Trapped, BBC Four

FANS of northerly British crime dramas will have been delighted by the return last week of Shetland. But if we’re talking latitudinal co-ordinates in the high numbers then even Lerwick is trumped by the setting for the Scandi Noir which made its welcome return to BBC Four last night: Trapped, the Icelandic drama featuring the European Economic Area’s hairiest detective – extravagantly-bearded cop Andri Olaffson (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson) – alongside some of TV-land’s quirkiest characters and most spectacular scenery.

In series one, you may recall, Andri became snowed in while investigating a murder somewhere up north, a somewhere which had appointed him chief of police after he had left his previous post in Reykjavik under a cloud. As series two opened, he had returned to work in the capital but when a female politician was badly burned in an attempted murder in which her attacker died, and when the would-be assassin turned out to be her estranged twin brother, he found himself back on the plane to his remote former posting and re-engaging with his ex-colleagues. They are the stoical and dependable Hinrika (Ilmur Kristjánsdóttir) and the bumbling Ásgeir (Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson), who in series one could generally be relied upon to balls things up. By the end of last night’s opening double bill, after a second attempt at murder had succeeded in producing a body, it was clear his MO hadn’t changed much.

Iceland being Iceland, everyone knows everyone they aren’t already related to and the Prime Minister is on first name terms with the cops. He took a particular interest in the case because it seemed to be linked to a massive aluminium smelter being built in the area the victim and her twin were from, and to a little known political group called Hammer Of Thor. It didn’t take much sleuthing to see a connection with the far right.

Andri and Hinrika make a great team, even if they’re not quite an A-list double act like The Bridge’s Saga Noren and Martin Rohde, or the Elise Wassermann-Karl Roebuck match-up grounding its English language remake, The Tunnel. But writer, creator and occasional director Baltasar Kormákur adds enough in the way of ballast to make Trapped a serious dramatic proposition in the widest sense. His over-arching theme seems to be fear of the outsider, but the intolerance is tied up here with environmental concerns, which adds ambiguity.

The messy nature of human inter-actions features as well. In play so far are a gay inter-racial affair; the difficult relationship between Olaffson and his 15-year-old daughter, who still lives in the town; a dysfunctional family with more aunts, uncles and nephews than you can shake a snow shoe at; and the same litany of long-held small town grudges which bore deep into the events that shaped season one. Expect that list to be added to before the taciturn Andri has the case wrapped up.

Travel: Iceland

Film review: Jar City (15)