprehension. The second season covered the truly heinous and chilling crime spree of serial rapist Delroy Grant who terrorised the nation for over 17 years. I won’t focus on the details of the stories themselves which have been publicly recorded but want to discuss the actual productions. The criminals are real people who ran amok with their rampant crimes. In the case of Grant, he was a criminal with a clever modus operandi and a tell-tale signature. While Levi Bell was a clumsy killer, Grant was a sly and elusive predator.
For me the second season was the most moving and I almost did not watch it. Once I started viewing, I was riveted. There are no theatricals and dramatics here. The episodes unfold as if the audience is shadowing the Inspector and his team themselves. The daily drudge of finding clues, only for these to be dead ends, the wearing boredom of stakeouts which are never as exciting as the movies, the sheer inability to catch the guy, which led to low morale and depression, and the lack of manpower. The elusive nature of Delroy Grant, with his cunning almost-fox-like ability to sense when the police were about to pounce, the suspense and tension when they just miss him was palpable.
The nature of Grant’s crimes was heart-breaking. He preyed sexually upon the elderly and the vulnerable, women and men; people who would perhaps not speak up about what really happened because of shame, belonging to a generation where the unspeakable was never spoken about. The actors portraying these elderly victims were phenomenal. I felt the rage and helplessness the police officers must have felt when they hesitatingly recounted their hideous experiences, some using old-fashioned terminology belonging to another era. I cried seeing these moving portrayals. These actors were so convincing that in the moment of watching, I believed I was seeing the real victims.
If you think you are going to see Doc Martin playing a cop, think again. Martin Clunes brings an incredible sensitivity to the role, much needed when gently asking a victim what happened, and knowing they can barely bring themselves to speak of the unspeakable. The always watchable Claudie Blakley plays his wife. The rest of the cast are stellar, no matter the size of the role being played. One can only imagine how each cast member felt when considering their own elderly parents and relatives. A very moving series that should not be missed.