‘Contrived and cliched’: Bloodlands receives mixed reaction from audiences

James Nesbitt stars in new thriller linked to The Troubles

Ellie Harrison
Tuesday 23 February 2021 14:53
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Bloodlands trailer

Bloodlands, the new Northern Ireland-set crime drama starring James Nesbitt, premiered on BBC One last night (21 February).

The show stars Nesbitt as a police officer pulled into a kidnapping case that links back to The Troubles. By investigating the crime, he risks jeapordising the hard-won peace of present-day Northern Ireland.

While the series has been well-received by critics, some viewers have expressed disappointment over the way Northern Ireland is depicted in the series due to its emphasis on The Troubles – the sectarian conflict that took place between 1968 to 1998.

“Bit disappointing for me,” wrote one viewer. “From Northern Ireland and having lived through the ‘Troubles’, maybe I’m just too close to it. Overloaded with NI stereotypes and obviously very much written for a GB audience. I thought it was quite contrived and cliched. 5/10 #Bloodlands.”

Read more - Bloodlands review: James Nesbitt eases into the role of a troubled policeman like a favourite coat

Another said: “I enjoyed Bloodlands. But feel that audiences in the UK might like to see a portrayal of Northern Ireland that doesn’t centre on violent crime, the troubles or police corruption. Our tourism businesses would certainly favour more scenery and baked cake-based drama.”

Many others piled praise on the series, with some Northern Irish viewers happy to see the country feature in a BBC prime-time drama.

“Thoroughly enjoyed #Bloodlands great to see a drama filmed at home in Northern Ireland,” wrote one person. “Absolutely hooked from start to finish #jamesnesbitt is incredible.”

A second said: “Enjoyed the first episode of #Bloodlands. Love seeing our wee country on the tv #Belfast #NorthernIreland.”

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A third added: “Excellent first episode of Bloodlands! So great to see another drama come out of Northern Ireland.”

Reviews of the show were also mixed. The Independent’s Ed Cumming wrote in his four-star review that “Nesbitt eases into the role like a favourite coat”. He added that The Troubles is a fitting backdrop for a “tortuous” crime thriller: “With so much divided loyalty, family allegiance and simmering resentment swirling around, it doesn’t take much to imagine cases from 20 years ago rearing their heads.”

The Guardian’s Lucy Mangan wrote in another four-star review: “This four-parter is enjoyably dense with enough black humour to let it breathe.” She added that “Bloodlands is shaping up to be a fine addition to the growing genre of Irish noir, which draws power from its concentration on place as well as plot”.

The Irish Times’s critique of the drama was not so favourable, with Ed Power writing: “So grim – and a seriously bad advertisement for a weekend break in Belfast.”

Bloodlands airs at 9pm on Sundays on BBC One. Read The Independent’s review here.

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