Odd-couple chemistry makes The Tunnel a European union value retaining

Yes, it has the requisite over-the-top murders that every crime show needs (doesn’t anyone just get stabbed any more?), but for me The Tunnel’s real draw is the relationship between these two.

It’s not romantic – and nor will it ever be – and it doesn’t carry a father-daughter vibe, it’s two very different people who have found a respectful, caring and intelligent way to work together while navigating personal tragedies.

As DCI Karl Roebuck, Dillane has turned what could have been a cliche – a philandering cop with a heart of gold – into a character so warm and understated, you’re on his side from the word go. There’s nothing showy about him – including his wonderfully twisted brown check scarf – and his very dry British humour gives the show the light it occasionally needs.

Poesy, meanwhile, has given her Captain Elise Wassermann dignity where she could have been turned into a sideshow (Wassermann has Aspergers traits, which makes it difficult for her to register emotion and social conventions). She has no interest in inching her way to answers – it’s blunt or nothing.

They bicker, they joke (well, Karl does) and they look out for each other. It’s a relief to not be second-guessing the relationship between two leads of the opposite sex.

The shadow of Brexit does loom large over this season – the refugee crisis is building in Britain and France, children are trafficked and resentment on the right is growing.

Karl and Elise are reunited when a burning French fishing boat is discovered in British waters. When they discover that three Syrian children are missing from the boat, fears about child trafficking grow.

Meanwhile, a gas mask washes up on a beach in Kent, a colony of rats swarm a worker in the Channel Tunnel and a call-centre worker is fired after his YouTube videos go viral.

It’s all very knotty – and a lot doesn’t start to click until episode three, which ramps up the tension to hug-your-knees levels – but it is a smart examination of a very modern problem – how to handle those fleeing war-torn countries such as Syria and Iraq.

It’s not just a physical problem, either – as in where do they live, how do they make a living – it’s a mental health problem, too. How do we help those who have endured unimaginable suffering in war, such as the loss of the child or a family? Those wounds aren’t so easily seen.

You don’t need to have watched the previous two seasons of The Tunnel to pick up the show’s threads. There are enough breadcrumbs left to fill in the gaps. It’s a shame this is the show’s final season. Grim crime dramas may be a dime a dozen these days, but very few of them come with the intelligence of The Tunnel.

Louise Rugendyke

Louise is the editor of S and the Sun Herald’s TV liftout

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