JAMIE Dornan became a household name after starring in Fifty Shades of Grey.
But it’s his performance as serial killer Paul Spector in The Fall that has been a revelation.
The Fall is, in essence, a series about two very different hunters seeking control.
It’s also one of the best crime dramas of recent years, mainly because of brilliant performances of its two leads, Dornan and Gillian Anderson (The X-Files) as the detective on his trail.
Former Irish-born model Dornan might be a pretty face but he also shows he’s a compelling actor with a chilling portrayal of a killer and loving family man in this untypical crime drama set in Belfast.
The city is a dangerous backdrop to what becomes an intimate look at a killer.
We see Dornan’s character Paul Spector stalking his victims, all dark-haired, professional women, and re-living his macabre murders through keepsakes and photos taken after he “spends time” with his victims.
Yet Spector doesn’t – on the face of it – scream serial killer.
He’s handsome, with a wife and two children. He works as a grief counsellor.
How he weaves these two lives together is darkly fascinating.
His murder “bag” he keeps in the ceiling above his young daughter’s bed; she has terrifying dreams and draws pictures that somehow link to Paul’s secret life.
But gradually his lies, his marriage, his job, all come apart as the police close in.
What emerges is a glimpse at a complex character we only start to understand when he reveals some of his motivation in season two.
We know he needs to be in control but we don’t really know what he’s thinking.
Just as intriguing is the other “hunter” in this series, DSI Stella Gibson wonderfully played by Anderson.
A British officer called in to review an unsolved case, Gibson also needs control, including with men.
She “selects” a good looking young DI for a one night stand only to find she “misjudged him” when he wants more.
“You don’t know what effect you have on men, Stella,” a former lover laments.
She’s cold on the surface at least, hard working, determined, a high-ranking woman in what still feels like a male-dominated police force.
Slowly she builds a profile of the killer.
The Fall doesn’t deliver the usual resolution at the end of season one. With the noose tightening, Spector tells Gibson, “It’s over”. “It’s never over for someone like you,” she responds.
Nor does it reach a typical end at season two, with fans holding out hope for a third season.
You’ll find it impossible to watch a police procedural after watching The Fall.
This is crime at its best; dark, fascinating and absorbing. It’s chilling, wonderfully written and acted and simply superior TV.