Holding is based on Graham Norton’s novel

Monday: Holding; (ITV, 9pm)

Sgt PJ Collins and Linus
Sgt PJ Collins and Linus

Racehorses. Fine wine. Aristocrats. Many come with impeccable pedigrees that are – in the first two at least – a guarantee of quality.

It’s the same with dramas. Anything that has a superb script, a great director and a kicking cast is almost always going to be sheer class, and this four-parter has bags and bags of it.

Holding is based on Graham Norton’s best-selling debut novel which is, let’s be honest, a none-too shabby start.

But wait. It’s also directed by the superb Kathy Burke, who demonstrates there’s so much more to her talents than the hilarious comic caricatures of her acting days.

Then there’s the cast, and what a line-up. Heading the list is Laurence Olivier and Tony award-winning Conleth Hill, arguably most famous for playing devious eunuch Varis in Game of Thrones – get used to seeing him with hair!

There’s also Oscar-winner Brenda Fricker, Father Ted legend Pauline McLynn, and the inimitable Siobhan McSweeney, best known as the acid-tongued Sister Michael in Derry Girls.

We’ll consider your appetite well and truly whetted, and move on to the plot: local police officer Sergeant PJ Collins (Hill), a gentle soul who hides from people and fills his days with comfort food and half-hearted police work. He is one of life’s outsiders, loveable, lonely and not exactly great at his job.

However, when the body of long-lost local legend Tommy Burke is discovered, PJ is called to solve a serious crime for the first time in his career and is forced to connect with the village he has tried hard to avoid.

They include vulnerable, messy Bríd Riordan (McSweeney), who was due to marry Tommy before his untimely disappearance, and youthful, stuck Evelyn Ross (Charlene McKenna) who desperately loved him.

Evelyn’s eldest sister is Abigail (Helen Behan), the sensible one who has brought up her two younger sisters after the deaths of their parents when they were young, while middle sister Florence (Amy Conroy) is constantly taken for granted. She’s in a relationship with Susan, the headmistress at the school where she teaches, and is finally planning a life away from her family.

Meanwhile, Lizzie Meany (Fricker) is a shy presence in PJ’s life, who has been battling her own demons and secrets, as he soon learns, while local shop owner and busybody Eileen’s (McLynn), deceased husband was the local Garda before PJ, which gives her an even stronger opinion on everything he does.

Newcomer Linus, played by Clinton Liberty, is a fast-tracked, eager young detective from Cork who’s keen to make a name for himself at work, much to the detriment of his relationship with his boyfriend at home. He has to learn from PJ to trust his gut over the science – and slow down.

Holding sheds light on a group of idiosyncratic, yet very real characters, who each have their own frailties, complexities, secrets and pasts, unfolding against the background of a compelling murder mystery that has a distinctive and darkly comic tone.

Sit back and enjoy as this compelling drama explores themes of grief, community, family, and various shades of love – from the quietly passionate and taboo to the unrequited.

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