Kiri is a drama that could kickstart your year

It's January. Christmas has been lost in a belch-ridden mist of over-indulgence, and the new year stretches out ahead of you, filled with unnameable terrors and 12 months of who-knows-what.
Sarah Lancashire excelled in Channel 4's new drama, KiriSarah Lancashire excelled in Channel 4's new drama, Kiri
Sarah Lancashire excelled in Channel 4's new drama, Kiri

So what better to cheer us than a raft of prestige new dramas across the main terrestrial channels?

The end of the world, Islamic terrorism, organised crime – just the type of themes to see you into 2018 with a smile.

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Meanwhile, Kiri (Channel 4, Wednesdays, 9pm) tackled race, adoption and murder.

Kiri is a young black girl from a troubled background, about to be adopted by a ‘nice’, middle-class, white family.

Social worker Miriam (Sarah Lancashire) drops her off at her birth grandparents’ home, but Kiri is abducted by her criminal father, and her body is found dumped in a local beauty spot.

It was a slow-burner this one, but from the off there was an undercurrent of unease.

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Miriam, outwardly at least, was garrulous, friendly, and caring, but at home she seemed empty, and as the episode went on, Lancashire’s bravura performance made it clear that her job was everything to her, it was the thing that defined her.

By the end of the hour, with the prospect of her passion being taken away from her, Miriam was in pieces – drunk and desperate.

You know there are still secrets to be uncovered, and there are unresolved issues to address – including the thorny subject of interracial adoption.

But on the evidence of this first episode, it’s going to be a pleasure to watch.

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Maybe 2018 isn’t going to be so bad after all – at least we can escape into our televisions.

Hard Sun (BBC1, Saturdays, 9.35pm) in contrast to Kiri, was utterly preposterous. However, the commitment of the two leads, Agness Deyn and Jim Sturgess, just about carried it off.

ITV’s big new year drama Next of Kin (Mondays, ITV, 9pm) tackled Islamic terrorism, but I couldn’t get round the issue of a welcome home party being held before the guest of honour had arrived home.