As you know, I often like to talk about films or TV shows I’ve seen and (usually) enjoyed here, but it’s not often I have to start with a disclaimer.
The drama series I’m about to talk about is the sort of thing I’d like anyway, but when there’s someone I know that is not just in it, but the lead actor, I feel you should know about that before I start waxing lyrical.
For a while now, on the back of succesful detective dramas like Broadchurch and Unforgotten (which I recently binge-watched the first two series of after the football had died), police dramas have been “Who Dunnit?”s, where the audience don’t know who the peretrator of a crime is, and try to work it out at the same time as the folks assigned with the task of bringing them to justice. Inevitably, there are multiple possible candidates, all bar one are red herrings we’re teased into catching, or blind alleys we’re directed up. These series invariably end with know-it-alls crowing on social media about how clever they are because they worked it out in the first episode. (They didn’t, they guessed and got lucky.)
Not so with Hidden – and as I write this, I am assuming that the final part, which airs on BBC4 tonight holds no massive surprise twists – a cop show, for want of a better term, where we know who the bad guy is pretty much right from the off, but where we follow the two police detectives as they slowly but surely grow ever closer to identifying the culprit, as they strive to reach the point where they know as much as we do, whilst also following the actions of the “bad guy”, his odd family, what he does next and why.
The show has already finished on Welsh-language channel S4C, on BBC Cymru and you can, of course, if you trust me, catch up with it all on th’iPlayer for a while.
Here’s the trailer:
There’s been much comparison between Hidden and Scandi-Noir dramas like The Bridge and The Killing, which I’d like to say was lazy criticism, but they do have a point; the pace is similar, they’re bilingual (at best), and in each of these dramas the location and the cinematography which captures it is practically an additional cast member. If you liked those shows, you’ll like this too, I recks.
Here’s the bare bones of the plot: DI Cadi John and her (work) partner, DS Owen Vaughan are called to investigate when the body of a girl who disappeared five years ago is found in a lake. Then a botched abduction takes place before another girl goes missing….
So, for the sake of transparency, the lead actor, playing DI Cadi John is someone I’m proud – and not just because of this, but because she’s genuinely lovely and moreover a bloody good laugh – to call my friend, Sian Reese-Williams.
I’ve known Sian for a while, a little over ten years. She doesn’t remember the first time we met, which tells you as much about me as it does about her. For a while in the early 2000s, I was sharing a flat with her brother and she, paying her dues as all actors have to, was ‘between jobs’, and ended up sofa-surfing at our place in Cardiff for a couple of weeks. During that time, I’d rented a copy of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and I
bunked off work took some time-owing one Friday afternoon to watch it. Sian was home, so we sat and watched it together, both trying not to blub about how wonderful it is (which, if you’ve never seen it, it is – wonderful, but weird). It’s one of my favourite films ever, partially at least due to that afternoon. Some tough times swiftly followed for all of us, still ongoing, and I kind of view that afternoon as a happier, more innocent time, the last time that everything was still ok.
Anyway. I flagged Hidden to my parents in advance because Sian’s in it. They watched it, and tell me that they really enjoy it. (They’ve stuck with it right to the end, so I don’t doubt them.)
“But what’s it like,” asked my mother one Saturday morning during the obligatory weekly phonecall home, “watching someone you know act? Don’t you keep thinking: ‘I know her!’ all the time?”
She has a point. A large part of my time spent watching anything is taken up with me vaguely recognising someone and then trying to remember where I’ve seen them before. There’s a reason why, in an old job, I was referred to as “IMDb Jez”.
Well, I can’t speak for anyone else who has ever watched actor friends perform but there is certainly an inital rush of recognition, which is quickly usurped by the perfomance itself. Minutes in I’ve divorced the actor from the role. It’d be rude of me not to, I think.
Plus – and I say this not just because there’s a slim possibility that she may read this – Sian genuinely is really, really good (I want to say “astoundingly good”, but I’m not astounded; I’ve seen her captivate an audience as one half of a two-hander in the round, so I know how good she is) so it’s not at all difficult.
What I’m trying to say is this: ignore the fact that I know someone who’s in it, Hidden is magnificent and if you haven’t already been watching, then you should catch it while you can.
As usual, a song. This does not appear at any point in the series. But it is rather appropriate to the plot:
The Beatles – You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away