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Broadchurch Meets Big Little Lies in This Compelling New Scottish Mystery

Deadly secrets lurk in Deadwater Fell, a four-part miniseries.

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  • Photo Credit: Channel 4

All those in search of their next binge-watch, we've got you covered. Acorn TV just released a four-part miniseries starring David Tennant, and it’ll more than satisfy your need for an atmospheric mystery series that keeps the twists coming. Cush Jumbo and Matthew McNulty portray Jess Milner and Steve Campbell, a couple living a quiet life in the idyllic Scottish village of Kirkdarroch. Kirkdarroch is the kind of pastoral community where doors are left unlocked and crime is practically nonexistent. But no one is safe, as it soon turns out. Late one night, a fire breaks out in the home of the Kendrick family, trapping the family members inside.

Neighbors race to put out the blaze, but the flames are too powerful. Only Tom Kendrick (played by David Tennant) manages to survive. Tom's wife, Kate (played by Anna Madeley), and their three children, all die in the fire. 

The community of Kirkdarroch is stunned. And yet, as friends and neighbors struggle to make sense of the tragic night, and Tom recuperates from his injuries, suspicious details emerge from the haze. It appears that one of the bedrooms in the Kendrick home was padlocked shut—from the outside. Plus, needle tracks on the bodies of the deceased suggest that the family may have been drugged the night of the fire. As more disturbing details emerge, horrible thoughts creep into everyone's minds. Was the fire an accident, or did something far more sinister transpire? And if the fire was the work of one person’s vicious agenda, then could another family be next in line?

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Some villagers suspect Kate, who had a history of anxiety and depression and acted erratically in the days leading up to the fire. Others are adamant that a stranger must have committed the crime, prompting fears of a maniac on the loose in the isolated Scottish countryside. Still others, of course, suspect Tom, the only Kendrick family member to have escaped the blaze with his life. 

Steve and Jess were quite close with the Kendricks. And while everyone knows everyone in Kirkdarroch, Steve and Jess's respective roles in the community afford them special insight. As a local police sergeant, Steve reviews surveillance footage and discusses his theories with the medical examiner who conducted the autopsies on the deceased Kendrick family members—all while carrying out the unenviable task of investigating the deaths of close family friends with an objective eye. Meanwhile, Jess works at the local school, where she listens in on the many rumors whispered between parents as the official investigation unfolds. 

Both Steve and Jess replay their memories of time spent with the Kendricks, wondering if they might have missed signs that something was amiss—and if they could have prevented the tragic deaths. At the same time, Steve and Jess are keeping secrets from each other that have the potential to further unravel their fraying community.

Deadwater Fell received positive reviews when it premiered on January 10, 2020, with the first episode earning four out of five stars from both Radio Times and The Guardian. The latter outlet compared the miniseries favorably to Broadchurch (another mystery series starring David Tennant), with writer Lucy Mangan stating that it’s “easily as convincing in its portrait of a small community suddenly shattered by an awful event, and it elicits more emotional investment from the off. I'm finding it an irresistible treat.” Not only does Deadwater Fell have the emotional depth and chilly atmospheric thrills of Broadchurch, it also features an absorbing family drama in the vein of Big Little Lies, making it deeply appealing for fans of both series, as well as anyone who enjoys taut suspense.

With a star-studded cast, it’s no wonder Deadwater Fell has generated so much buzz. Cush Jumbo is best known for her role as attorney Lucca Quinn in the critically acclaimed legal and political drama The Good Wife. No stranger to drama himself, David Tennant was in Doctor Who, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and Jessica Jones. His ability to play both good and evil characters will keep viewers guessing when it comes to Tom's true motives.

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Every roughly 45-minute episode of Deadwater Fell ends on a cliffhanger, with enough twists throughout to make your head and heart spin. Even the first episode delivers a number of revelations that will leave you viewing characters you thought you knew through fresh and suspicious eyes. Shocking information is disclosed at a deliberate pace, making it impossible to know the whole truth until the very end.

Deadwater Fell manages to pack quite the punch in a relatively short season. The miniseries introduces vulnerable characters, turns viewers’ expectations upside down, and brings a compelling storyline to a satisfying ending—all in just four tightly plotted episodes. It’s an emotional rollercoaster and a brain teaser of a mystery wrapped up in one that you won’t want to miss.

You can order Deadwater Fell on Amazon today with just a few clicks, and have the DVD delivered right to your doorstep. Watch the riveting trailer below, then order Deadwater Fell to get your hands on this buzzy, atmospheric new show. Just make sure you’ve set aside enough time to binge-watch the entire series—you won’t be able to stop after the first episode.

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Featured image from "Deadwater Fell" via Channel 4