TV Review: Redemption is not at the cutting edge but there's worse TV

Cara (Abby Fitz) in ITV's Redemption
Billy Foley

Redemption, UTV and ITVx

A TV crime drama that begins in Liverpool but transfers to Dublin 10 minutes into the first episode was always going to catch our attention.

It’s not that Ireland hasn’t produced some strong home-grown stuff in recent years (Love/Hate, The Fall) but we are used to seeing crime drama from an American, British or Scandinavian perspective.

Redemption (UTV on Fridays but all episodes available to stream on ITVx) has a promising set up.

Detective Inspector Collette Cunningham is doing the typical hard-nosed cop stuff in Liverpool when she gets a call from Dublin gardai.

She’s identified as the next of kin of a sudden death, but the name means nothing to her.

It’s only when the Irish detective gives a physical description, including a shoulder birthmark, that DI Cunningham (Paula Malcomson) realises it’s her daughter.

A mother at 15, Cunningham lost contact with her daughter when she was a teenager.  Now 37, Stacey Lockley (she changed her name from Kate to avoid being tracked down) has been found dead and Gardai believe it was a suicide.

At this stage, the viewer has to suspend belief for a while to allow the story to continue.

After travelling to Dublin and identifying the body and meeting her two teenage grandchildren for the first time, Cunningham is suspicious about the death and decides she needs to move to Ireland for six months.

You’d expect her to take bereavement leave or a sabbatical from work, but instead she gets herself immediately transferred from Merseyside Police to the Gardai under the stewardship of Sergeant Jane Connolly (Siobhan McSweeney/Derry Girls).

Never mind the obvious legal hurdles in moving police forces temporarily from one jurisdiction to another, there appears to be no concern that Cunningham is going to be poking around in a case involving her own daughter.

Stacey, who had been working as a nurse at a Dublin hospital, was suspended from work after it was suspected she had stolen some medicines.  Gardai suspected the pressure of this, and numerous outstanding bills (she was a single mother to two teenage children), led to the suicide.

Cunningham’s suspicions that something most sinister was involved are proved correct when she finds a gear bag full of pills and cash under the couch she was sleeping on in Stacey’s house.

Sub-plots included the obviously difficult relationship between Stacey’s daughter Cara and the grandmother who informed her about the death of her mother on their first meeting.


DI Cunningham (Paula Malcomson) in ITV's Redemption


She is sleeping on the couch because Cara (Abby Fitz in a standout performance) banned her from her mother’s bedroom.

Cunningham also gets involved in other cases, including getting full admissions from a heroin addict mother who stabbed her own son to death after he hid her “gear” to try and stop her using.

A joint production between UTV and Virgin Media, Redemption was first released to audiences in the Republic, but there’s not much to identify with in Dublin.

There’s some shots of the distinctive Samuel Beckett bridge but bar the Phoenix Park (Where Stacey’s body was the found), the names of police stations, areas and hospitals are fictitious.

So, is it worth watching?

I think it depends on what you expect from a six-part crime drama.

If it’s easy watching, reasonable entertainment with some attention catching performances, then you’ll be happy for a few hours.

If you’re looking for something more interesting you’re in the wrong place.

Redemption is tick-box crime drama, using well-worn techniques and only a passing reference to the reality of policing and the justice system.