BBC One’s Better is the new thriller that should be on your radar, not least because it’s just confirmed Leila Farzad as its lead actor. Here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming series.
In the world of thrillers, the BBC most certainly knows what it’s doing. From recently released Chloe, upcoming Wolf and plans for a second series of The Pact, Time, and Vigil, the channel knows the formula for a nail-bitingly tense series.
It comes as no surprise, then, that a new suspenseful drama is making its way to our screens very soon. Better is the story of one woman’s epic battle towards redemption, to reclaim the honour and honesty she handed over to a man many years ago. The series is being produced by SISTER – who is responsible for other beloved series like This Is Going To Hurt, The Split and Landscapers – and also comes from Jonathan Brackley and Sam Vincent, the writers of Humans and Spooks.
Filming for the series has just begun in Leeds and the cast has been announced, so it’s safe to say that our excitement for the drama is very, very real.
With that, here’s everything you need to know about Better.
What is the plot of Better?
This new BBC drama is set to examine what we know to be “right” and “wrong” in the most confronting (and intriguing) of ways. It’s a tale of redemption, but also a bold thriller that will have us on the edge of our seats.
As the synopsis reads: “19 years ago, when Lou was a young police officer at her lowest ebb, and Col a low-ranking but ambitious newcomer to the Leeds underworld, their paths crossed, and they struck a deal that changed their lives forever. The bargain allowed Col to become very rich and very powerful, and Lou to turn around her failing career.
“A complex but special bond between the pair was forged, and so began Lou’s gradual slide into corruption. It started slowly, almost imperceptibly – small favours for Col here and there in return for tip-offs, a little money to help her through some tough times – but over time her criminality seeped into every aspect of Lou’s life and morphed into something far more sinister and dangerous as the stakes grew.”
It continues: “But now, when Lou’s family is brought to the brink of a tragedy that would tear apart everything she has built, she finds her conscience, for so long repressed, awakening. In determining to put right the wrongs that she has spent years rationalising and excusing, to have a second chance at a new, better life, she must first confront her own moral and ethical failings.
“To find her redemption she must bring down the man she has come to love like a brother. The man she has helped place at the head of Leeds criminal underworld. But while Col is a dangerous enemy to make, Lou’s biggest battle may yet be with herself.”
The series promises to be fast-paced, compelling and “shot through with wit and humour”, all while exploring “the complex and powerful bonds of loyalty and family”, “the power of human conscience and the need for redemption”. As the synopsis adds: “Better examines the ties that bind, the ties that define, and the ties that break.”
Who will star in Better?
The cast for the upcoming thriller has just been announced and it’s already shaping up to be a stellar one.
DI Lou Slack is the focal point of the series and leading the cast as the enigmatic detective will be Leila Farzad (I Hate Suzie, Avenue 5). Her character is set to be confident, quick-witted and wry but has always been destined to be a police officer. As the synopsis reads: “Like her father before her, a legendary detective in the same Yorkshire force, it’s in her blood. To her peers, she stands as one of the best detectives on the team, but Lou’s success lies on a foundation of deceit and corruption.”
Starring alongside Farzad will be Andrew Buchan (Broadchurch, The Honourable Woman), who will be playing Col McHugh. To all outwards appearances, he’s the Irish, charming and charismatic presence who is a successful businessman and property developer. But actually, he’s the highly disciplined and ruthless head of a powerful citywide drug trafficking gang.
Also joining the cast are Samuel Edward-Cook (Peaky Blinders) as Ceri, Lou’s husband who is deeply conflicted about her arrangement with Col, and Zak Ford-Williams (Wolfe) as Owen, their smart, imaginative and sensitive teenage son.
Ceallach Spellman (Cold Feet) will play Donal, Col’s son who fails to live up to his father’s expectations, and Carolin Stoltz (Liar) will play Alma, Col’s wife and an integral part of his inner circle.
Further cast members include Anton Lesser (Killing Eve, Game Of Thrones) as Vernon, an ex-detective who knew Lou’s dad and is now her confidante, and Olivia Nakintu (Vera) as DC Esther Okoye, Lou’s closest colleague on the force.
What has been said about Better?
Speaking about her lead role in the series, Farzad says: “Better is a brilliant fresh take on the morality tale. I am excited to have the opportunity to play Lou Slack, the vehicle through which we explore the multivalent layers of good and bad. A complex, flawed yet utterly human character. I feel very lucky to be a part of such a wonderful show with an incredibly talented team attached to it.”
Writers and executive producers Brackley and Vincent said: “We’re delirious and feel incredibly fortunate to have assembled – with SISTER and the BBC – such a gifted group of people to tell this story in the great city of Leeds, with a wealth of local Yorkshire talent on and off camera. This incredible cast are exciting us every day, pushing the show’s exploration of morality and redemption to ever more thrilling, surprising, and yet darkly funny places. With any luck, we’ve got enough brilliant people to make ourselves look good.”
Nawfal Faizullah, commissioning executive of BBC Drama also commented: “Jonathan and Sam have created an iconic character in Lou Slack, and we are delighted that Leila Farzad is bringing her to life, alongside her brilliant partner in crime, Andrew Buchan. We’re excited to be working with SISTER again and we can’t wait for audiences to be hooked by this thrilling story of redemption.”
SISTER added: “We are thrilled to have teamed up with the brilliant duo of Sam and Jon again on this series. The propulsion of their story telling and their complex characters with depth and wit is what makes Better such an incredible piece. Not anyone could evoke the complexity of unconventional hero Lou Slack – morally complicated and challenging yet with huge heart.
“Luckily we don’t just have just anyone, we have the ferocious talent of Lelia Farzad. And bringing an entirely new perspective on the modern crime boss is the equally brilliant Andy Buchan as Col McHugh. We are delighted to have these two extraordinary actors anchoring this complex thriller with lead director Jonathan Brough at the helm, bringing the streets of Leeds to life in a new and exciting way.”
When and where will Better be available to watch?
The five-part series will be coming to BBC One, and while we don’t have an exact release date just yet, we do know that the drama is currently being filmed in Leeds.
We’ll be sure to keep you updated as soon as we know more.
Watch this space for updates.