Paradox Artwork

DI Rebecca Flint –
Tamzin Outhwaite

Dr Christian King –
Emun Elliott

DS Ben Holt –
Mark Bonnar

DC Callum Gada –
Chiké Okonkwo

DCI Sarah Bower –
Pooky Quesnel

Simon Manning –
Lorcan Cranitch

Amelia James –
Abigail Davies

Written by –
Lizzie Mickery

Directed by –
Simon Cellan Jones

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Episode 1 - first transmitted 24th November 2009

Rebecca Flint, senior police officer, is sent to deal with a scientist at a research establishment whose work is very hush hush. Dr King explains that a series of bizarre and unhelpful images have been beamed onto his computer during a period of heightened sunspot activity. These images are of a disaster, a disaster that it appears will take place in approximately ten hours time. There are just enough clues in the images to intrigue Flint into investigating until she is convinced enough to try and avert the disaster. But how can she succeed when she doesn’t know what the disaster is, where it will be and how it will happen and her only clues are a coffee cup, a single woman’s driving licence and the mobile phone belonging to a failing executive?

PARADOX is the new BBC thriller series that might initially have been mistaken as an attempt to copy America’s FLASHFORWARD. It actually bears more of a resemblance to the police procedural series such as FRINGE or ELEVENTH HOUR in which a series of clues each week lead to a scientific crime of the week being uncovered. In this case the clues are the images, which at first seem random, but which slowly build up into a picture of what is to come. This being the first episode, there is a team to be introduced, but there is not attempt to establish a background, just getting on with the story and allowing the characters to emerge through their dialogue and actions.

Tamzin Outhwaite gets the most screen time and the show is built around her, but her character is pretty bland and not particularly interesting. The rest of her team don’t get enough attention to make an impact just yet. Emun Elliott’s Dr King, however, is a collection of tics and mannerisms. Nobody in real life is as sinister as this man is made to appear, which undermines the believability of the show, which is really doesn’t need since the plotting itself has enough in the way of faults to do that.

It is hard to believe that a scientist would have the clout to get a senior police officer sent straight around to see him without a major crime being reported, it is hard to believe that the officers in contact with a soon-to-be victim on a train don’t tell him to pull the emergency cord or evacuate the train whilst they have time and even more so that they don’t think to close the road in question since it is a tiny rural side road. The biggest error, though, is that officers stop and shout at a tanker to stop when they could be blaring out their car horn to much greater effect.

That said, the plot does clip along at a good pace, spurred on by the big red countdown clock in the background. The jigsaw puzzle being pieced together is random enough to start with, but comes together quite nicely and the story does stick with the courage of its convictions to go to a conclusion that an American equivalent would be more likely to shy away from.

The minimal effects used are good and the laboratory setting is sufficiently impressive to suggest a top secret research facility.

PARADOX has clear possibilities and it will be interesting to see whether the plot hole issues and bland character problems will be ironed out over the rest of the series.

Written by Lizzie Mickery
Directed by Simon Cellan Jones


Episode 2 - first transmitted 1st December 2009

Rebecca and her team are called back in again when another set of images appear on Dr King's computer screen, these purporting to show the imminent death of a young boy. Clues include a padlock, a pigeon and, more usefully, a car number plate. One image is held back from her team, the image of he colleague and lover Ben, lying dead.

The second episode of the show and the pattern is starting to settle down already. The team are still struggling with the consequences of their situation (being able to change the future doesn't mean that it's a good idea etc) and the potential impact on their normal lives, leading to stress and conflict, not least since Rebecca and Ben slept together at the the end of their last case.

King is theorising that the images are being beamed from a parallel universe where these things have already happened, but has no evidence or proof of that. His senior colleagues are certainly acting all strange and sinister over the discovery.

All of which takes second billing to the police procedural as the team track down a kidnapper of the child only to have him killed in a car accident and the frantic search that follows for the trapped boy. There's no motives for the kidnapping, just the fact that it's happened and the water is rising.

Still, the countdown system works well, not least because this time it's a countdown to the death of one of the team as well and it's all very, very watchable entertainment. Whether it makes any sense is something else.

Written by Lizzie Mickery
Directed by Simon Cellan Jones


Episode 3 - first transmitted 8th December 2009

Somewhere, in a few hours time, someone is going to be dead, probably as a result of being hit in the neck with a high-heeled shoe, and it has something to do with a beauty salon. DI Flint and her team have fewer images to work with, but a better idea of who the perpetrator of the crime will be. Unfortunately, they don't all agree.

It's the third outing for this cop show with a science fiction twist and it neatly avoids becoming a stale template by throwing in a multiepisode plot arc that allows some of the images to be red herrings (for the present investigation at least) to send members of the team off in different directions.

The tension in the team (and in this show there has to be tension between the team) comes from differences of opinion over the identity of the killer (or will-be killer). Those differences bloom into a full on ego battle that isn't helped by revelations about Flint's past life and Ben finding out about the image of his own death that was narrowly averted last time out.

The investigation phase of the story works well enough, but as the clock ticks down to zero and all the images come into play (or not this time), hunches and just plain luck play far too big a part in the outcome.

what is nice is the twist which shows that averting the event isn't the same as getting justice and setting up future episodes.

There are still questions for the show to answer such as why has nobody set an alarm on the computer to detect when the images are beamed in and so give more time to avert disaster? They are quibbles at the moment, but they could develop into major holes if the show is not careful. For the moment, though, it remains solidly entertaining.

Written by Lizzie Mickery
Directed by Simon Cellan Jones


Episode 4 - first transmitted 15th December 2009

More images are downloaded in two batches and one of them shows a body burned beyond recognition. The team swing into action immediately, but there's something about these images and the people they relate to that doesn't quite add up.

The story here sticks to the investigation rather than interpersonal squabbles and so is more driven and focussed than some of the previous three. Nobody is doubting anymore, just getting on with the job. The twist that is revealed late on is predictable from the moment that the images download, but it is a good one even if you do see it coming, setting up a dramatic climax that displays the show's faith in its characters and the courage of its own convictions.

Even the main plot arc moves intriguingly forward.


Episode 5 - first transmitted 22nd December 2009

The latest images downloaded from...wherever, show a group of children murdered, Ben's daughter amongst them and what appears to be Rebecca's hand holding the automatic weapon responsible. Whilst Rebecca, Ben and Dr King attempt to track down and stop this event, Callum is haunted by their failure to prevent the serial rapist murdering again and decides that the messages mean something quite different to him.

What starts off here as just another investigation for the team, made more personal and urgent by the inclusion of Ben's daughter (these personal links every week are starting to get a little unlikely) and Rebecca's hand on the gun, turns out to have a remarkable twist waiting at the end to set up the next series. Changing the future comes with a price tag attached, it appears.

And then there's the wear and tear on the team. Ben takes some questionable steps to ensure the safety of his daughter, putting his job at risk since he can't actually explain to his direct superiors what's going on because of the secrecy around the project, but it is Callum's story that is the more shocking. The actions he takes are documented with a clinical detachment that allows Chiké Okonkwo to show Callum's conflict and pain, but leaves the moral judgements to the audience.

This is the last in the series and whilst the format is beginning to show signs of repetitiveness that need to be tackled, the places that it has left its characters require that a second series be put in the works. We want to know what happens to these people and where the signals are coming from and what is their purpose. BBC take note.


Press Statement

PARADOX is due on our screens in November and to get us in the mood here's what the BBC have to say about it:

"This gripping 5 x 60'series for BBC One stars Tamzin Outhwaite (The Fixer, Hotel Babylon) as Detective Inspector Rebecca Flint, who is thrown together with Space Scientist Dr Christian King (Emun Elliott) when a series of rogue images are transmitted from space into his laboratory. The fragmented images appear to be of a major incident but, shockingly, they also suggest it is yet to happen – it's in the future.

With each episode of this high-concept and intriguing series set to a relentless ticking clock, Christian, Rebecca and her team, DS Ben Holt (Mark Bonnar) and DC Callum Gada (Chiké Okonkwo), face a race against time as they only have 18 hours to put together the clues of this most complex of jigsaw puzzles and try to prevent almost certain tragedy. The reason how, and why, these images are being transmitted to them is a mystery. Forced to intervene in the course of destiny, the underlying question posed throughout Paradox is: "If you could see the future, would you change it?"

"We knew there was an appetite for a big, bold, fresh take on the cop show," explains Murray Ferguson, chief executive of Clerkenwell Films. "Something that might be different from the traditional formula of investigating a crime that has already taken place. So, we began to consider what if we could find a means of telling that story in reverse? Is there an original and credible way of a police team finding themselves with the knowledge of crimes or disasters happening in the future?" For Murray and the rest of the Clerkenwell team, the next challenge was to find a writer who could mould this idea and create a plausible set-up."We wanted the show to feel like it really could happen in the world we all know," continues Murray.

"I've always been interested in the decisions you're not aware you are making," reveals writer Lizzie Mickery. "You turn left, go home and nothing happens. You turn right and you get hit by a bus. "Our futures are out there but we all have absolutely no idea of where we are heading. That is where I started with Paradox – the moral and emotional implications of having the ability to change the future."

For acclaimed director Simon Cellan Jones, setting up a new series was a fresh challenge. "It was exhilarating to work on a show that relies so heavily on energy and adrenalin, and I loved the idea of taking a high concept and grounding it in a tough, visually arresting reality" explains Simon. "I was initially wary because I thought it was a sci-fi show but, when I read the scripts, I realised it wasn't that at all. It was something much darker and deeper and when I came on board I was excited about setting up the whole show, creating the look and getting involved with casting. . "I hope we surprise the audience," says Simon. "In a way, I want them to expect it will be a mainstream, commercial, American-style drama and then be surprised when they see it is rooted it in reality. While shooting, I wanted the actors to be immersed in the action rather than set back from it and I didn’t want it over elaborately staged. "We had a fantastic set so it was very easy to put the camera right among things rather than have this overlooking rather detached feel." To add to the tension and maintain the cracking pace of each episode, production built a countdown timer into the Prometheus laboratory. "We felt this could work well because it is an engaging way of reminding the audience that time is elapsing," explains Simon. "I see Paradox as a character-driven thriller that maintains a heart-stopping adrenaline pace and the ticking clock helps keep viewers involved and in the room. We don’t want to allow the audience to relax. I was also massively ambitious. I wanted to include big action shots but also maintain the intimacy, immediacy and reality of the show. I always set out to shoot far more than one would expect."








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