Wolf review: a ‘harrowing’ and gruesome BBC drama

Once upon a time, said Sean O’Grady in The Independent, TV announcers “would introduce a series such as ‘Wolf’ with a sombre warning that it wasn’t suitable ‘for viewers of a nervous disposition’”. That sounds a bit antique now, but I really do think the BBC should find a way of cautioning its licence-payers about what they are about to endure: “Wolf” is easily “the most harrowing thing I’ve had to watch” in years. 

Based on the book by Mo Hayder, the drama centres around Jack Caffery (Ukweli Roach), a young detective haunted by his brother’s abduction when they were children. As he tries to get to the bottom of what happened, he gets entangled in the kidnap and torture of a well-off family at their Welsh holiday home (with Juliet Stevenson “in excellent form” as the mother). “Appalling violence of an apparently motiveless kind is a leitmotif”, but the series is worth sticking with – provided “you’ve the stomach for a fright”. 

“I am telling you,” said Lucy Mangan in The Guardian: “this thing is out there.” I watched all six episodes “with mounting incredulity yet growing addiction to the wildness proliferating on my screen”. And though the “convolutions of the plot keep coming right until the last minute”, they do deliver a satisfactory ending. 

I’m afraid I found the drama just “repulsive”, said Ben Dowell in The Times. Sure, there are twists. “But there is no character development”, and I can’t say that my summer has been made complete by watching Juliet Stevenson “getting cuffed to a radiator”.

Where to watch: BBC iPlayer