9-10 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, April 24 and 26
LONDON -- Coming from Carnival Films, the stable that created the spooky series "Sea of Souls," the BBC's two-part supernatural thriller "Life Line" requires viewers to suspend more than the average amount of disbelief. It demands an acceptance that human spirits may float independent of bodies and that when one body expires, a determined spirit can easily settle on another.
Those willing to go along with that notion and capable of overlooking some pretty lame dialogue may find the drama's central dilemma mildly diverting. Ray Stevenson plays a bluff, middle-aged businessman named Peter Brisco who has made himself rich without finding any real happiness. Returning to London from overseas for the wedding of his younger brother (Barnaby Kay), he happens to spot his long-lost love, Katy (Joanne Whalley), on the street. They had split up 15 years earlier, and she has had a partner, Jack (Adrian Rawlings), for the past decade. But when Peter and Katy meet, their old love flares again, and she decides to leave Jack. Before she can, she is knocked down and killed in a traffic accident.
Having rediscovered Katy's love only to have it snatched from his grasp forever, Peter is so grief-stricken and vulnerable that when he discovers Life Line, a sort of chat room for recently departed spirits, he becomes obsessed. When he encounters a similar bereft young woman named Catt (Jemima Rooper), he gradually comes to believe that she is the conduit for Katy's spirit. But if one spirit can move about independently, so may others, and the issue of Catt's identity begins to threaten Peter's sanity.
This kind of nonsense requires craftsmanship in the making, and director Jamie Payne and his crew do much to gloss over the holes in Stephen Gallagher's teleplay. It could do with more flair and suspense, however. Stevenson makes Peter's despair believable if not entirely his gullibility, and Rooper makes a spirited Catt. Whalley is very appealing as the doomed lover, but she doesn't get as much screen time as the others, and that's too bad. Something this silly really benefits from her movie-star radiance.
A Carnival Films production for BBC Scotland
Teleplay: Stephen Gallagher
Director: Jamie Payne
Producer: Tim Bradley
Executive producers: Anne Mensah, Gareth Neame
Director of photography: Mike Southon
Production designer: Michael Relph
Editor: Nick Arthurs
Costume designer: Joe Hobbs
Composer: Dominik Scherer
Peter Brisco: Ray Stevenson
Catt: Jemima Rooper
Katy: Joanne Whalley
Jack: Adrian Rawlings
Tony: Barnaby Kay
Ruth: Yasmin Bannerman
Heather: Beth Cordingly
Vanessa Wu: Maye Choo
Eric: Fidel Nanton
Eurostar Hostess: Catherine Siggins
Carl: Conor Milner
Nancy: Morgan Gayle
Howard Baker: Gresby Nash
Doctor: Richard Betts