For reasons which need not concern us here I was obliged to spend a number of hours watching the television over the weekend which partly explains why today I have departed from my normal areas of interest to report upon the second episode of Series 2 of the drama Killing Eve, broadcast on BBC1 on Saturday night at 9.15pm.
I fear I must commence by coming out of the woods with my hands up, but as a mere male I like to think I’ve always been open to taking drama series – the writing, producing, directing, cast choices and acting performances – as I find them, irrespective of any individual involved’s gender, sexual orientation … or anything else.
That said, I’d probably also plead guilty if accused of the crime that – being a man – by preference I tend to shy away from anything marketing itself in advance as female-slanted or concentrated upon: it’s also the reason I generally skip the ‘female’ pages in newspapers, avoid chick-lit and, when Her Indoors has some mates round for a ‘prosecco & chat’ session, I politely excuse myself.
Don’t get me wrong, I love everything about the differences between men and women – long may they endure – but when it comes to ‘female interest’ subjects I broadly tend to the view “It’s not my department”. I cannot help that and if the admission marks out me as a sexist dinosaur in our modern PC world so be it.
Nevertheless – and maybe I’m going soft or even at last getting in touch with my feminine side at my now advanced age – I loved the Scandi-noir series The Killing, the British TV series Doctor Foster featuring Suranne Jones as a demented wife of an unfaithful husband, and both Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s series Fleabag and Killing Eve (Series 1).
And so to the media-excitement around Killing Eve (Series 2), the second episode of which went out on Saturday night on BBC1.
This is now not written by Waller-Bridge – being the hottest ‘flavour of the moment’ she’s too busy to do more than executive produce it, being currently engaged upon ‘improving’ the script of the latest James Bond movie now in production – but by her pal actress Emerald Fennell.
What hacks off oldies like me is primarily the fact that Killing Eve – being a co-production with a US company – was first aired in the US, some six months before it was transmitted in the UK … and exactly similar has happened with Series 2.
Which means that those who are Killing Eve nuts – and there are a lot of them about – are already potentially ‘ahead of the game’ as regards the rest of us, having watched the entire series either via pirated versions they’ve found on the internet and/or (I latterly discovered from my father’s carer at the weekend) on the BBC iPlayer website, from where apparently you can download the complete series even in advance of the UK first transmission on television if you so choose.
As indeed he already has.
For the uninitiated, Killing Eve is a off-beat weird drama project based upon the Villanelle novellas by Luke Jennings, featuring the relative newcomer Jody Comer as the psychopath Villanelle, with the Canadian-American actress Sandra Oh as Eve, a former MI5 agent, now working freelance and Fiona Shaw as Carolyn Martens, her controller, trying desperately to hunt her down.
Having originally seen the light of day conceived as a deliberately quirky, cult-type, off-peak drama project – largely it must be said thanks to the huge success of the acclaimed Fleabag – it quickly attracted a wide fan-base.
This combined no doubt a swathe of females already hooked on Fleabag, a growing number of males (initially perhaps some of them partners of the former) and then, importantly, first the pundits and then the ‘general interest’ columnists of Fleet Street as its ratings and ‘word of mouth’ publicity took-off and sky-rocketed – via the brilliance of its writing, the quality of the cast (in particular the on-screen charisma of Comer which has transformed an otherwise bog-standard evil character into something compellingly watchable) and the production values.
Saturday’s Series 2 outing was a significant improvement on the (in my view) somewhat pedestrian first. Villanelle, who normally operates on the continent as an assassin managed by a shady organisation we don’t quite understand, arrived, still recovering from a serious stomach knife-wound, in Basildon in the boot of a hatchback car – don’t ask because it’s complicated – and gets taken in by an initially-haplessly normal middle-aged man she meets in a supermarket.
He turns out to be a loony who gets his kicks from tending to the collection of vintage female dolls that fill his house and now seemingly regards Villanelle as a prospective live version of one. And thus, after a tension-paced series of incidents – and as Eve and Carolyn hone in on their quarry – of course Villanelle (who kills with the detachment of someone buttering toast) has to dispatch him in gruesome fashion in order to make her escape.
For those currently without an understanding of the Killing Eve phenomenon, or even with one, I can now link you to:
Lucy Mangan on the opening of Series 2, as appears upon the website of – THE GUARDIAN
Alisha Rouse on the excessive extent to which the series has taken hold as regards public interest – see here – on the website of the – DAILY MAIL