Vigil review: It’s no Line Of Duty, but Jones makes impact


HOT and cold-running jargon, a nerve-shredding score, shadowy forces at work, but no Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and the wee donkey. Hang on, I thought this new Sunday night thriller hailed from the makers of Line Of Duty? 

We know its parentage because the BBC has been endlessly advertising it. Yet, five minutes in, it is clear there was no need for the hard sell, because Tom Edge’s crime drama is the biz all in its own right.  

It is maybe not enough yet to make up for Line Of Duty’s duff ending, but Suranne Jones as a cop working a case aboard a submarine, and our own Martin Compston in a beard?

No-one is going to give this set-up Das Boot, particularly after a corker of an opening episode.  

Jones plays DCI Amy Silva, a Police Scotland officer who is called on board HMS Vigil after one of the crew is found dead. Vigil is not just any submarine: it is a Trident nuclear sub, which adds politics, domestic and international, into an already tension-fuelled mix. 

It is another world to Silva, one where she, as a civilian police officer and a woman, is made to feel unwelcome. 


In her corner, and on dry land, is DS Kirsten Longacre (Rose Leslie from Game Of Thrones sporting a perfect Scottish accent). With both women hitting a wall of secrecy at 
every turn, will they ever find out what has been going on aboard the troubled Vigil? And if Silva spends any more time down there might she too grow a beard?

Edge has done his homework, with his HMS naval base and peace camp more than passing muster as the real thing. The production design is top drawer, lending the piece the look and feel of a movie. If, like Silva’s character, you have trouble with confined spaces then best open all the doors and windows before watching. The sub, shot from the outside, is a thing of throbbing menace and silken beauty, cutting through the deep like some whale of death. 

Read more: Alison Rowat’s TV review: Baptiste; The Handmaid’s Tale; Sixteen: Class of 2021; Mastermind

Similarly first class is a cast that also includes Shaun “Endeavour” Evans and Paterson Joseph (The Beach), playing an iron fist in a velvet glove captain. The writing is confident enough to allow some much-needed humour in to cut the tension. Asked how her arrival on the sub had gone, an unimpressed Silva says she was thrown out of an aircraft with her luggage tied to her. “Still, better than Ryanair,” quips her naval escort. 

Jones is terrific, her character’s tough demeanour making up for some as yet unaccounted for sadness. 

Glasgow looks bright lights, big city fabulous, with Silva’s home one of those west end numbers an honest cop could never afford. But we’ll buy that for now, and not look too closely at a couple of slightly contrived plot strands, in return for getting to the bottom of this one. 

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992