The Pact review: Laura Fraser leads strong cast in BBC thriller series - but first episode fails to inspire

Those looking for a guilt-free soap opera crime drama may have found a winner, but steer away if you want the meat and bones of some of BBC’s recent successes

**SPOILERS AHEAD**

Those looking to get their next Line of Duty fix will be left disappointed with the BBC’s latest thriller series, The Pact, but will perhaps find enough intrigue to move on to the next episode.

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Focusing on a group of four friends and colleagues at a Welsh brewery, the series follows Anna, Louie, Cat and Nancy as they become embroiled in a murder after a drunken prank on their new boss Jack goes wrong.

The series follows Anna, Louie, Cat and Nancy as they become embroiled in a murder (C) Little Door (The Pact) Ltd - Photographer: Warren Orchard

After putting their antagonistic jackass of a boss into the boot of their car, they transport him to a local forest to take compromising pictures of him, and leave him half naked with his hands tied behind his back.

On a guilt-filled return journey for Anna (Laura Fraser) and Louie (Julie Hesmondhalgh) to see if he’s okay, the pair discover Jack has died in the spot they left him, and fear the discovery of his body will lead to charges of manslaughter.

Committed to covering their tracks, the group make a pact of silence, choosing to return to work, and forget it ever happened. However, their plan seems doomed to fail when Anna’s husband Max (Jason Hughes) takes a position on the police investigation.

The female ensemble is the show’s redeeming quality, led by Breaking Bad star Laura Fraser and Coronation Street star Julie Hesmondhalgh. Following in the footsteps of female-fronted crime dramas of the last five years, the show may lack the polished finish and star power of the likes of Big Little Lies, but the four actors do a great job at keeping us guessing.

The Pact also provides an intriguing look at what post-Covid-19 TV may look like (C) Little Door (The Pact) - Photographer: Warren Orchard

The Pact also provides an intriguing look at what post-Covid-19 TV may look like, with show creator Pete McTighe (Doctor Who, A Discovery of Witches) choosing to place the drama in a post vaccinated world.

Hearing the phrase “after the year we’ve had”, mixed with jokes about the pandemic (one co-worker is referred to as “Covid Mandy”) is a comfort, and a good example of how TV writers may deal with shows set in the post-pandemic world over the next couple of years.

The show is littered with the ingredients for another potentially addictive crime show. However, McTighe’s script makes for awkward listening, and a cliched plotline will disappoint anyone looking to fill the Line of Duty-shaped - hole in their heart.

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The female ensemble is the show’s redeeming quality (C) Little Door (The Pact) - Photographer: Warren Orchard