The Tourist is the Williams brothers’ best work yet – here’s why


Through: Michael hogan

What do Melanie Bunton, Geri Brown, Mel Adams, Victoria Chisholm and Emma Halliwell have in common? No, it’s not just the Spice Girls with their names mixed up. These are also the false identity documents on several passports belonging to the shady character of Shalom Brune-Franklin in The Tourist. It’s this type of gag that sums up the playful approach that thrilled audiences, and lifted them beyond what many expected.

Before 9 p.m. on New Years Day, jokes weren’t something we associated with the Williams brothers. The sibling duo Jack and Harry are prolific writers of tense and twisted TV thrillers such as The Missing, Baptiste, Liar, and Angela Black – all gripping but particularly light-hearted mysteries about LOL. But everything has changed with the current creation The Tourist.

Its quirky characters, deadpan surrealism, and heightened mood are a major departure from the couple’s previous formula, and while it’s certainly a curve for those familiar with their work, it’s also welcome. . The Tourist might just be the brothers best work to date.


The six-part film has many other advantages. The scenery of the Australian Outback, made up of dusty highways and vast skies, is visually spectacular. And frontman Jamie Dornan, with his hipster beard and tight t-shirts, isn’t exactly anti-telegenic, either.

The two female stars, enigmatic con Luci Miller (Brune-Franklin) and probation officer Helen Chambers (Danielle Macdonald) are both stars. The latter, in particular, has been a personal favorite. The villains – bear-like cowboy hitman Billy (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson), Greek gangster Kostas (Alex Dimitriades), and cancer cop DI Lachlan Rogers (Damon Herriman) – are all fascinating and charismatic creations. It is above all the difference in tone that distinguishes The Tourist.

The series peaked on the BBC last night (Sunday, January 9) with a blood-splattered shootout. After the amnesiac antihero “The Man” rescues Helen from a flying bullet, she said, “You save your life… literally.” When an injured Billy fell into a well, “The Man” couldn’t help but joke, “Good, good, good.” Luci rolled his eyes, then he added a very sincere step: “Sorry”.

This is a mainstream show where a traffic jam is caused by mating turtles; where a central plot point is provided by a cuddly koala; where a cranky psychopath tells the sheep to “do”; where two central characters take dance lessons, all the while gently pretending they’re Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray. No one is putting Jamie around.

Common jokes include dumb cop Sgt Rodney Lammon (Kamil Ellis) constantly referred to as “Lemon” and Helen cheating on his “Trim Team” diet. Cottage cheese and beetroot yet? Skip the chicken burger.

The tourist

BBC / Two Brothers Pictures / Ian Routledge

The Spirit of the Tourist’s Gallows is a welcome relief from all the death and obscurity of the Williams’ previous work. I don’t remember many lighthearted moments in Liar or Angela Black, which caused endless trauma to Principal Lady Joanne Froggatt. These shows were so relentlessly sinister that they swung into porn misery territory.

In contrast, the cuddly crime The Tourist has a quirky bluster reminiscent of Killing Eve – which the Williams has a connection to, via their former Fleabag collaborator, Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

Full of striking images, The Tourist wears his film influences on his sleeve: the Coen brothers, David Lynch, Quentin Tarantino. His sandy panoramas and his singing guitar are straight out of a spaghetti western. Indeed, the soundtrack often adds a quirky charm – see Dornan’s falsetto sing along with Bette Davis Eyes before the truck chase or the easy-to-listen chirping Billy ringing during the deadly trailer fight.

There are even romantic comedy elements as Dornan and Brune-Franklin’s exes flirt through sarcastic and insane dialogue. He is now on the run with Helen as a reluctant hostage. Their timidly blossoming friendship has the scent of an independent roadtrip, with the underdog Helen gradually regaining her confidence – hopefully enough to leave the dreadful and appalling fiancé Ethan Krum (Greg Larsen).

Alcohol is also used for the comedic effect. When “The Man” sips a beer from that bombing, he mumbles, “F ** k me, that’s adorable. Hope I wasn’t used to being an alcoholic. He and Helen later enjoy a fun and drunken session of Dirty Martini, waking up with a hangover and blackouts to prove it.

The tourist

BBC / Two Brothers Pictures / Ian Routledge

Such human touches help the series feel a lot less stereotypical than the previous Williams series, and keep the luscious plot from crumbling under the weight of its own implausibility. Jack and Harry clearly had fun writing The Tourist and their enjoyment is contagious. The show took three years to make and the couple admitted that they were more closely involved in making it happen than in any other of their projects – and this hands-on approach has paid off. It is clearly a labor of love.

Wild, witty, freewheeling play is the last thing we expected from the Williams, but The Tourist only makes it better. This is without a doubt the peak of their production to date. Dornan has never been so good either.

The question now is whether they can maintain the quality to the peak? And maybe even beyond in a potential second round? This is where too much of Williams’ earlier work has slipped in – especially single-series wonders like Rellik, Strangers, One of Us, and The Widow, with their gripping premises that end in disappointing endings.

Viewers who couldn’t resist the iPlayer boxing frenzy already know the answer. The rest of us will find out over the next three Sundays (or right now on iPlayer, if you can’t wait). Let’s keep Dornan’s whiskers and enjoy the ride.

The Tourist is available to stream on BBC iPlayer. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our TV guide or visit our Drama hub for more news, interviews and features.


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