tue 22/10/2019

The Loch, ITV review - hokum shrouded in Scotch mist | reviews, news & interviews

The Loch, ITV review - hokum shrouded in Scotch mist

The Loch, ITV review - hokum shrouded in Scotch mist

New murder mystery is a Loch Ness monstrosity

Familiar faces: Laura Fraser as Annie Redford (left) and Siobhan Finneran as DCI Quigley

There’s something nasty in Loch Ness – a corpse tied to a curling stone – but, this being tellyland, the real monsters lurk on its shores. The Loch aspires to be a Scottish Broadchurch – Braidkirk? – but, alas, is nothing of the sort. The fact it is set in the fictional town of Lochnafoy – clearly based on Loch Na Fooey in Galway whose name means grave-shaped lake – is an early indication that writer Stephen Brady has not gone far to find his inspiration.

An early scene in which three students arrange a load of bones and offal in the shape of a beached Nessie – while something or someone roams in the gloaming – raises hopes of a satirical approach to Sunday night crime drama, but these are soon dashed. There’s a human heart among the animal remains. 

“We should be wearing masks,” detective Annie Redford (Laura Fraser) says to her dumb sidekick as, unaware of the stopped ticker, they take the dead meat to the abattoir. “For disguise?” “For the smell.” How we don’t laugh! 

Redford’s daughter, Evie, is one of the publicity-seeking students. Her father (Gray O’Brien, pictured right), who earns a crust taking trippers for a ride on his cruiser, makes a killing the next day. So does someone else: a bonny piano teacher (Jordan McCurrach), up for a gay tryst at lunchtime, is found dead at the bottom of a cliff. The man he had a tiff with earlier turns out to be the doctor who certifies that his life is extinct. 

Still, the scenery is lovely. “The beauty of nature bores the living shit out of me,” declares DCI Lauren Quigley (Siobhan Finneran), brought in from Glasgow to run the investigation. She is assisted by hot-shot shrink Blake Albrighton (Don Gilet, below) who arrives impressed by the local fauna: “Saw a stag – balls bigger than mine.” When Quigley discovers Evie’s connection to the tell-tale heart she boots Redford off the case. 

Everyone is hiding something. Why did schoolteacher Craig Petrie (Alastair Mackenzie) steal the pianist’s phone? Who cares? Leighton Thomas (William Ash), a bad boy out on licence, pooh-poohs the idea that Lochnafoy is a community: it’s merely “a bunch of people drawn together by lies.” 

The low-point of this ho-hum hokum comes at the end of this first episode when a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, supposedly suffering Locked-in Syndrome, suddenly opens his eyes. Perhaps the poor actor realised what a Loch Mess he’s in… 

What entertainment there is comes from spotting the same old faces in different places. Laura Fraser was recently seen in The Missing and One of Us; Gray O’Brien’s CV includes both Taggart and Corrie; Siobhan Finneran’s, apart from DowntonHappy Valley and The Moorside; Don Gilet’s EastEnders and 55 Degrees North; Alastair Mackenzie’s Monarch of the Glen and Cold Feet; and the indefatigable William Ash’s both Paranoid and The Tunnel. Casting directors don’t like to go much out of their way either. 

The best that can be said about this Jock-schlock is there are no bagpipes.

The best that can be said about this Jock-schlock is there are no bagpipes


Editor Rating: 
Average: 2 (1 vote)

Share this article


"The Loch" must rate alongside the mythical Loch Ness Monster as being a great hoax! Never before have I witnessed a large number of well known actors looking completely clueless !! They too are bemused by the horrendously drawn out mystery ? So much so that they seem to have forgotten how to act !! I sincerely hope that it's conclusion will be that the monster makes an appearance before the british film industry runs out of equity cards ??

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters

Advertising feature


A compulsive, involving, emotionally stirring evening – theatre’s answer to a page-turner.
The Observer, Kate Kellaway


Direct from a sold-out season at Kiln Theatre the five star, hit play, The Son, is now playing at the Duke of York’s Theatre for a strictly limited season.



This final part of Florian Zeller’s trilogy is the most powerful of all.
The Times, Ann Treneman


Written by the internationally acclaimed Florian Zeller (The Father, The Mother), lauded by The Guardian as ‘the most exciting playwright of our time’, The Son is directed by the award-winning Michael Longhurst.


Book by 30 September and get tickets from £15*
with no booking fee.