Innocent review

This was the second season of a series by Chris Lang, the same writer responsible for the other recent ITV crime series Unforgotten – but involving an apparent miscarriage of justice rather than a cold case.

Like Unforgotten, it focussed on a seemingly unconnected group of characters and events, which all eventually wove together into one coherent whole. As with the original series (from 2018 and starring Lee Ingleby) someone previously found guilty of murder is released from prison and sets about getting their life back together while trying to understand why they were accused and who else might have done the dastardly deed. That makes it sound like a private-detective type thing but actually both seasons were more realistic than that, with the lead characters taking a secondary role in any investigation to the local police.

In this version, young teacher Sally, played by Katherine Kelly (above), is re-tried and found not guilty of the murder of one of her pupils, a bright sixteen-year-old with his whole life ahead of him. The irony was nicely played as the drama showed just how Sally’s own life had been ripped away from her too: she’d lost her job, her friends, her home, her husband, and even, in a particularly cruel twist, their baby in a miscarriage brought on by the original trial.

Unsurprisingly left angry and scarred by her experience, she set about trying to claw back what she saw as rightly hers: blagging her way back into her old job, and trying to tempt her husband (Jamie Bamber) away from the new love in his life. I had a slight problem believing in his character; it seemed shocking that he’d accepted the case against his own wife with so little questioning and hooked up with one of her old school friends soon afterwards. It turned out there was a good reason for all that, though, which led to a nice satisfying explanation at the end.

Less satisfactory was the idea that a sixteen-year-old could successfully hide their sexuality in this age of social media, online ‘outings’, and the vast onrushing machine that is school gossip. Other than that, though, this was a well-written mystery with involving characters and a sense that it really could have happened to almost anyone. My only other complaint was occasionally clunky, daytime-soap-opera-level dialogue, which even a good cast of actors struggled with from time to time. But the added bonus of spectacular Lake District scenery more than made up for that.