Bancroft review – episode 1: ITV’s answer to Line of Duty is a gripping winter thriller

Sarah Parish and Faye Marsay are outstanding in this dark cold case drama.

Stripped across four days this week, ITV’s Bancroft is a surprising treat in a month usually reserved for cheesy festive specials and holiday cash-ins.

On paper, Bancroft sounds like a tradition British cop show with cold cases, crime gangs and lots of straight-talking ‘guvnors’.

[Read more: Bancroft - Meet the cast]

However, halfway through the first episode it became clear this wasn’t any ordinary procedural.

Detective Superintendent Bancroft (Sarah Parish) is a smart, ruthless and courageous copper, but she is also a killer.

20 years ago, the young miner’s daughter Laura Fraser (Lily Sacofsky) was brutally attacked, bitten and stabbed 18 times by Bancroft. The copper successfully got the case swept under the carpet and is now preparing to go for the top job in the force as DCS Taheeri (Art Malik) plans to retire.

However, DS Katherine Stevens (Faye Marsay), a fast-tracked, ambitious new recruit has been given the Laura Fraser cold case by Bancroft’s work rival Superintendent Cliff Walker (Adrian Edmondson) and the smart young copper can smell something isn’t right with the original investigation.

[Read more: Sarah Parish Bancroft interview]

Bancroft is smart enough to bring Stevens into her team and on her side, but after her old boss DI Charle Haverstock (Kenneth Cranham) is persuaded to come out of retirement for the case, she is forced to take drastic action and brutally kills her old boss and friend.

How many more people will die to protect Bancroft’s dark past? And can Stevens crack the case and bring down the senior officer?

1. Why did Bancroft kill Laura Fraser?

Bancroft on ITV

It’s the obvious question, but at the moment we’re totally in the dark about why she attacked the seemingly innocent young girl.

What history did they have together and what could possibly have motivated such a violent and unpleasant murder.

Is Bancroft evil and serial killer? She’s done very well in the police force without raising any suspicion, so it looks like this was a one-off murder.

But what could possibly connect her with Laura Fraser that didn’t come out in the original case?

[Read more: Where is Bancroft filmed?]

2. Does anyone know about Bancroft's dark side?

The fact that she’s being touted for the top job as DCS suggests that everybody is in the dark about Bancroft’s sinister past.

But could Superintendent Cliff Walker have an inkling of something fishy about his colleague? It seems like a very strange coincidence that he would reopen the Laura Fraser cold case at the exact moment he goes against Bancroft for a job.

Bancroft on ITV

3. How far will Bancroft go to stop Katherine Stevens?

We’ve already seen that Bancroft is willing to use her dashing and single son to manipulate Stevens and keep her on side. But now that the young detective is diving deep into the Laura Fraser case, is her life in danger?

It would surely arouse serious suspicion of even the daftest coppers if Stevens was murdered so soon after DI Charle Haverstock, so maybe that will keep Stevens safe... for now.

Bancroft on ITV

4. What really happened with Bancroft’s husband?

Her son said that they split up and he was forced to move away because of police politics – but is there more to their relationship and break-up than that?

Could her ex-husband shed some light on her connection with Laura Fraser.

5. Is there a connection between Laura Fraser and Athif’s gang?

In 2017, Bancroft is attempting to bring down Athif Kamara (Amit Dhut), whose family ‘controls’ the notorious Highwater Estate. Is this story totally separate from the Laura Fraser case or could there be a link which brings together the 1997 and 2017 criminal storylines?

Bancroft airs Monday to Thursday at 9pm on ITV.

Catch up on BT TV all week via the ITV Hub app.

[Read more: Everything you need to know about Bancroft]

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