TV review: Drama, violence and unexpected humour makes Killing Eve 'one to watch'

Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh star in Killing Eve. Picture by Jason Bell/ BBC

Killing Eve, BBC One, Saturday, 9.15pm

IT all starts with smiles across a busy cafe in Vienna.

An attractive young woman watching a sweet little girl enjoying a bowl of ice-cream, just a few tables away. As she gets up to leave, the woman's smile broadens as she approaches the cute child. Will she stop to say hello?

No, instead she walks past, pausing momentarily, and deliberately knocks the dessert onto the girl's lap. She walks on, still smiling.

Welcome evil, psychopathic assassin Villanelle to our television screens.

BBC One's new 'cat and mouse' drama, Killing Eve debuted last weekend and was met with widespread acclaim from viewers - and it is clear to see why.

The opening episode of the series, which is adapted from Luke Jennings' Codename Villanelle novellas by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, follows Villanelle as she travels the world in search of her next victim.

Played by Liverpool-born actress Jodie Comer, familiar to us from her role in hit drama 'Dr Foster', she moves from Austria, to London and then onto Tuscany, carrying out murder after murder with heightened drama, but yet with much ease.

But soon hot on her trail is quirky MI5 agent Eve Polastri, played by former Grey's Anatomy actress Sandra Oh.

Called into an unexpected Saturday morning meeting with her weary boss Bill, played by David Haig, after a night's partying for his birthday, the pair are informed by senior MI6 officer Carolyn Martens, played by Fiona Shaw, that a Russian diplomat has been assassinated in Vienna in front of his young girlfriend.

Eve's job is to ensure the witness is protected - pretty simple, you would think?

But convinced the assassin is a female and unwilling to listen to her bosses who think otherwise, Eve decides to embark on some investigating of her own.

But it is a road that leads her on a collision course with Villanelle.

From the outset, Eve is witty, funny and quite clearly bored with her desk-bound job that fails to satisfy her wild fantasies of being a spy.

Deep down she knows, and her obsessive attempts to track down the mysterious assassin reveal, that a woman is responsible for a string of dramatic murders across the globe.

Villanelle, on the other hand, is a 'talented' killer who won't be caught easily. She feels nothing for her next victim, it's clear she murders them, not just for the large amounts of money on offer, but quite simply for the pleasure of it all.

The drama is soon set to become a game of cat and mouse with career-killer Villanelle and Eve going head-to-head - both becoming equally obsessed with each other.

Comer, whose performance has won rave reviews from audiences in the United States where the series has already aired, has told fans that it was a "dream role" to win the part of Villanelle.

"I didn't think I had ever read a character like her before, especially in terms of a female assassin," she said.

On the outset it's a spy thriller centred on an intelligence agent chasing down a beautiful, psychopath assassin. But what took me by surprise was the comedy element. There's a wry humour that you don't think will work, but it does.

It's only been one episode for me, but there's drama, violence and humour that make it gripping already.

The only real dilemma I had after the first episode was how strong I am to wait for the next one?

With all eight episodes now available on BBC iPlayer, it has taken a great will this week not to binge watch the entire series in one sitting.

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