Cardinal and Delorme search for the truth

Cardinal; (BBC Two, 9pm & 9.45pm)

Det. Lise Delorme and Det. John Cardinal are on the trail of the abductor of a prominent politician’s husband
Det. Lise Delorme and Det. John Cardinal are on the trail of the abductor of a prominent politician’s husband

There have been some nasty rumours circulating about BBC Four lately.

Many observers thought that the corporation’s bosses had decided to close it down at the end of the year and add its budget to that of BBC Three in an attempt to appeal to a younger audience.

Viewers were in uproar, petitions were started, and the Beeb had to issue a denial in which executives stated there were no plans at present for such a thing.

Let’s hope they stick to that because without BBC Four, we might never have got to see such wonderful imported crime dramas as Spiral, The Killing, Inspector Montalbano and, of course, Cardinal.

The Canadian thriller is, however, receiving a promotion – the fourth and final series is being broadcast on BBC Two, perhaps because the station is running out of new shows suitable for prime-time viewing. So, rather than dropping into BBC Four at 9pm on Saturday evening, where it has usually been seen, Cardinal is going more mainstream.

When the BBC bought the drama in 2017, Sue Deeks, head of programme acquisition, described it as, “Set in the bleakly beautiful Northern Ontario landscape. It’s a finely nuanced, atmospheric thriller which is completely gripping from beginning to end.”

She wasn’t wrong.

The first series, based on Giles Blunt’s bestselling novel Forty Words for Snow, introduced viewers to Detective John Cardinal, a melancholic police officer in Algonquin Bay who had recently been demoted due to his supposed obsession with the disappearance of a Native Canadian girl.

However, when her body eventually appeared, Cardinal was teamed up with new partner Lise Delorme to find who murdered her.

Since then the duo have hunted down ritualistic cult killers and searched for the person responsible for the death of Cardinal’s troubled wife. Now they’re back, this time on the trail of whoever abducted the husband of a prominent politician, leaving him to die of exposure in Canada’s frozen wastes.

They begin to suspect a hired assassin has been paid to bump off those who are close to four individuals who are trying to hide something about their pasts. It’s an act of revenge, and a very vicious one at that.

As previous viewers of the drama will be aware, there has always been a frisson between the central characters, although Cardinal has been reluctant to act on it due to his status as a married man. Now he’s a widower, there is nothing to stop him and Delorme acting on their feelings; but any romance may prove to be short-lived – she’s about to be offered a job opportunity in Toronto.

Billy Campbell – still perhaps best known for his role as The Rocketeer, despite the film being made almost 30 years ago – is perfectly cast as Cardinal. He’s all brooding intensity, with a hint of loneliness and longing. The role has turned him into a heartthrob all over again – there are certainly plenty of people out there who would love the challenge of putting a smile on the detective’s face.

Karine Vanasse co-stars as Delorme, the ideal foil for Cardinal, despite finding it difficult to hide her true feelings for him.

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