'Channel 4's Murder Island is killing me, the contestants couldn't catch a cold'

By Sara Wallis & Sara Wallis

Mary, Joseph and the wee ­donkey, the absolute shambles of the amateur detectives taking part in Murder Island. Poirot would be turning in his grave.

The bonkers fake crime game show format, on Channel 4 on Tuesdays, gets ordinary people to play at being cops, hoping to crack a case for a £50,000 prize.

These are people who have ­clearly watched too much CSI and think they could do the work of a homicide detective. This is like me thinking I could perform heart bypass surgery just because I’ve watched the entire 18-season run of Grey’s Anatomy.

What did you think of the first episode? Let us know in the comments

(Channel 4)

This is no ordinary case – it’s a murder mystery written by none other than Ian Rankin, one of Britain’s most successful crime writers. Unfortunately, he may be regretting his involvement.

The whole thing gave off vibes of an am-dram murder mystery dinner party that you wish you hadn’t bothered going to. Four teams of two were whisked off to the crime scene, The Manse, a rundown property on an island, where the body of Charly Hendricks had been discovered hours earlier.

(Channel 4)

“And the person in that body bag... (dramatic pause)... is me!” said the extremely creepy narrator, desperately trying to ham it up.

They were greeted by some very serious actual homicide detectives, who insist on being called Sir and Ma’am and ­occasionally tell us what it’s like to solve real murders.

“You cannot underestimate what it’s like to be involved in something like a homicide inquiry,” said cop Simon Harding. Of course they all ignored him.

(Channel 4)

It started with a tour of the crime scene, after which they were all hauled in for a telling-off. Dot and Rox, who declared they are good judges of character, had accidentally stood in a pool of blood. Caroline and Chrissie, who “don’t want to be underestimated”, touched the victim’s wine glasses without gloves.

Every single one of them missed the victim’s passport, wad of cash and diary. These sloppy sleuths couldn’t catch a kid with their hand in the cookie jar.

(Channel 4)

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Even more criminal was the cringey docu-drama style acting, with excruciating flashbacks and awkwardness as the contestants “interviewed” persons of interest. Documentaries, crime dramas, novels and murder investigations need to stay in their corners.

Clues were drip-fed throughout, landing clunkily so that no one could possibly miss them. But it all felt like watching colleagues on a team-building awayday.

Play along with your own crime board if you have six hours to kill, but I have a hunch this genre-confused format will suffer a very slow death.

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