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2010 Crime Dramas on British TV Preview

Perhaps one of 2010's most intriguing new crime shows is this six-part thriller starring Idris Elba - Russell 'Stringer' Bell in The Wire - in the title role as John Luther. The murder detective is a near genius whose sharp mind doesn't always keep him clear of danger. Elba is quoted on the BBC website: 'While he's capable of kindness and loyalty, sometimes he steps over the edge of madness, simmering with rage.' Creator and writer Neil Cross is a suspense novelist and was lead writer on the last two series of Spooks. Transmission To be announced.

The Silence BBC1

Amelia, young deaf woman (introducing Genevieve Barr), witnesses the murder of a policewoman in this four-part BBC drama. Getting away from her protective parents (Gina McKee, star of In the Loop and Waking the Dead; and Hugh Bonneville, soon to be tv advertising agency seen in this year's TV series Ben Hur), Amelia is staying with her cousins, detective uncle Jim (Douglas Henshall - Collision, Primeval) and aunt Maggie (Dervla Kirwan - Moving On, Doctor Who) when she sees the killing. Transmission TBA.

Sleepyhead Sky1

Fans of Mark Billingham's Tom Thorne series of novels will be keen to see the tough detective brought to screen life if Sky1 goes ahead with a 6x60-minute, as yet unnamed merging of Thorne's first and second outings, Sleepyhead and Scaredy Cat. David Morrissey, seen recently in Doctor Who and Red Riding, will bring his brooding presence in the role of Thorne, who, let's say, has strong instincts about the crimes he investigates. Scripts are being worked on now. Transmission TBA.

The Runaway Sky1

Following the splash made by 2009's chilling adaptation of Martina Cole's The Take, Sky1 is now working on The Runaway, her story of childhood friends from London's sleazy streets who are reunited as adults. Summer 2010.

Above Suspicion: The Red Dahlia ITV1

Following last year's Lynda La Plante of adaptation Above Suspicion comes this sequel on ITV, again featuring novice detective Anna Travis (Kelly Reilly, recently on the big screen in Sherlock Holmes). Ciarán Hinds (Rome, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II) is her boss DCI James Langton. A horrific copy-cat killing reunites the unlikely duo... Early 2010.

U Be Dead ITV1

In a busy year for David Morrissey, he stars alongside Tara Fitzgerald (Waking the Dead) in a thriller based on a true crime. It's the story of serial stalker Maria Marchese, who waged a chilling campaign against Dr Jan Falkowski (Morrissey), falsely accusing him of rape, and his fiancée Debbie Pemberton. Transmission TBA.

Vera ITV1

Brenda Blethyn gives big-screen roles such as last year's Dead Man Running a break to join Gina McKee in this thriller, based on a novel by crime writer Ann Cleeves. Chief Inspector Vera Stanhope (Blethyn) is called on to investigate a traumatic killing when Luke, son of Julie Armstrong (McKee), is found murdered at home - strangled, laid out in a bath of water and covered in flowers. Transmission TBA.

Sherlock BBC1

A contemporary setting for Arthur Conan Doyle's genius amateur sleuth, starring Benedict Cumberbatch (Stuart: A Life Backwards, Small Island) as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman (The Office, Hot Fuzz) as loyal sidekick Dr John Watson. Rupert Graves (Garrow's Law, Marple) is Insp Lestrade. What should give this 60-minute one-off drama a special twist is that adapting it is Steven Moffat, the man behind many of the most brilliant recent Doctor Who adventures, and Mark Gatiss, actor, screenwriter and one of The League of Gentlemen. Transmission TBA.

Five Days BBC1

Having its first series in 2007, Five Days is another drama back for a second outing this year. A fine cast, including Hugo Speer, Bernard Hill, Anne Reid and David Morrissey (again!), is headed by Suranne Jones as DC Laurie Franklin. A newborn baby is abandoned in the toilets of a Yorkshire hospital and a commuter jumps in front of a train. Franklin must work out if these events are linked. Transmission TBA.

Law & Order: UK ITV1

Bradley Walsh (Coronation Street) and Jamie Bamber (Dollhouse, Battlestar Galactica) return as DS Ronnie Brooks and DS Matt Devlin in this UK spin-off from the long-running hit US franchise. Some critics may not have applauded last year's first London series, but the import successfully emulated the pace of the original and won six million viewers. Also starring Ben Daniels (Lark Rise to Candleford), Freema Agyeman (Doctor Who, Survivors) and Bill Paterson (Little Dorrit, Into the Storm). Transmission Monday 11 January 9pm.

Wallander BBC1

Kenneth Branagh is back in three more Kurt Wallander dramas. Last year's helping picked up the BAFTA for Best Drama Series, won Branagh Best Actor at the Broadcasting Press Guild Awards and was watched by six-million viewers. It was a deserved success as Branagh and the producers worked hard to capture the moody spirit of Henning Mankell's Swedish hero. Faceless Killers, The Fifth Woman and The Man Who Smiled to come... Sunday 3 January 9pm.

Whitechapel ITV1

ITV has recommissioned one of its most watched dramas of 2009 for a second series. Jack the Ripper was the inspiration (if that's the right word) for a contemporary serial killer in series one, starring Rupert Penry-Jones and Phil Davis as mismatched detectives, along with Steve Pemberton. All three return for Whitechapel II, which will somehow draw on the East End gangsterism of the Krays' era. Ben Court and Caroline Ip return to write the scripts. Transmission TBA.

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