Could Northern Ireland host the next Hollywood?

From The Fall to Game of Thrones, the TV industry's big-hitters are moving in

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I have had quite a response to my column last week about the little things that irritate me about modern life, and what struck a particular chord was my rant about the fashion in TV these days for ending an episode of a drama series with a preview of the following week.

It is, I believe, another tiny example of how, as a society, we are encouraged away from reflection and led towards instant gratification. No point in living in the here and now: there's another excitement just around the corner. What with Twitter and all the other blandishments of the digital world, it's hard enough to live in the moment as it is. A little thing, I know, but representative of a wider malaise.

I had another attack of trailer rage at the conclusion of this week's instalment of the BBC2 drama The Fall, a taut drama about a serial killer in Belfast. I hadn't had time to consider the impact of what I had just seen, or process the shocking denoument of the episode, before we were on to next week. Please give us a moment to digest this three-course thriller, replete with murder, intrigue and suspense.

The Fall is possibly the best home-grown piece of work on television for some time. I know we are in something of a golden era of British TV drama, but there is a particular texture to this series which sets it apart. The acting is magnificent: Gillian Anderson, who in her role as the glacial detective leading the hunt for the serial killer is every bit as convincing as she was in her award-winning portrayal of Lady Dedlock in Bleak House. The direction, too, is handled with Hitchcockian precision and economy by the Belgian Jakob Verbruggen.

And while it may not have quite the narcotic quality of Broadchurch or the mass appeal of Downton Abbey, it has an otherness, an atmosphere of implicit threat, that makes it a quite singular work. It is certainly not easy on the eye, and the warning prior to the show that there are scenes which viewers might find disturbing is, for once, on the money. There are times during The Fall when you can't watch, but you can't take your eyes away either. Belfast is more than a backdrop, too. It's a character in its own right, providing an edginess, a darkness and a complexity that is weaved into the plot.

The Fall is another example of the growing strength of Northern Ireland's burgeoning film industry. The province now has the infrastructure and the financial advantages to attract the global big hitters from the entertainment world: the massively successful TV series Game of Thrones is made there, and this week Universal announced that their new Dracula movie will be filmed at various locations throughout the country.  Who'd have thought it? Northern Ireland already has its own Holywood, but will it become the new Hollywood?

That may be too much to ask, but for the time being we should revel in The Fall, an utterly compelling drama which, as well as giving the city of Belfast a leading role, has ensured a run on bookings for room 203 at the Hilton Hotel. 

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