What happened inside the tower? That’s the question in the newest BritBox series The Tower, based on the novel of the same name by Kate London. The three-part drama focuses on an East End apartment building where two people die and two more go missing, with the police scrambling to find out what brought them all together before the case falls any further apart.
Killing Eve alum Gemma Whelan stars as Detective Sergeant Sarah Collins, the lead on the investigation, with Tahirah Sharif co-starring as Police Constable Lizzie Adama (changed from Lizzie Griffiths in the novel). The series also features Jimmy Akingbola (Arrow) as Sarah’s partner, Detective Constable Steve Bradshaw.
“What I love about this script is that they are what you could call very small pieces of unacceptable behaviour that would several years ago maybe have been brushed off as just that,” Whelan said of what drew her to The Tower. “We cannot escape the fact that this is not acceptable anymore—however casual, however well-meant, whatever angle you think you are coming from.
“I think it’s really interesting and believable. People are passionate about this. The refugee has a point of view. The detective has a point of view and the mum next door has a point of view. Everyone has a point. You can’t really land on anyone’s side, which I love about this. You see everyone’s side.”
Patrick Harbinson, who created and wrote another female-led crime drama called Fearless in 2017 that starred the late Helen McCrory as a human-rights lawyer trying to prove a convicted murderer’s innocence. The series also featured Jamie Bamber (Strike Back) and John Bishop (Doctor Who), and was critically acclaimed, so being the showrunner of The Tower and the person to adapt it for the screen is right up his alley.
“It’s a story of a typical London street. Two families living cheek by jowl—one English white and middle-class, the other Libyan refugees, just settled in the community after two years’ of limbo in hostels and refugee camps. A dispute arises between them, basically out of nothing, and then escalates,” Harbinson explained. “It’s also the story of a typical London police station, whose officers have to deal with that dispute. Kate’s novel is brilliant at observing both the community fracturing and the police coming under pressure because of something really small—what a policeman did or didn’t say in one of those houses.”
Former police officer Kate London has developed a following for her Collins and Griffiths series of crime novels, which began with The Tower (originally released in the UK as Post Mortem) and continued with 2017’s Death Message and 2019’s Gallowstree Lane. The latter two are both available digitally on Amazon while Post Mortem is only available in paperback through third-party sellers. Interested readers can click below to check out London’s full series.
There’s no word yet on if there will be TV versions of Death Message or Gallowstree Lane in the future but it likely depends on the success of The Tower. All three episodes of the series are dropping today, giving viewers the chance to stream the mystery in its entirety, alongside other adaptations like Ann Cleeves’ The Long Call and other thrillers such as the Martin Compston-led Traces.
The Tower is now streaming on BritBox. Watch all three episodes now with a 7-day free trial.
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