Grace: brilliant Brighton detective series scales new heights tonight

Topped off by the series’ most nerve-shredding conclusion so far, Grace number four tonight took things to a new level in so many other ways besides.

Grace

Quite apart from trying to work out who the dead woman in a Brighton storm drain is and how on earth she got there, John Simm’s detective Roy Grace finds himself under investigation this week –for murder.

Dead Man's Footsteps this evening saw Simm as hunted as the criminals he’s intent on catching.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

As first, fleetingly, there are sufficient similarities in age, teeth and hair colour to suggest that the skeleton might just be Grace’s wife who vanished into thin air some years before.

But it’s the arrival of James D'Arcy as DS Cassian Pewe which really turns the heat up.

Hating Grace with a passion and smug in what he sees as his Met police superiority, Pewe decides that Grace was insufficiently investigated in his own wife’s disappearance.

As the pressure mounts on Grace to solve the mystery of the woman in the storm drain, back home, at Pewe’s instigation, Grace’s own house is being pulled apart in the minutest police search and his lawn is being probed with some kind of body-finding technology.

D'Arcy gives us a truly hateful Pewe – hateful in every sense. Cassian loathes Grace with a vengeance; just as significantly, he ramps up the tensions with his sheer spitefulness, a ghastliness trying to parade itself as civility and as sophisticated London police know-how.

All of which puts the pressure on Grace’s new-found happiness with Chloe Morey (Zoë Tapper). There’s tenderness, but Chloe starts to wonder whether now is the right time…

The result is first-class entertainment delivered by increasingly rounded characters locked in increasingly complex relationships – all wrapped around a murky tale of high-value stamps, faked suicide and murder. Another highly satisfying tale supremely well told.

Tonight’s was the penultimate episode of Russell Lewis’ superb ITV adaptation of Peter James’ multi-million selling crime novels.

The first two in this current series secured the biggest viewing figures on the Sundays they were shown. It’s difficult to believe that tonight’s and next week’s won’t do the same.

When the series ends, it’s going to leave a massive hole in our Sunday nights. Surely we’ll hear soon that series two has done more than enough for work to start this summer on series three…