Bancroft is a British thriller drama series that premiered on ITV on December 11, 2017. A second season for the show aired since January 2020.
Reviews on the series have been a mixed bag: some critics loved the series, while some largely hated it. Nonetheless, it had fan interest piqued throughout its two-season run for a variety of different reasons (all of which will be discussed below).
Here are the essentials on Bancroft:
Bancroft revolves around the titular Detective Chief Superintendent Elizabeth Bancroft. A detective of a seemingly infallible moral exterior, beloved by her peers and earmarked for a promotion, Bancroft harbors a dark secret that could sabotage not only her career but her whole life.
More conniving than she lets on, Bancroft doesn't hesitate to stoop to any lows to keep her secret from coming out.
Her nefarious secret has something to do with the 1990 murder of Laura Fraser. When the case re-opens and her colleague, Detective Sergeant Katherine Stevens, is tasked with putting the case to bed for good, Bancroft can see her life slipping before her eyes. She intricates herself in the case under the guise of helping solve it, but in reality, she is just covering her tracks.
Her desperate and ingenious cover-up attempts and Katherine Stevens' fastidious determination to find the true perpetrator pits them at odds, even if the latter doesn't know it yet.
Sarah Parish plays Detective Chief Superintendent Elizabeth Bancroft. An outwardly-virtuous detective with a nefarious past. She had at least some part in the 1990 murder of Laura Fraser. The series follows her desperate attempts at burying the past under the guise of helping with the investigation.
Faye Marsay plays Detective Sergeant Katherine Stevens, a novice detective sergeant under Elizabeth Bancroft tasked with closing the 1990 Laura Fraser murder case. Due to her involvement with the case, Bancroft has Katherine in her crosshairs, though the latter doesn't know it yet.
Adam Long plays Joe Bancroft, the only son of Elizabeth Bancroft. To keep her secret from spilling, Elizabeth goes as far as setting her son up with Laura Fraser in a hail-mary attempt at keeping her friends close and her enemies closer.
Adrian Edmondson plays Superintendent Clifford Walker.
Charles Babalola plays Detective Sergeant Andy Bevan, Katherine Stevens's peer, and former lover.
Lee Boardman as Detective Inspector George Morris.
Ryan Mcken as Daanish.
Critical and fan reception for Bancroft have been polarizing: some loved the show, and some were not so enthused about the show.
On IMDb, the series holds a 6.7/10 rating based on 2,053 reviews.
The other end of that scale is its poor reception on Rotten Tomatoes. Currently, the first season of the series holds a 17% approval rate based on 6 critic reviews.
Among the ones who gave a positive reaction on the show was Ed Power, writing for Independent, who praised Sarah Parish's performance.
He started his review off by saying:
"If you like bonkers, you’ll love Bancroft. Built around a tornado-strength performance by Sarah Parish as a sort of Wicked Witch of regional policing, series one back-flipped from silly to hysterical and was never less than compelling. The second series, it is a pleasure to report, is even more barking."
He concluded his report by saying:
"Baroque and hilariously off the wall, Bancroft gets 2020 started with a bang. It isn’t for everyone. Those who enjoy plausibility, coherent plotting and dialogue vaguely related to the way people speak in the real world may struggle to stay the course. But if you’re up for champagne-fountain-quantities of gothic camp disguised, rather thinly, as an ITV police drama, it is thoroughly recommended."