David Threlfall leads all-star cast in Tony Basgallop’s compelling new BBC One drama What Remains

What Remains is both a tense whodunit, obeying all the rules of the popular genre, and at the same time a deep analysis of the nature of loneliness and the true meaning of community.”Hilary Salmon, Executive Producer
Date: 17.01.2013     Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 18.11
Category: BBC One; Drama
In his first role since playing the infamous Frank Gallagher in Shameless, David Threlfall will lead a stellar cast in this new drama for BBC One.

Further cast in suspenseful new drama What Remains include Russell Tovey (Him & Her, Being Human), Stephen Mackintosh (Inside Men, Criminal Justice), David Bamber (The Hollow Crown, The King’s Speech), Victoria Hamilton (Lark Rise To Candleford, Toast), Indira Varma (Luther, Silk) and Claudie Blakley (The Night Watch, The Nativity). Written by Tony Basgallop (Inside Men), this 4x60 serial is a thrilling state-of-the-nation whodunit, directed by Coky Giedroyc (The Hour, The Spies Of Warsaw) and made for the channel by BBC Drama Production.

Tony Basgallop comments: “The key to writing and casting What Remains has been in ensuring that we had the right chemistry between the characters. We have to believe in the partnerships for the drama to work, because at its core this is an ensemble piece about the spaces we share, the compromises we make, and the unwritten rules of communal living.

"It’s also a whodunit, so we need to empathize with these characters whilst at the same time presenting them as suspects in a murder. No mean feat. Fortunately, we've landed a cast with the quality and experience to pull the audience in any direction we choose to take them.”

When a new couple, Michael (Russell Tovey) and his heavily pregnant partner Vidya (Amber Rose Revah) move into flat 4 of number 8 Coulthard Street, a leak in the loft causes them to discover the remains of Melissa Young (Jessica Gunning) hidden in the eaves. She had not been seen for over two years. She is not registered as missing. No one has raised an alarm or even noticed that she was gone.

Detective Inspector Len Harper (David Threlfall) is sent out to investigate. It is his last week before retiring from the force and the discovery should be pretty cut and dry: no sign of a struggle, no suicide note, no motive for murder.

Disillusioned and afraid of the loneliness retirement will bring, Len refuses to let Melissa’s death remain unanswered, resolutely offering her the attention she so sorely lacked during her lifetime. Len is determined to uncover the secrets hidden behind the doors of Melissa’s neighbours in Coulthard Street.

Every flat has its own story to tell, in equal weight. In one way or another they all had some sort of connection with the victim:

Firstly, partners Elaine (Indira Varma) and Peggy (Victoria Hamilton) who seemingly have it all - both a successful business and relationship. But the discovery of Melissa’s remains causes it all to fall apart. Elaine doesn’t hide her feelings towards Melissa - she never liked her - but Peggy is shocked and upset. Never one to suffer those less successful than her, before long we discover Elaine has a darker secret connecting her to Melissa.

Kieron (Stephen Mackintosh) and Adam (Alexander Arnold) are father and son. Since getting divorced four years earlier, Kieron has struggled to find a girlfriend that Adam approves of. Kieron is the editor of a local newspaper, he has learnt to keep his life professionally private but he also has many personal secrets to hide, and Len’s investigation only serves to bring his demons to the forefront.

Finally, there's Joe (David Bamber), who has always lived a solitary life. A stickler for rules and routine, Joe has lived in the house for 15 years and works as a maths teacher. On Coulthard Street he is the first to point out when anyone steps out of line, treating his neighbours as he would his pupils. Apparently living alone, it soon appears that not all is as it seems in the basement flat he occupies.

Hilary Salmon, executive producer, adds: “Tony is one of the stand-out British dramatists currently writing for television and we are thrilled to be making his intriguing new murder mystery. What Remains is both a tense whodunit, obeying all the rules of the popular genre, and at the same time a deep analysis of the nature of loneliness and the true meaning of community.”

By turns Melissa was bullied by them, harassed, or simply ignored. She was secretly in love with one of them. And as we will ultimately discover, she was killed by someone very close to home. What does that say about the life she lived or the society we occupy? And is her killer still at large?

What Remains has started filming in London. It will be produced by Grainne Marmion (Small Island) and executive produced by Hilary Salmon. The drama was commissioned by Ben Stephenson, Controller of BBC Drama Commissioning and Danny Cohen, Controller of BBC One.