Lennie James is back as distraught father, Nelly, looking for his daughter in the second series of Sky Atlantic’s stand-out drama
Save Me Too, Sky Atlantic, 9pm ★★★★
Those seeking clues as to how the second series of Save Me might play out got their answer when Nelly (Lennie James) was given a new yellow coat for his birthday. He smiled and then placed a hand on the grubby puffer he had worn throughout the first series: “I’m going to give this one one more night.” The message was clear: nothing here is going to change.
The opening episode of Save Me Too, which picked up 17 months on from the series one finale, was similarly tense and nasty, with a climax – the murder of paedophile Gideon Charles (Adrian Edmondson) – that can’t be as straightforward as it first seemed. It now looks likely that a game of cat-and-mouse will spool out, as DS Shola O’Halloran (Nadine Marshall) tries to convict Nelly of a crime he surely didn’t commit – so what’s the twist?
The missing child premise is common enough – Kiri and The Missing both pivoted on a similar set-up – but this show is the best of the lot. That’s entirely down to the cast. Each character is cracked with flaws and stacked with redeeming features. You scrutinise them, look a bit harder, and still they don’t quite make sense.
Suranne Jones and Lennie James: Save Me shows a world we don’t see outside EastEnders
As Nelly, Lennie James, who also writes the show, combines charisma with a viciousness that has everyone treading carefully. His friend Goz (Thomas Coombes) is loyal but isn’t there just a fleck of fear there, too? And Susan Lynch as Stace, landlord of The Palm Tree, where this crowd likes to drink, puffs on a vape, pours another pint, and convinces you that she’s the kindest of the lot.
As Nelly’s birthday got into full swing, balloons bouncing off the ceiling, it was easy to forget what kind of a show Save Me Too actually is. We could have been watching a slight comedy with a colourful cast of characters ribbing each other.
But that is precisely its power. Look how easily our normal lives can be plunged into darkness. Every parent’s nightmare has happened to Nelly. Well then, it could happen to anyone.