Vigil takes drama underwater

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British cop drama series Vigil sends a detective under the waves onboard a nuclear submarine

Vigil takes drama underwater

British cop dramas deliver on intensity, twists and turns, as well as maxing out the whodunitandwhy factor. Now it’s been turned up a notch by throwing a nuclear submarine smack bang in the middle of the action on new British drama series Vigil S1, Mondays on M-Net (DStv channel 101) at 20:30.

And if you think that it’s going to feel claustrophobic watching the action play out within the confines of a giant underwater ship, spare a thought for the cast and crew who got to spend time on real subs to get a feel for moving throughout the galleys, corridors and walkways while feeling like a can of sardines.

PS: They didn’t film on a real sub – the sets are all purpose built.

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Under the sea

The show starts with a trawler in waters off the Scottish coast snagging something in its net – and while we don’t see what that something is, it’s big and powerful enough to drag the trawler and its crew underwater to their deaths. That’s part of the mystery that Scottish Police Detective Chief Inspector Amy Silva (Suranne Jones) is asked to investigate when she’s called into HQ for a hush-hush meeting. It turns out that a sailor has been murdered on the HMS Vigil, a Vanguard-class ballistic nuclear submarine that forms part of the British Royal Navy.

The problem DCI Silva faces is that HMS Vigil will not be returning to port and will not be breaking radio silence – she cannot risk the chance of revealing her location to anyone else who may be listening. So DCI Silva needs to suit up in military overalls and deal with being dangled above Vigil and dropped down onboard the giant ship, where she’s got three days to find the killer who’s hiding among the crew.

I wouldn’t rush to play another police officer (because of my previous roles) but this one (Vigil) is different. It’s a very good TV show. It’s got all the elements – murder, action, mystery, intensity and a nuclear sub,” says Suranne with a laugh.

But there’s more to Vigil than just finding a killer onboard a sub where there’s no escape for the criminal, Suranne says.

“Vigil is different. It’s not a typical British cop-murder drama series. It’s trying to have a different voice in the landscape of television. It’s a boys-y show, a boys-y thriller with two females at the heart of it – and a complex storyline about sexuality and that attracted me to it,” says Suranne, who’s best known as Anne Lister in drama series 2019 biographical drama series Gentleman Jack.

Vigil 02
DCI Silva is lowered onto HMS Vigil at sea.

Family matters

DCI Silva isn’t just focused on her work – her personal life is creeping into her thoughts. Her detective colleague and ex-girlfriend, Detective Sergeant Kirsten Longacre (Rose Leslie aka Ygritte from Game of Thrones), is indirectly dragged into Amy’s case by working on a murder case of her own that ends up connecting a corpse and a girlfriend to someone onboard HMS Vigil.

Amy and Kirsten – nicknamed “Silvacre” in the UK – have split up but there’s the potential to reconnect… when Amy’s back on shore. “I thought it was one of the most beautiful ‘they get together’ scenes I’ve even seen,” says Suranne and Rose’s co-star Patterson Joseph (Commander Neil Newsome, captain of Vigil).

“It’s about two people finding each other absolutely irresistible and loving each other. It was beautifully done and tells so much story in those few scenes where they first give in. It’s so normal and so beautiful. And then it’s set in the middle of this submarine mystery and that adds to the intensity of these two characters, and it tells a new story.”

Vigil 01
DCI Amy Silva (right) and her colleague ex-girlfriend, DS Longacre, are unknowingly investigating a connected case.

Watch Vigil S1, Mondays on M-Net (DStv channel 101) at 20:30

M-Net (DStv channel 101) is available on DStv Premium. To upgrade your existing package, click here. Or if you'd like to Get DStv, find a service that suits your needs here.

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