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The Pembrokeshire Murders: Episode 2 review

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TONIGHT, Tuesday January 12, sees the second episode of ITV’s 3-part adaptation of ‘The Pembrokeshire Murders’.
Episode 1 set the scene, it introduced you to all the characters, the situation and the sheer scale of the task ahead for Operation Ottawa.
Episode 2 picks up straight away, the news report seems to have rattled Keith Allen’s John Cooper who must sense that the net is closing in on him as he spends a lot of his time in the prison library reading up on DNA technologies used in criminal investigations.
Again we’re seeing that Cooper is as clever as he is manipulative and is still trying to scheme and plot his way out of trouble, even as he’s brought out of prison to be questioned by the team in Ammanford.

Operation Ottawa: the team that cracked the case in the new ITV drama

In many ways Episode 2 feels like John Cooper’s episode, obviously he’s the focus of all 3, but he’s a much bigger part of this episode and you truly get the sense of his slyness, his clear intellect and him acting purely out of self interest as his parole date nears.
After calling Andrew ‘dead to us’ in Episode 1, Episode 2 see’s John getting Pat to contact their son as John struggles to explain those pesky khaki shorts.
As mother and son are reunited, all hope Andrew had of being able to help his mum…sorry, ‘mam’ are instantly washed away as Pat keeps on questioning Andrew about those shorts. It’s clear to Andrew that Pat is still singing from John Cooper’s hymn sheet and getting Andrew over wasn’t for a touching reunion, it wasn’t just for tea and toast with jam, it was because John Cooper said so.
Oliver Ryan’s chat with his mum is a powerful scene, you begin to really see how much it’s messed up Andrew and how alone he truly is without his family, mainly his mum. But Pat is too involved, too wound up in Cooper’s lies to walk away, even with John Cooper expected home imminently. Oliver Ryan’s performance in this scene alone is one of the most powerful scenes in the entire series and deserves a special mention for another great acting performance in a series chocked full of them.
Elsewhere in the episode, Operation Ottawa are closer to Cooper than ever before but are no closer to proving his guilt as they burn through the budget re-testing items from Operation Huntsman.
Keith Allen’s chillingly cold performance, especially as he throws his son under-the-bus, is captivating to watch, his accent continues to waiver but just ignore it, what you’re seeing here is an animal penned in, Cooper is running out of moves to make so painting his son as the villain is the only way he can continue to try and squirm out of the grip of justice.
Alexandria Riley’s ballsy Ella Richards inspires the anger in Cooper that we’ve all heard so much about. Cooper may not appreciate female intellect, but that short-sighted, ridiculous way of thinking is so very nearly his undoing. You see that rage build as she confronts him and that encounter alone left me feeling that Cooper was ready to snap at any time especially when Richards presents him with another pair of glasses. Truly chilling stuff from Allen.
Luke Evans meeting with Andrew Cooper is another perfect scene that starts to build the trust between Andrew and Wilkins. Inch perfect again from both of them, Andrew clearly starts to see that the only way to help his mum is to help the police cage John Cooper for good. But how?
As the episode nears its end, a chance pint in The Kings Arms changes everything and we get to see how Bullseye factors into the story for the first time. That coupled with the very last scene leaves the stakes high and time running out as we head into the third and final part of this adaptation with John Cooper free.
Another solid episode elevated above your run-of-the-mill police dramas by superb acting, a great story and stellar pacing that sets up the last part perfectly. 4/5

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Tenby beach on Manic’s new album cover

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THE MANIC STREET PREACHERS have used a image of Tenby’s South Beach – which features views of Caldey Island on the cover of their up and coming album cover.

The Welsh bands new album The Ultra Vivid Lament is due to be released on September 3.

Bassist and Lyricist Nicky Wire has owned a property in the seaside town for the last 15 years.

The image shows Wire standing on the shore looking out to Caldey Island.

Nicky has also been part of the art scene in the picturesque town when he showcased an art exhibit at Tenby Museum and Art Gallery in September 2018.

Speaking on Tenby Nicky said: ““I think Tenby is unique, and I’ve been to loads of seaside towns. It’s kind of self-contained, still working – you can go to an art gallery, have a great cappuccino, an amazing bag of chips, and just wander around on the beach,” he remarked.

“Having a place down here has been more than inspirational – it has inspired a lot of my lyrics, especially ‘Postcard from a Young Man’ – that album in particular.

“I remember my first trip to Tenby vividly when I was about seven to ten – the shops were still open at night, and we had a fantastic bag of chips and played cricket on the beach!

“The first thing that hits you is the harbour itself – it is truly picturesque. You have South Beach, North Beach, the view to Caldey – the town itself incased by the original Castle walls – a fantastic Georgian terrace, all the blue plaques for Augustus John, Gwen John, Nina Hamnett, Beatrix Potter, and the museum itself – everything a man could need!

“For me it’s just the stillness of it – the minute I get down here, everything just slows down.

“It’s a very historical and artistic town, and makes me a bit of a better person when I’m down here,”

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BAFTA winner Sir Anthony Hopkins visits St. Davids

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CELEBRATING his BAFTA win, Sir Anthony Hopkins has been vaccinated and returned to his native country of Wales where he visited St. Davids.

The Hannibal Lecter actor, 83, from Port Talbot, won the best actor BAFTA for The Father, a film about a man battling dementia.

The actor, who normally resides in Los Angeles, is holidaying in Wales and posted a picture to his Twitter account from St Davids shortly before his BAFTA win.

Choosing not to appear virtually at the ceremony, he did speak to the press shortly after when he talked about remaining in Wales until the Oscars take place later this month.

Hopkins told journalists: “We are taking a long vacation, we’ve been in a lockdown and it’s been a tough year for everyone so we took a holiday and we had our vaccinations.

“So we’re in Wales having a quiet time and are very grateful to everyone so that is where we will be.”

Hopkins went on to say that he is still acting because it ‘keeps me out of trouble’, adding:

“I don’t want to sound heavy about it but it’s the only thing I know how to do.

“I keep it simple. I love it. It’s a great life. And to be able to express things, I try not to take myself too seriously, I hope I don’t.”

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The Pembrokeshire Murders: Episode 3 review

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TONIGHT, Wednesday January 13, sees the third and final part of The Pembrokeshire Murders air.

From the opening scene, it’s clear that Wilkins needs to act fast to cage Cooper.

Pat’s death is described as natural from the get-go, but theories will no doubt talk about how ‘Cooper must have done it’. He didn’t.

Her passing weighs heavily on Wilkins’ shoulders, you see that when he breaks the news to Andrew and it could be argued that her passing gives the team that extra bit of energy to finally see Cooper caged for his crimes.
11 minutes into the final part, Wilkins gets his ‘Golden Nugget’, Peter Dixon’s blood is found on John’s bathers after the hem is unpicked, they also find a hair from the Dixon’s daughter.

They’ve got him.

Luke Evans’ restrained joy boils over as he gleefully tells the DNA expert that he bloody loves her and that moment of relief is palpable for Wilkins who can now see the end in sight.
Within 120 seconds, we see Cooper collared by police for his crimes and literally dragged off kicking, screaming and swearing as his scheming is finally brought to an end, although it wasn’t filmed in Letterston where it took place in reality.

Caroline Berry as Pat Cooper (L) and Oliver Ryan as Andrew Cooper (R)

The scene where they find Cooper has tooled himself back up to, we assume, kill again, felt a tad unbelievable, a stretch too far even.
I didn’t particularly enjoy how stupid it made the cunning, clever Cooper seem when the race had already been run and I wasn’t entirely sure it served much of a purpose besides showing us how close the writers think Cooper was to killing again. I didn’t believe this scene was based on fact, until I got told by a friend that it was! I couldn’t believe Cooper didn’t know when to call it a day, unless by that point he genuinely felt he had nothing to lose.

It does however set up the face-off between Wilkins and Cooper that we’ve been waiting for 2 days to see.
The battle of the fathers takes place with Wilkins barely saying a word for the first few questions, but his triumphant gaze at Cooper, who now clings to his ‘ask Adrian’ defence, tells you everything you need to know about the calmness of Wilkins character and Luke Evans, again, plays this scene subtley, Allen’s Cooper though is rebellious to the end.
The victims of the Nolton Hill Estate attack get their chance at closure, their dreadful experiences have been somewhat under-mentioned so it felt rewarding to see a human reaction to part of Cooper’s crimes that are easily overshadowed by the double murders, but shouldn’t be forgotten.
As we hurtle towards the end, we see Wilkins steeling Andrew Cooper up to testify at John’s trial by video-link in a scene that, once again, shows the two standout actors of this production at their very best.
A non-threatening but righteous Wilkins coaxes Andrew into doing the right thing in a touching scene where Andrew finally gets the support he’s been lacking, only this support comes from the Police, not his family as he so dearly craved.

Cooper trips himself up in spectacular fashion during the trial as he’s forced to either admit lying to the court previously, or lying to the court now.
That moment, for me, secured his conviction as he’s finally left speechless and, to be honest, a tad pathetic.
Allen nails Cooper’s outburst as he’s taken down and that anger kicks in as he swears at the judge and finally disappears from view to spend the rest of his life behind bars.
The Pembrokeshire Murders ends with Wilkins’ son deciding to become a Policeman like his dad and the battle of the fathers is over.
Andrew Cooper hated his dad and wanted to be nothing like him, Steve Wilkins son ends up deciding to be more like his father so Steve Wilkins wins the day. Bravo!

‘The Pembrokeshire Murders’ is a story we’ve seen on countless cop shows for years. A cold case, a disgruntled cop with a chequered past is brought in to find the truth, through the course of the story he discovers the truth and in doing so mends himself and the lives of those around him.
It’s nothing special.
Until you factor in the true story elements, the superb performances and, to be frank, the local setting. If this was called ‘The Lancashire Murders’ I dare say that maybe I wouldn’t be as forgiving with the misfires as I am with this.

A great adaptation of a meaty story that does what it can with a story seen a thousand times before, the performances of Luke Evans, Keith Allen, Alexandria Riley, Oliver Ryan and Caroline Berry bring real heart and soul and set this apart from the rest. 4/5

Check out this weeks Herald where we’ll be taking another look at a confusing local double murder some say bares all the hallmarks of John Cooper….

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