Vigil: Submarine drama explores 'isolating and tense' life and death at sea

2 weeks ago 14

By Steven McIntosh
Entertainment reporter

image captionSuranne Jones has antecedently starred successful Doctor Foster, Gentleman Jack and Scott & Bailey

A caller BBC play starring Suranne Jones and Martin Compston takes viewers aboard HMS Vigil, a fictional Royal Navy submarine, and is tipped to beryllium 1 of the astir gripping TV shows of the year.

Setting a movie oregon TV bid astatine oversea isn't ever a look for success, arsenic anybody inactive recovering from 1997's Speed 2 volition archer you.

Fortunately, BBC One's latest drama, which begins connected Sunday, has snubbed unstoppable luxury cruise ships successful favour of a execution enigma connected committee a nuclear-powered ballistic rocket submarine.

Inspired by the UK's real-life Trident fleet, the fictional HMS Vigil patrols British waters from a classified location. It is retired determination determination beneath the water's surface, acceptable to support the state by launching a thermonuclear warhead - should it ever beryllium required.

In reality, the precise beingness of a British atomic deterrent is arguable - but this show's intent isn't to tackle that debate. Instead, it examines the quality stories down the British unit connected board, who eat, slumber and enactment successful adjacent quarters for months connected end.

image captionLine of Duty prima Martin Compston reverts to his real-life Scottish accent successful the series

Early successful the archetypal episode, 1 unit subordinate is recovered dormant - seemingly aft taking heroin. A constabulary detective, DCI Amy Silva (played by Jones), is tasked with investigating whether determination was much to his decease than meets the eye. She suspects determination is.

DCI Silva indispensable committee the submarine, interrogation unit members and look for clues successful an effort to portion unneurotic what happened successful the hours earlier the death. HMS Vigil is simply a distinctly unpleasant spot to behaviour specified an investigation, with nary earthy airy and a changeless feeling of claustrophobia and isolation.

"Being trapped nether the water, and Amy having look things she hadn't faced, was a truly absorbing conception for maine - connected apical of it being a truly bully bull show," Jones said astatine Vigil's London launch.

"We talked astir each the antithetic aspects of Amy due to the fact that I didn't privation thing to get lost. It's specified a engaged script, due to the fact that of the onshore probe and the underwater investigation, and arsenic you'll see, you person to support up with it due to the fact that determination are a batch of strands to support connected apical of, and a batch of characters."

It's existent Vigil is simply a amusement viewers volition request to springiness their afloat attraction to successful bid to travel the plot. In summation to the probe taking spot connected board, DCI Silva's counterparts connected onshore are pursuing their ain leads - portion lone having precise constricted (and one-way) connection with her.

image captionPaterson Joseph plays the captain, caught up successful the struggle betwixt the Navy and the constabulary force

Writer Tom Edge, whose erstwhile enactment includes Judy and The Crown, says that successful summation to "the pleasures of a locked country mystery", helium was funny successful the quality stories down the fiercely dedicated unit members.

"They bash this incredibly hard enactment successful isolating, tense conditions," helium says. "And they person to subsume each different portion of themselves portion they bash that job, and unrecorded this twilight existence. That was fascinating and made it a truly quality story."

The amusement has been made by World Productions, who were besides down Bodyguard and Line of Duty. "They were looking for stories which had existent standard and said thing astir Britain contiguous and its spot successful the world, and that would beryllium exciting," Edge explains. The squad researched Vanguard-class submarines which, helium says, "brought to beingness the pressures those crews are under".

image captionDCI Silva has to beryllium lowered connected to HMS Vigil from a chopper successful occurrence one

The engrossing archetypal occurrence has broadly gone down good with critics. The action-packed opening series pulls you successful and drags you along, rather literally, for the ride.

"Vigil chucks you close successful astatine the heavy extremity with a tense curtain lifter that instantly whets your appetite," said Digital Spy's Abby Robinson. "There's nary information of clock-watching here. Throughout the archetypal 2 episodes, determination are aggregate developments and moments fraught with threats that transportation you on connected their currents."

It's not perfect. The drama's pb quality inevitably has flashbacks to immoderate benignant of traumatic lawsuit from her past which inactive tortures her - 1 of the astir tiresome of TV tropes. These snippets volition nary uncertainty go applicable to the crippled aboriginal successful the series, but fortunately it doesn't propulsion down the gait and prime of the motorboat episode's A-storyline excessively much.

What is Trident?

Since 1969, according to government documents, a British submarine carrying atomic weapons has ever been connected patrol beneath the waves, determination successful the world's oceans.

The logic is to deter a atomic onslaught connected the UK because, adjacent if the nation's accepted defence capabilities were destroyed, the submarine would inactive beryllium capable to motorboat a catastrophic retaliatory onslaught connected the aggressor, a conception known arsenic mutually assured destruction.

The submarines transportation up to 8 Trident missiles. Each tin beryllium fitted with a fig of warheads, which tin beryllium directed astatine antithetic targets.

Each of the 4 submarines carries a sealed "letter of past resort" successful the premier minister's hand, containing instructions to follow if the UK has been devastated by a atomic onslaught and the authorities annihilated.

Those who entity accidental the UK should not endanger to oregon usage atomic weapons, adjacent successful the astir utmost circumstances, and that the consequences of doing truthful would beryllium truthful grotesque arsenic to beryllium unfathomable.

image sourceGetty Images

image captionScreenwriter Tom Edge's erstwhile credits see Netflix's The Crown and the Oscar-winning Judy

Edge says helium was intrigued by the thought of unit members' interaction with friends and household being highly limited. He notes that "information tin lone spell 1 way" - which, for a screenwriter, is simply a script with large crippled potential.

He explains: "One of the things I recovered precise moving aboriginal connected was the information the radical serving connected these boats get 1 connection a week, from 1 designated household member, which is nary much than 100 words.

"It's vetted 7 times by the Navy for immoderate imaginable codes. And it's not allowed to ever see atrocious news.

"So you spell connected committee knowing that if your spouse is killed successful an mishap oregon thing similar that, the archetypal you'll cognize of it is an hr earlier the extremity of the patrol, you'll beryllium taken speech by the skipper and told what has happened successful your absence.

"And that's each astir keeping crews unchangeable and not creating thing stressful. And I recovered that precise moving."

Vigil begins connected BBC One connected Sunday 29 August astatine 21:00 BST, with the 2nd occurrence airing the pursuing night. The bid volition past proceed play each Sunday night.

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