« Previous | Main | Next »

The Shadow Line: Getting the shot

Post categories:

Johann Knobel Johann Knobel | 11:13 UK time, Thursday, 5 May 2011

Scene 1:

Aerial shot of two lines of torchlight sweeping across the screen like searchlights. Then they both come together. On a stationary car.

So what are we looking at?

It's 8.07pm on Thursday, 2 September 2010 and we're about to start shooting the opening image of The Shadow Line. And with his usual economy and wit, our writer-director Hugo Blick has indicated in the script exactly what the shot should be.

But we have a problem.

For the shot to work, we need complete darkness and we need it soon.

It's the last day of the Isle of Man portion of the shoot and, having already shot the next scene the previous night, it's vital that we get this shot and this scene in this location - and before midnight, too.

But it's not working at the moment, due to the faint glow on the horizon behind the location, courtesy of the floodlights at the Isle of Man Airport, Douglas, about half a mile away.

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions

There's a hurried huddled conversation about different angles, black-out shades and other possible solutions but we quickly realise the best and speediest option is to ask the airport authority to dim the lights, or even better, turn them off.

All eyes turn to our intrepid location manager and with an imperceptible shrug, he sets off in the direction of the airport.

In so many ways, the scene embodies the spirit of the whole piece.

It orients the audience, tells them to pay close attention to even the smallest thing now, because it's likely to mean a great deal later on.

And the beautiful spare language that Hugo has given Sergeant Foley as he describes what exactly it is that they are looking at, tells us that the world we're entering is different from what we might be expecting - slightly heightened, elevated but hidden.

As Gotham is to New York, so is our world to London.

Thus far, we've managed to achieve it here on the Island, finding, amongst other hidden gems of locations, probably the only street in Douglas that could double for a street in London.

And it's all been conducted with good humour and in a spirit of camaraderie, whether it's scouting for locations while the Isle of Man TT Motorcycle Race takes place around us or cramming just over 15 cast and crew (and their equipment) for a whole day into a hermetically sealed hotel room on what turned out to be the hottest day of the year, without any of them passing out.

Or the day we (intentionally) caused an explosion that landed us on the front page of the Manx Independent and gave the people of Peel a night out to remember.

From left to right: DCI Gabriel (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Gatehouse (Stephen Rea), Joseph Bede (Christopher Ecclestone)

Or shooting a scene in a church graveyard, with Charles Kay (Pendleton in Edge Of Darkness) giving a brilliantly sinister, yet humorous performance, and just as the camera cranes upwards for the final shot, a sheep nonchalantly ambles out from behind a gravestone as if on cue, adding to the slight surrealism of it all (and it made the final cut).

Or the day when several cast and crew members hugged the ground behind a low wall out of sight while the cinematographer raced to the top of Snaefell Mountain to get the last panoramic shot.

Snaefell Mountain, from which local legend states that one can see six kingdoms: Man, Scotland, England, Wales, Ireland and the sixth, Heaven. But only if the fog stays away and that day, it had been threatening to roll in, all day.

But we got that shot with minutes to spare and now, we need to get this one.

Because, just as the two sides on either side of the line slowly converge in the narrative, so the two lines of flashlight should converge on Harvey's car.

The shot is the embodiment of the whole story, all seven episodes of the series. So, we really do need it to be dark.

The location manager returns. Yes! They'll do it, but only for an hour, there's yet one more flight coming in later on.

And as the camera turns over, I hear a crew member saying under his breath, "They'd better let that plane land, 'cause it'll be the one that we have to get in the morning to get to London to finish the shoot."

Well, we got the shot, we got the plane and we got to London.

Where we would get to the first day of shoot, only to discover it's the first of what will be several tube strikes that late summer and spend several days running around Victoria Park, with a camera buggy struggling to keep up with an actor who probably could've qualified for the British Olympic 100m squad.

But that's another story.

Johann Knobel is the producer of The Shadow Line.

The Shadow Line is on BBC Two and BBC HD at 9pm on Thursday, 5 May.

For further programme times, please see the upcoming episodes page.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.


  • Comment number 1.

    "courtesy of the floodlights at the Isle of Man Airport, Douglas, about half a mile away. "

    If you were filming in Douglas, the IoM airport is at Ronaldsway - about 13 miles away.

  • Comment number 2.

    With all those excellent actors on board , I was so looking forward to this. Sadly
    the dialogue was so stilted and unbelievable it became reliant on mean looks and lighting for it's drama. After watching the beautiful simplicity of "Exile" earlier in the
    week, this was a let down. We turned it off.

  • Comment number 3.

    The story shows promise after episode one but the dialogue,(particularly that between the Police Officers) is so unrealistic that I am put off watching the next part. The unnecessary attitude from the female Police Officer is also tiresome to watch.

  • Comment number 4.

    The Shaddow Line what a load of rubbish, again the BBC seem to have spent my license fee on just about everything other than a script. Dear BBC try watching The Wire and see where you're going so horribly wrong.

    P.s. I agree with Bothbands re. Exile, it exemplifies my point exactly, the script has to be the most important aspect, not the opening titles, moody music, DoP lighting, and plethora of expensive big name actors

  • Comment number 5.

    Shadow Line and EXILE in the same week. BBC drama is excelling itself. More like like please. I enjoyed Exile more but love the fact that Shadow Line is playing over 7 weeks, gives it time to grow.

  • Comment number 6.

    Shadow Line had a spare script with not a word out of place, and plenty of space between the words. This, with excellent acting, made it a joy to watch.
    Christopher Ecclestone was stiller than usual, demonstrating that for him, as in the programme, less is more.
    Exile was also a riveting watch, with three great central performances. What a treat to see something where the plot grows from the characters, not the other way round.

  • Comment number 7.

    Agree with comment about unrealistic police dialogue, Chewitel's boss in particular. I'm all for offbeat and different, but I want it to ring true as well. It felt like the scriptwriters were so determined to imbue every character with a hidden agenda, even matter-of-fact transactions are punctuated with dramatic pauses and unnecessary weirdness. I don't doubt that there are hidden agendas involved, but why make a big deal about his ID when he's crossing the police tape? Would the chief constable really talk to him in such a conspiratorial fashion? It just felt like they were laying on a bit thick at times, but I'll keep watching for now.

  • Comment number 8.

    I thought I would give this programme a try as it had so much publicity but I thought it was awful. The opening scene where there were constant closeups of the dead man's face were purely gratuitous. Then I thought it was never going to start with the monsyllabic comments of the policeman rummaging through the car in a most unlikely manner. It was totally unrealistic and the scenes between the police at work were all antagonistic - was that too create tension? Well it did I shall not watch part two

  • Comment number 9.

    I was eagerly waiting to see the first episode, not knowing what to expect. From the brilliant opening sequence to the end scene i found it an excellent and gripping peice of drama. Credit to everyone involved from actors to all those involved in the making of it. Can't wait to see the next installment!!!! Well done, more please.......

  • Comment number 10.

    Thanks. I much enjoyed the obviously 'auteur' signature of this piece (unusual in BBC no?) Of late, I've found BBC dramas so formulaic & cheap-looking. Exile did not appeal; very aggressively male perspective, predictable dialogue/story, no visual narrative nor directorial inventiveness.

    My friend Kevin Woodhouse was the Art Director for Shadow Line. I love the cool, calculating, slick Euro cinematic feel to it. And the dialogue is engaging and hauntingly spare. The story may be kinda old hat but it definitely has a few twists to keep it turning...

    Even though the cast is predominately male, it's such a relief not to have endless drug addled women prostitutes, or other abused women central to the narrative. 'The Killing' was thrilling but woman-hatred/sex crime was at its core. Gets tiring.

  • Comment number 11.

    Can't agree with the above comment. Exile was far superior to Shadow Line and here's why - it was a tightly told story about fathers, sons and childhood. Shadow Line is fascinating rather than gripping. It looks very nice but is very theatrical, episode one could easily be a stage play. Exile was filmic, beautiful, epic.

  • Comment number 12.

    Heh, heh, clues and hints all over the place. Connect - the Hamlet country-matters pun. Then go back and watch sc.1 again. A Shakes prologue directed by Trevor Nunn - hah! Macbeth refs everywhere. Jack in in silhouette in the basement car park, doing the out-damned-spot hand-rubbing, but so reminiscent of Freddy Kruger's shadow. And the white set around the scene-of-crime: a Peter Brook ref?? All great fun - and the guy playing Jack is a wonderful actor. More please?

  • Comment number 13.

    I LOVED the first episode of The Shadow Line. Fantastic script, and the acting - particularly Christopher Eccleston and Rafe Spall - is faultless. This is the sort of drama we've been lacking for so long. Exile was good, but petered out at bit at the end, didn't you think? I hope The Shadow Line continues to enthrall with its creepy characters for the entire series. Great job, BBC.

  • Comment number 14.

    Hello everyone. I’d like to thank you all for your comments on The Shadow Line. It’s heartening to see that drama can still evoke such passion (even when it’s passionately disliked) and I think the BBC deserves a huge thank you for being at the forefront of delivering ambitious and authored homegrown drama.

    But before I respond to the criticisms and praise, a correction. Septic, forgive the typographical/geographical error – we were filming at Castle Industries in the industrial estate across the road from the airport, which is of course, at Ronaldsway, outside of Douglas.

    Bothbands, DonDraper (love the name), simon4858 and jk80, you all seem to be in agreement in your disappointment with the script. Personally, I think it’s an incredibly deft piece of writing, with character and plot seamlessly integrated (but then I would say that…). I agree that our world is a heightened one and that we don’t have a pure naturalistic approach, but that is very much the intention of the piece. It’s regretful that comparisons with The Wire has found their way into the press, because The Shadow Line is not, and was never, intended to be that (and just so you know, I’m a massive fan of The Wire). I think the opening scene declares its intentions very clearly and had hoped it would guide the audience into the world we’ve created. Very early on, Sgt Foley says “My world… my rules…” in response to his constable’s question about the procedural aspects of the investigation (“I thought we weren’t supposed to touch the body”), and that, together with the fact that they don’t wear identifiable British police uniforms, should tell us that these characters operate in an “other” world (much like Gotham is to New York in the Batman universe, so is our world to London).

    Of course, it won’t be to everyone’s taste and that is partly why it’s on BBC TWO, but, simon4858, I would like to take issue with your statement that the BBC is “again’ wasting your license fee. Over the past few months, with shows like The Shadow Line, Exile, The Crimson Petal and The White and the upcoming The Hour, the BBC has shown incredible ambition and verve where British drama is concerned. All of them authored pieces by writers working at the peak of their powers – it’s the kind of approach that in the past has given us classics like Our Friends in the North, State of Play and Edge of Darkness and we should applaud and support the BBC without reservation for this. It’s been too long…

    Jacquee, you picked up on the fact that we are unflinching in our portrayal of the effects of violence, but I don’t accept that it’s gratuitous (in the sense that it does not have a dramatic purpose). The juxtaposition between Foley’s seemingly nonchalant examination and the horrific injuries sustained by Wratten tells us again what kind of world we are in and is, I think, very illuminating about Foley’s character.

    And bevy, dil77, RAJI B, tesselaine, moondust123, I’m thrilled that you enjoyed it and I fervently hope you continue to do so. I find myself drawn into it and discovering new joys every time I watch it (and I’ve seen it a lot…).

    But I think Linda wins this week’s prize for the person who’s watched it the closest. It’s brilliant that you picked up on so many of the influences on the piece, some of them intentional, others less so (but I’ll never tell and we’ll always claim the credit…).

    Once again, thank you for your comments and keep them coming. Hope you enjoy the second episode as much (or in some cases, more) than episode one.

  • Comment number 15.

    luv it!!! completely hooked!....... :o) best drama I've watched since Luther... roll on BBC.

  • Comment number 16.

    Totally gripped by this series. Its sad to see it compared to the Wire, its just lazy journalism, the Wire is a brilliant show but I assume the press are comparing quality with quality. The pacing of Shadow Line is absolutely spot on, people say the first episode was slow, and preferred the second episode. Both were paced to perfection. The characters are excellent as is the cast and casting. Even Raif Spall's character is growing on me, he was hilarious in episode 2. Good to see silence used so effectively making the viewer look at every little detail for clues. The most tense series i've seen in a while, superb direction.

  • Comment number 17.

    I was fortunate enough to watch some of The Shadow Line being shot. I think it is a true testament to the quality of writing and acting that I was totally absorbed in the plot despite knowing the outcome, not just of the episode but the whole series. Television drama has become flaccid with a few rare exceptions and as for the 'reality fodder' that appears to be the staple diet of the masses, surely we should be applauding the return of intelligent, well crafted productions. I'm already looking forward to episode three and sadly there will probably be very little else to tempt me between now and next thursday.

  • Comment number 18.

    Haha - loved ep 2 - a celebration of pantomime villains (or Commedia del' Arte villains if you want to go back a bit). And I loved the homage to League of Gentlemen when Spall held the cat in the bucket; excellent. And the Godfather scenes where they all tried to scare the driver's mum into telling all. The running-bobbies-and-baddies chase in the park was a hoot - and a nice nod to The Thick of It when Ejiofor runs out of the traffic jam, swearing. And what about the scary face that Ejiofor makes in the interview room? Could that be a ref to the Queen in Johathan Miller's Alice in Wonderland? I like this game. Do I care who dunnit? Of course not.

  • Comment number 19.

    A really first class drama. Good production values, terrific acting and a script worthy of H.Pinter.
    Can't wait for the next episode. Thank you BBC.

  • Comment number 20.

    Am loving this one, telling other half to shush while I concentrate on the storyline. But especially Raif Spall's character is so frighteningly psyochpathic - fine acting...

  • Comment number 21.

    Just caught up with the second ep - brilliant stuff. In terms of plot, not much actually happened, but the storytelling was utterly gripping. The "typical British bloody car chase" line was very funny, if a touch knowing. Can't wait for part 3.

  • Comment number 22.

    Well, I'd say this has picked up a little in episode two, but I think many of the main criticisms remain. Too many over-pregnant pauses, too little actual depth. It suffers from the same problems that the BBC's Outcasts did. The scripts aren't good enough.

    Having said that, Outcasts got very good by the end, and I'm hoping Shadow Line will do the same and continues its improvement.

  • Comment number 23.

    Enjoying this a lot.

    One thing that stands out is the quality of the sound recording, it really is quite exceptional. The use of silence is refreshing, no ott soundtrack, just the menace (especially this week) allowed to come through as the various parties made their points to the mothers.

    hats off to the sound crew :)

  • Comment number 24.

    Excellent show, I am just in love with this show. I agree with the post above me, the scaled back tone of the soundtrack really compliments the tone of this show. I have to mention Rafe Spall, wow I did not know this man can act so well, I am going to keep a look out to wherever he goes in his career now because he has me hooked! The way he plays his character reminds me of The Joker, in the sense that he is a complete live wire and every time he is on the scene you fear for everyone else around him.
    Thanks to everyone involved. Fantastic stuff.

  • Comment number 25.

    Totally, brilliant, its been great of late to break away from the US mindless fodders some seem to love, without question.
    The Crimson Petal was magnificent but The Shadow Line from its great starting music to its latest twist, is just so good, its a must see. With an extended family stretching from 19 to 36, all with the partners watching it avidly every week I'm convinced the script is fine, and my TV licence fee far better spent than on the awful MOTD.
    Brilliant it does for me


  • Comment number 26.

    I'm am really enjoying the Shadow Line, but have to agree with the comments about the script being stilted and for me, at times a little theatrical (gaps too long to make sure the people at the back got it). This isn't as pronounced in the later episodes, so I may be getting used to it. Agree with the comment about Honey's attitude, too much. Stylistically I love it, some great camera work. The music is perfectly matched and unlike most dramas appropriately used. Stephen Rea's character is fantastic, and he plays it perfectly. I just hope that the impending twist/climax isn't a damp squib.

  • Comment number 27.

    Shame about the cruelty to the cat by Jay Wratten. Oh before you say
    “We would like to reassure viewers of The Shadow Line that the cat was not harmed or distressed during filming. The majority of the scene was put together in the edit, where we can make it look like Jay Wratten was trying to drown the cat while not harming him in any way. At no point was the cat near water — the last shot shows the cat wet, which was achieved by combing him with a wet comb.” that cat was doing nothing when it was scruffed then it ends up wet , no cat likes being wet.

  • Comment number 28.

    Hello again and please forgive my tardiness in joining the debate.

    We’re still finishing the sound mix of the last episode and, as Azardamus and PeerlessKid have noticed, a lot of thought and work goes into it. I’m absolutely thrilled that people have picked up on the use, and sometimes lack of, music and sound in the piece. We are extremely lucky to have a massively talented composer and sound mixer who work very closely with the director on achieving the right soundscape – all part of our continuing ambition to create a complete “other” world.

    Faddy, turamatu, ladybabs, KUBRICK, lauriemm, davidbishop and mgzteed, thank you so much for your kind comments. It’s fantastic when people are moved to comment and doubly so when the comments are positive (and of course, completely right…), although mgzteed, I for one, still love MOTD…

    JerryCornelius and FrostAndFire, you seem to share the same frustration with the pace of the show, which I take on board completely. It is a considered piece of work, with a strong authorial voice and a very specific approach to storytelling for which it is completely unapologetic (and so am I), and as is so often the case, it sometimes just comes down to a matter of taste whether people like it or not. I happen to like it, but clearly there are others who don’t.

    Thanks, Linda OCarroll, you made me laugh again with your fantastically entertaining identifications of influences. Again, my lips are sealed as to the accuracy of them, although I think one might be down a rabbit hole too far…

    And finally, HonestMP, I don’t think there is anything more to say about the cat than has already been said by the BBC in their official response to the (quite a few) complaints we’ve had.

    But it's worth bearing in mind that making a film or television drama is sometimes a very strange job, working closely for long hours with people you may never see again. And because the creative teams behind the scenes are so passionate about what they do and can get swept up in the fervour of the moment, trying to achieve the perfect shot, or perfect line delivery, or perfect thrilling stunt, there have to be rules and regulations that govern the use of children and animals during filming. Local authorities have to give a licence for a child actor to be engaged, which states explicitly for how long and when we can use them. For animals, a registered wrangler (who sometimes can be the owner, but is always someone who knows

  • Comment number 29.

    the animal really well) will at all times be on set when a scene featuring that animal is shot. And they can stop filming at any time if they feel the animal is in distress. As filmmakers, we look to them to guide us, which is what we did on this occasion.

    I’m just pleased that the scene that would’ve necessitated a gull wrangler was cut before filming. Last time we heard, the nearest one would’ve had to be flown in from Germany. And a certain Scandinavian flat pack furniture store almost scuppered our schedule when they decided to film an advert featuring a hundred cats, of which ours was going to be one. But luckily, they found another cat and we could get on with our scene.

    Thank you all again for the comments, and keep them coming.

  • Comment number 30.

    This series has displayed the best writing, acting, cinematography and intensity that I have ever witnessed in my life. It's everything that I have been looking for in a movie but this story just cannot be compressed into such a short time frame, so I am glad that it is a series. Normally I am good at predicting the plot but in this case I am left bedazled with my mouth wide open and my eyes locked onto the TV screan. every episode leaves me wanting more and the sad truth is that one day it will have to end and that everything thereafter just won't come close to The Shadow Line. I hope this comes out on DVD, i'll buy it its own special case ;)

    Everyone involved in this creation deserves an oscar, a nobel prize and what ever else is out there. You really have hit the nail on the head. WELL DONE!!!

  • Comment number 31.

    Atmospheric; Tense; Gripping; Bleak 'Noir' feel which I love and a strong, superb cast. Ecclestone can do no wrong. He could make mediocre sparkle! However, this is NOT mediocre, it's excellent! Some people out there are nit-pickers and far too scathing. If I HAD to say, just one very tiny critism is, the policewoman has a little too much attitude. It's the old thing of making woman look as edgy as their male counterparts in a MALE way and it never quite comes off but this is a minor thing. I've just watched all 4 episodes consecutively. Great viewing and looking forward to the next episode. Thank you BBC and all concerned. This alone is worth the licence fee! So there, all you 'super critics!'

  • Comment number 32.

    Why is the 'moderation' taking so long?

  • Comment number 33.

    I think she is in love with the detective and the anger is a display of jealousy.

  • Comment number 34.

    Just watched Ep 5 and the series is getting really gripping like BBC thrillers of old. Rafe Spall, Stephen Rea and Antony Sher develop a perfect creepy atmosphere. Less dialogue is more in this series, so shame the other actors have to talk so much - especially to unrealistic police script.

  • Comment number 35.

    I missed the first episode and picked up the story in episode 2. It was not easy to pick up as the pace was slow, the feel was dark and moody and the dialogue a little strained and unrealistic at times. My wife didn't like the programme but I knew that it would grow on me first and foremost because of the quality of the cinematography but also the clever script, storyline, cast and characters. I would have to find time to watch the rest of the series alone.

    It was while googling to try to find out the name of Jay Wratten's spooky ring tone (please put me out of my misery and let me know it's name) that I found links to online videos of the episodes. What a god send it turned out to be.

    My wife's pregnancy was induced in hospital yesterday and there was a lot of waiting around. It was a perfect opportunity to catch up. I watched the first episode which put the second episode into context then the third and the fourth. Now I am totally gripped and am so glad I stuck with it. I find myself revisiting scenes in previous episodes to see if I can spot clues in the dialogue.

    I don't think there will be time to watch episode 5 today as my wife should be in labour in the next few hours but I am looking forward to the final three episodes of this classy drama.

    Well done BBC for commissioning this type of project rather than the generic police uk/us police dramas doing the rounds at the moment.

  • Comment number 36.

    this is a interesting story credit to the writers and actors because the acting is of a high standard and i have not seen anything as good in a while i enjoyed the wire.i would have liked a longer series to shadow line instead of only 7 episodes,i hope they keep alot of these characters.particularly gatehouse, glickman,jay wratten.

  • Comment number 37.

    i do not know what some of these people are talking about the shadow line is really great i cannot wait for the next episode every week the suspence and the veiled threats under everything build up a great atmosphere

  • Comment number 38.

    The Shaddow Line is fantastic, a credit to the actors and has me on the edge of my seat. But when was it advertised and why is such a quality drama quietly shown on BBC2. If I had not heard the interview with Graham Norton on Radio 2 I probably wouldn't have given the programme a glance. So glad I did, just a shame the series will come to an end so quickly.

  • Comment number 39.

    I cannot express how much I have enjoyed this series, it is absolutely gripping and all the actors are wonderful, it is a long time since I have been so absorbed in a thriller, well done it is fantastic.

  • Comment number 40.


  • Comment number 41.

    Hello Everyone,

    I tried to watch the first episode attentively but was quite sidetracked....

    I think it had to do with how close in scheduling that Shadowline was in relation to the Danish TV drama The Killing (Forbrydelsen S01 2007).

    The Killing was a masterpiece and I feel that the BBC should have scheduled this series (Shadowline) in the Fall to give the BBC viewers a rest...

    As I mentioned above I did see the 1st episode, but the ending of the first episode left me kind of annoyed (The scene where the guy finds the money in his walk-in closet.

    Those last few seconds and the way it was acted did not intrigue me and make me want to see the next episode...

    So now I'm going to see the second episode of Shadowline right now!

    Wish me luck! :-)

  • Comment number 42.

    Episode 2 of shadow line:

    Well i must say the electricity in episode 2 is a far cry from 1st episode!!

    Amazing work, the running scene is spine tingling...

    And the red hair actor is amazing!!

    I could definitley see him in a Quintin(msp) Tarentino movie!!


    Now with that suspenseful 2nd episode ending I'm definitely going to watch episode 3.


  • Comment number 43.

    I've been hooked on this from the beginning and I'm disappointed in a way that it will al be coming to an end tonight. I don't fully understand everything thats going on and I cannot predict where it will end, but I'm loving the journey. I love the flashes on unexpected humour such as the mexican standoff with a coathanger.

    I'm hoping we might see Gatehouse lose his cool tonight and I'd love to see a confrontation between him and the bonkers Jay Wratten.

    Thank you Mr Knobel and BBC. I would be very happy if BBC would show more programmes like this.

  • Comment number 44.

    Well I was so looking forward to The Shadowline with the long list of substantial actors in the cast. I hoped i was not going to be disappointed and i definitely wasn't !
    It has been a gripping roller coaster of a ride with twists turns and shocks in every episode. I would hate to single one actor out, but I must admit i was blown away by Rafe Spall. Who had never really caught my eye as an actor before, even though i have seen him in numerous roles
    The Shadowline has scared, distressed, shocked me and had me in tears. It has been a delight to watch an adult programme, with adult acting. For all those people who said it was slow, yes that was the joy and yes you had to watch to follow it!! Isn't that what real drama is about

    All i can say is WOW! I know there will not be any follow up but oh how i am going to miss it and hope it gets it's recognition with the awards season.

    One thing i have learnt, trust no one!! :)

  • Comment number 45.

    Excellent finish to the series:- the police are running all the drugs in the UK - but only to protect their pension scheme! Maybe there is a bit of murder on the side - but then this is the police we're talking about.

    My favourite moment of the entire series was when Gatehouse walked out of the explosion in the Dublin clockmakers, with nothing more serious than a few shaving scars. Funniest thing I've seen since George Formby's 'Never touched me!' routines.

  • Comment number 46.

    Absolutely brilliant! One of the best pieces of TV I've seen in years. Brilliant story; brilliant writing; brilliant casting, cinematography, acting and directing. And so witty! Losing Jay for an entire episode; the feather; and the petulant little curse from the gay boy on the stairs. Marvellous. Multi-layered, simple, complicated and exotic. This was rare treat and I shall miss it dreadfully. So thank you all concerned. (And the art director - loved the flower barrow in the tunnel. And the locations were perfect, who was the location finder? And the lighting cameraman; and....)
    I'll shut up now. Just...thank you.

  • Comment number 47.

    I would just like to say...Thank you BBC for an outstanding full on drama!!!

  • Comment number 48.

    Totally excellent.

    But the reason I'm on this BBC site is simply that I've seen so many negative comments elsewhere.
    Some people seem put off by the complex plot.
    Or by specific events that leave open questions.
    Or seemingly unbelievable events (ie Gateway being shot and recovering).

    So, some comments and answers for those cynics.

    At last, a piece of real drama where we cant predict what happens next.
    We ARE supposed to be in suspense - so we MUST wait for next week.
    Its not a book, we are NOT supposed to flick to the end to see 'whodunnit', even even 'whydunnit'.

    A story that is complex, yet so expertly woven, it becomes breathtaking as it unwinds.

    Its a FICTION, so dont take everything at face value.
    And yet, yes, it is conceivable that our law and order fraternity explore the outer edges of the professional envelope. And get misled as to where the line is, as it becomes blurred at the edges.

    So what IS acceptable to protect the public and reduce crime??
    Shadow Line is such a great title.
    It asks the question, and makes us realise that the answer is far from clear.

    Great direction.
    Dark, mysterious, punchy and highly stylised.
    The dialogue was terse and almost of parables.

    And I love the nods to various characters.
    George Smiley, Colombo, the Crays, Lara Croft and others.

    Overall, brilliant.
    Please keep looking for and making great drama like this.

  • Comment number 49.

    Many thanks to Auntie Beeb for another cracking one-off drama series. And thanks to Messrs Rea and Spall for giving me something new to have nightmares about! Loved the script, the pacing, the casting (Christopher Ecclestone wonderfully understated), and the whole thing looked gorgeous (well, you know, in context). I had to laugh when someone on the BBC2 Review show described the first ep as 'rather too pleased with itself'. Ah, the irony...
    This was utterly gripping from start to finish. Television for grown-ups. More Please!

  • Comment number 50.

    Simply superb - need I say more?

  • Comment number 51.

    This orginal british drama was the bbc at is best full of the best actors the story line of Shadow line was genius you didint know who was good or bad and that was down to the fantastic writing of Hugo Blick. From start to finish award winning and more of it please from Hugo it was the best .

  • Comment number 52.

    I thought this was bloody brilliant! Beautifully crafted,subtle. More like this please BBC, you've raised the bar, keep going. Fabulous.

  • Comment number 53.

    Thank you for this superb series, visually stunning, perfect soundscape, brilliant casting, acting, and direction gave a wonderfully atmospheric, tense and gripping treat each week. Will be missed by both myself and my 18 year old son

  • Comment number 54.

    Can someone explain to me who were the good guys and who were the bad and, more importantly, what it was all about. No hushed tones please!

  • Comment number 55.

    oldJohnno said, "Can someone explain to me who were the good guys and who were the bad and, more importantly, what it was all about."

    Who said there were any good guys, or any bad guys? For me, it was about finding out which shade of grey everyone was. It was an excellent portrayal of the fact that people are not all good nor all bad, regardless of which side of the line they walk.

  • Comment number 56.

    It had great actors. I don`t know what possessed them to appear in the appallingly bad programme. It was good at first but eventually went badly downhill in the last episodes. I suggest whoever wrote this should get a job more suited to his talent - loo cleaner perhaps, that`s if he`s up to the job.
    I really wish I hadn`t wasted my time watching it. What disgusts me even more is that at a time where there are cut backs my licence fee was wasted on this utter rubbish.
    The BBC should be ashamed.

  • Comment number 57.

    The Shadow Line was undoubtedly the best thing I have ever seen on TV. I made that bold claim at work which led to a flurry of search engine action to see what the series was all about and who was in it. I cannot believe that no-one I have spoken to has yet seen it! I have pre-ordered it for a friends birthday which is months away but this just has to be seen. The script and acting are in my opinion of the highest level, and the series had the feel of being thought through to the very finest detail. For a change it felt like the writer was in control rather than the audience being fed the usual proforma drama. The only disappointment was the shutting, or rather slamming, of the door on a sequel series, although this only added to it's integrity and served to differentiate it from the long running imported money spinners we have grown accustomed to over recent years (I exclude The Wire) such as Lost, 24, etc.

    The post by Darkhorse03 at number 30 really said what I had been thinking, although far more articulately.. good post Darkhorse03!!

    Congratulations BBC for having the guts to air this, it is clearly not everyones cup of Tea but isn't that the point??

    PS still haunted by the soundtrack!

  • Comment number 58.

    Undoubtedly for such a high quality television drama series, the intricate production work is understandable. It was refreshing reading through this blog. Johann, on account of your excellent writing craft, bold and vivid images of the production work clearly ran through. It makes me ever so eager to watch the series. I am an aspiring film director and these are intricate details that will make me a success in the business. I will enjoy doing my job in the future. I must admit that you have a knack for writing beautiful and engaging scripts whether for on screenplay or off-screen description of the production. I am most eager to watch the episode of Shadow line with all these find details being collaborated. It is really a change from the poorly written US television series. It is imperative that BBC tries to extends the boundaries of this show to not only British TV but also introduce it on other stations.

  • Comment number 59.


  • Comment number 60.

    After months of having an eloquent response to this and not being able to post it due to 'technical problems' it allows me not to post this drivel.

  • Comment number 61.

    Can you please let me know the version of 'some enchanted evening' that you used in the drama 'the shadow line' (i.e. Ezio Pinza, south pacific, 1949). I would be most grateful for this information.
    The drama was supreme, please BBC give us more, it is what makes you.
    kind regards, Delia

  • Comment number 62.

    Hello delia mccarthy #61 - I've asked this end and the music tracklistings have now been added to the Shadow Line's episode pages.

    Some Enchanted Evening is credited to Giorgio Tozzi.

    Hope that helps - thanks for posting your comment.

  • Comment number 63.

    To Fiona Wickham
    Thank you so much for adding tracklistings and the answer to my question regarding the song Some Enchanted Evening.


  • Comment number 64.

    Fiona please could you find out the name of jay's ringtone on episode 2. Looked high and low on the Internet and can't find it. Thank you.

  • Comment number 65.

    Hi Michael Hester (#64),

    Thanks for your comment. I’ve checked with the production team, and Jay’s ringtone was specially composed for the show by the composer, Martin Phipps.


    Assistant Content Producer, BBC TV blog


More from this blog...

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.