Trueman & Riley
By Brian B. Thompson
Rated: 5 stars *****
Review written by Louise
When I noticed Robert Daws was tweeting about Trueman & Riley being available on Audible, I thought I would take some time to listen and decided I would review. It’s written by BAFTA-Winning dramatist Brian B. Thompson, who brought us Byker Grove amongst others. Robert Daws co-created this series.
Brian B. Thompson, Robert Daws and Duncan Preston are masters at their craft and have been involved in many, many well-known projects on screen and theatre, from Dinner Ladies to The Royal, to Ten Times Table. You can find more about them below, after my review…
First things first. This is a series that will entertain and is definitely worth listening to and I do highly recommend it. You will find this BBC drama on Audible these days.
Trueman and Riley is crime fiction, with episodes being complete within themselves. They’re mysterious and endearing with a mix of the serious and humour, with Trueman – played by Robert Daws and Riley played by Duncan Preston solving together. They are put together to work, but as much as they seem to get on with each other, they both have different ways of working and differing attitudes.
Duncan Preston and Robert Daws play their parts very well. Both are strong, enjoyable actors who certainly know how to entertain and shift from humour to the serious. Their timing is extremely good. They’ve definitely brought the scripts to life exceedingly well and convincingly, in what was originally for BBC radio.
As for Brian B. Thompson, well, his script-writing is terrific. The characterisation is so well thought out as more about his characters – Trueman and Riley drip through each episode. Then there’s the crimes and subjects that are within them that are big and some of them, as well as his characters are thought-provoking, without them making for heavy listening. That’s quite a skill in itself!
As they are so good, I have decided to tell you a bit about the episodes and a little about the performances of the 2 main actors, here and there.
There are 18 episodes, so here are the first 5 to whet your appetitie to get started listening to this BBC series. Each episode lasts around 40-50 mins. They’re smart with accomplished writing and acting. They all make pleasant listening to. They aren’t cosy crime, but not gritty either, somewhere inbetween as they twist and turn with hard-hitting topics and crimes.
As mentioned before, the whole series can be found on Audible.
Trueman has been passed fit to work after time off and there’s a case to be solved. He would rather “ease” himself in, but that isn’t going to happen. There’s humour to be had between his new boss and Trueman. It’s a sharp drama. Riley and Trueman are partnered up for the cases. Trueman has his issues to bear with. He has a self-help relaxation tape he listens to…. until his phone interrupts the calm, medititive voice filling the room.
The first case is a student – Louis – shot! He has past form with drugs and there’s humour that he was studying criminology.
There’s a rather poignant bit between Trueman and Riley, when Riley thinks he has Trueman all worked out. It all gets rather thought-provoking about everyone being human. You can really get the feeling that Robert Daws understands his character – Trueman and between his acting and the script, he’s created a very believable character, with light and shade and determination and poignancy.
Duncan Preston plays Trueman’s opposite well too as his character tries to accept they’ve got to work together and has perfect timing.
The case is rather intriguing as fellow student – Amy is questioned, who Trueman humours with asking for her opinion. It’s intriguing as there’s no evidence to be easily found. There’s interesting ways people link, such as the university professor and Amy being raped previous to the murder of Louis. The connections between Louis, Professor Crichton and Amy and a time capsule are interesting in their twists and turns and powerful people hiding behind their titles and their “superiority” and “egos”.
The second case takes place at a race course at Angel Heights. Emma – a stable jockey is found murdered. There are hard-hitting topics of the hinting at what goes on within the racing world. Huntley is suspected at not going by the morals of rules. In an uncomfortable sounding room, listeners find out a little bit about Trueman and Riley’s life, their marital status.
It’s interesting attitudes in the stables and there’s some jealousy around Emma’s success. Things get interesting with Keith giving tips and there’s more than meets the eye going on with under-hand tactics. There’s mysterious love letters uncovered as are Huntley’s archaic views.
There’s humour between Riley and Trueman with Riley looking for horse tips and enjoying breakfast a bit too much for Trueman’s liking. Robert Daws and Duncan Preston play the 2 characters being friendly enough, but also rubbing each other the wrong way at times with great drama and to good effect. It’s pretty realistic.
The Road to Hull is where Terry Stuart is unexpected met. It turns out he’s an ex-con. There’s forgery in the club and it’s quite funny how unobservant to Trueman, Riley is being, you’ll need to listen in to find out why. Robert Daws and Duncan Preston just seem to play off each other very well, creating a very fine performance.
From crime to bus driving and secrets of missing people, this is an intriguing tale as the past catches up on Terry and his brother Frank and Annabelle is found dead.
You should listen to see if Terry can part from Frank.
Sabotage of a Philip Larkin biopic is on the cards in this episode. Film equipment has gone missing as has the bacon… The comdic timing is impeccable! The good news is Mark Wagstaff is dead and the bad news is, Riley really wanted to actually catch him for his crimes, instead of having to investigate his death. The nonchalency of Trueman is good.
Lines of Philip Larkin are weaved through as Trueman quotes them, not that they interest Riley. Although, the way Robert Daws quotes them, could well grab the attention of anyone.
There’s a bit more of Trueman’s personal life, which is really worth knowing, such as a date, that’s rather amusing, instant and rather lovely.
There’s quite a twist at the end.
Trueman and Riley investigate a disappearance of a man during a move with his wfe and Riley and Trueman are a bit exasperated by each other. Must say, the balance between that and the professionalism of the job and friendliness are played very well by Robert Daws and Duncan Preston.
The fun duo travel to Sheffield after uncovering an email between Nick and Eileen and secrets come spilling out…
About the Writer
Brian B. Thompson
Brian has been involved in writing Coronation Street, The Bill, Quayside and won a BAFTA for Byker Grove. I must add, it was a well-deserved award and had us kids hooked each week on it.
About the Actors
Robert trained at RADA. He is an actor on stage, screen and radio. He is also an author.
His many television credits include: Dr Gordon Ormerod in eight series of The Royal, Sam Mountjoy in three series of John Sullivan’s Roger Roger and Tuppy Glossop in four series of Jeeves and Wooster. Also, Roger Dervish in the award- winning Outside Edge. (Nominated Best Actor-British Comedy Awards). He has also appeared in Father Brown, Death in Paradise, Midsomer Murders, New Tricks, Doc Martin, Casualty, The Bill, Lovejoy, A Bit of Fry and Laurie and many more… He has also appeared in films – An Unkind Word and Swimming With Men to name but a few…
Theatre work includes Most recently Alan Ayckboun’s Ten Times Table, Michael Frayn’s Alarms and Excursions and Sir Alan Ayckbourn’s hit comedy, How The Other Half Loves. Other plays include Sherlock Holmes, Yes Prime Minister, Diary Of A Nobody at the Theatre Royal, Blackbird for which Robert was nominated for Best Actor in the Manchester Evening News Drama Awards. He has also appeared in Summoned by Betjeman.
A regular contributor on radio as actor and broadcaster, Robert has read biographies of both P.G Wodehouse and John Betjeman for Radio 4 and co-created the long running radio series, with writer Brian B Thompson, Trueman and Riley, in which he plays D.I Trueman. He also played Prof. David Poll in the comedy series Higher by Joyce Bryant and Arthur Lowe in Roy Smiles, Dear Arthur, Love John. Also, Goodnight From Him, in which he plays Ronnnie Barker in the story of the Two Ronnies, Incredible Women by Rebecca Front and Jeremy Front and others… He has also happily recorded audios for Dr Who and Torchwood for Big Finish.
Books – His first crime novella, The Rock, was published in 2012 and made the top of the Amazon Bestseller list five times.
His second Sullivan and Broderick murder mystery, The Poisoned Rock, was published in Sept 2016. His third in the series, Killing Rock, His ghost story, Tunnel Vision – also set in Gibraltar, is Amazon No 1 bestseller.
The books are now being republished by a different publisher, which is exciting. I have also been informed by the publisher there is a new book on the way too. Please do look out for publicity on all of the books. They are great reads and I’ll also be involved in reviews for them, so please do also look out for those.
He has had many appearances in television productions written by Victoria Wood including his roles of Clifford in the soap opera parody sketches Acorn Antiques, including Acorn Antiques the musical. He also appeared as Stan in the sitcom Dinner Ladies.His other television roles include appearing in EastEnders, Coronation Street and Emmerdale. He played Jonathan Haslam in the sitcom Surgical Spirit. He has also appeared in The Royal, The New Statesman, Press Gang, Midsomer Murders, Dalziel and Pascoe, My Family and more.
In theatre, he has appeared in many Shakespearean productions, including MacBeth and has also been in other plays such as – To Kill a Mockingbird.
He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by the University of Bradford for his contributions as an actor.