The Long Call kicked off on ITV last night, and is an adaptation of the best-selling novel of the same name by award-winning crime writer Ann Cleeves.
The series follows DI Matthew Venn (Ben Aldridge) and DC Jen Rafferty (Pearl Mackie) as they work together to work out what happened after a body is found washed up on a beach.
The first episode seems to have had a good impression on viewers, with people already commenting on Ben Aldridge’s performance as a gay detective, starring alongside his on-screen husband Jonathan (played by Declan Bennett). DI Venn’s sexuality is an important part of the narrative, as he’s forced to return to North Devon after being rejected by his family.
Fans have praised the pilot episode for its honest portrayal of Matthew and Jonathan’s relationship, as well as the complex character that Ben plays at the heart of the story. His strained relationship with his parents is explored throughout, especially when he wasn’t allowed to be part of his father’s funeral.
Matthew grew up in a strict evangelical community, which he rejected in order to attend university. This alongside his sexuality angered his parents and he now has to face his past in order to get to the bottom of a new case.
Praising the series and Ben’s performance, one viewer wrote: “#TheLongCall this is going to be good – so amazing to have a gay detective (and played by a gay man) #benaldridge Thanks to Anne Cleeves too!
He added: “And thanks to and @benalridge_ for this wonderful character”
#TheLongCall this is going to be good – so amazing to have a gay detective (and played by a gay man) #benaldridge @BenAldridge_ Thanks to @AnnCleeves too!October 25, 2021
And thanks to @AnnCleeves and @benalridge_ for this wonderful character #thelongcall #benaldridge #matthewvennOctober 25, 2021
Another added: “Oh, I do like Matthew Venn and Ben Aldridge is perfect”
Oh, I do like Matthew Venn and Ben Aldridge is perfect #TheLongCallOctober 25, 2021
A third wrote: “Ben Aldridge is a superb actor and it’s nice to see him back on UK TV”
@BenAldridge_ is a superb actor and it’s nice to see him back on UK TV #TheLongCallOctober 25, 2021
And a fourth added: “What a great first episode of #TheLongCall. There is a lot of sinister bubbling away there. It has been cast so well. Matthew and husband are perfect. And I’m very pleased it is being shown over 4 nights. Another hit for Mrs Cleeves”
@AnnCleeves What a great first episode of #TheLongCall. There is a lot of sinister bubbling away there. It has been cast so well. Matthew and husband are perfect. And I’m very pleased it is being shown over 4 nights. Another hit for Mrs Cleeves 🙌🏻October 25, 2021
Ben Aldridge has also commented on the character, revealing that he’d already been involved in the audiobook version of The Long Call and that he can relate to the character in some ways.
He told us: “I did the audiobook for Ann’s book quite a while ago, I think before it had been commissioned as a TV series, so I had read the book quite a few times — it’s wonderfully detailed about his inner battles, his psychology, and his history with his family, so that was such detailed preparation.
“But also, I suppose my own lived experience as we crossed over: the character’s gay, I’m gay, that’s been a very interesting journey for me personally. So I suppose I felt quite prepared to play him already — it’s not something that I’ve had to root around and search for, but it definitely involved some interesting self-examination.”
The Long Call continues on ITV on Tues 26 Oct at 9pm in the UK. It’s also available exclusively on BritBox for US viewers.