Traces: Best TV shows of 2021

Traces: everything you need to know about the BBC forensic crime thriller

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Starring Line Of Duty’s Martin Compston, BBC drama Traces is based on an original idea by best-selling crime writer Val McDermid.

Updated on 5 January 2021: Traces is finally available to stream via the BBC.

The forensic crime drama – which originally aired on UKTV’s Alibi – is poised to become one of 2021’s must-watch shows, and the first episode dropped on BBC One on 4 January (much to the delight of many Stylist team members).

Missed it? Here’s what you need to know about the TV series.

What’s the plot of Traces?

As reported on 21 December 2020: “Set in Scotland and exploring the world of SIFA, the Scottish Institute of Forensic Science, Traces introduces us to three compelling and very different female characters – Emma Hedges, Prof. Sarah Gordon, and Prof. Kathy Torrance – who together will use the rigors of forensics to uncover the truth about an unsolved murder case,” reads the official synopsis.

The synopsis continues: “When 23-year-old Emma Hedges returns to Scotland to take up a new position as a lab assistant at SIFA, she signs up to an online course which teaches the principles of forensic science.

“But she soon discovers that the fictitious case study has a strikingly similar and shocking link to her past. As Emma’s sleuthing takes her into darker corners and unpicks more and more secrets, it becomes clear that she should trust no-one.

“It will be Sarah and Kathy’s exacting minds that reward Emma’s faith in the science that has fuelled her imagination and who will ultimately bring a killer to justice.

Is there a trailer for Traces?

The BBC has released a full trailer for Traces, which you can watch below:

Who stars in the cast of Traces?

Molly Windsor, who won a BAFTA for playing Holly Winshaw in Three Girls, leads the cast of Traces as Emma Hedges.

Laura Fraser and Jennifer Spence star as Prof. Sarah Gordon, and Prof. Kathy Torrance respectively, and Michael Nardone takes on the role of D.I. Neil McKinven.

Line Of Duty’s Martin Compston, meanwhile, finally gets the chance to flex his natural Scottish accent as Emma’s love interest, Daniel McAfee.

And, as if that weren’t enough star-power to lure you in, the series also boasts the talents of Laurie Brett, Morayo Akandé, John Gordon Sinclair, Joana Borja, Anna Leong Brophy, Neve McIntosh, and many more.

What are people saying about Traces?

The show has received middling reviews, with many dubbing it an “easy” and “addictive” watch– albeit one which has a “bad habit of spraying coincidences and startling revelations like machine-gun fire.”

That being said, though, it sounds like a must-watch for all those who proudly refer to themselves as “crime addicts.”

Why? Well, because (to quote the Metro’s Sarah Deen) it’s a show that allows “the forensic side of the police work to take centrestage, rather than some broody policeman with a tortured past.”

This, they add, “feeds directly into the true crime fascination. It’s the minutiae, the evidence that points one way or wildly in another that keeps people hooked.”

How many episodes of Traces will there be?

Season one of Traces is made up of a very manageable six episodes, each of which clocks in at about an hour long.

When will Traces be available to watch on the BBC?

Traces will begin airing weekly on BBC One on Monday 4 January at 9pm, with the whole series also available to stream on BBC iPlayer after the first episode has aired.

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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