See the full range of programmes that Lexus is sponsoring here.
Why you should watch it
I have to tell you? Didn’t you see the first series last year?
OK, so if you didn’t, get yourself over to 4oD right away and catch up with the digital box set, because Utopia is one of those multi-stranded conspiracy thrillers that you can’t look away from – not only because it’s compelling viewing, but also because the plot scampers along at a lick and you don’t want to miss some of the finer plot points and revelations.
In the first series, we follow a group of comic – sorry, graphic novel – fans get involved in a global conspiracy that is revealed by Utopia, a title that they all admire. Brutal murders, torture and some pretty unsavoury behaviour ensues and the makeshift team has to go on the run from a ruthless, shadowy organisation called The Network, which has tentacles reaching into the police, the security services and even the government.
But one of the other elements that makes Utopia so watchable is that, despite the despicable acts of some of the characters, there’s still a strand of absurdist black humour running through it that will make you laugh out loud, often not long after you’ve just winced at some instance of brutality. You have to take your hat off to Utopia’s writer and creator, Dennis Kelly (a veteran of Spooks and co-creator of the Matilda stage show): his world is a masterful creation – but not one you’d want to live in.
A twist at the end of the first series (we won’t give you any spoilers here, just in case you need to catch up) has set up the second series perfectly. Even better, Kelly has managed to delay our gratification about what has happened to Jessica Hyde further by using the first episode of the second series to show the roots of the story, set in the 1970s: yes, it’s a prequel sequel, a move that demonstrates Kelly’s original storytelling voice.
In the first episode we see how Geraldine James’ Milner (played as a young woman by Rose Leslie, last seen as Ygritte, Jon Snow’s wildling lover in Game of Thrones), becomes a ruthless killer, what happens to the change the path of scientist Carvel, and how Jessica and Arby come to be.
After that, we can only guess at The Network’s next moves, whether Ian will find Becky again and how Grant grows up.
Who to look out for
Geraldine James demonstrated her usual superior acting chops in Series 1 as MI5 agent Milner, so we look forward to seeing her again.
And also keep an eye out (sorry) for Adeel Akhtar as the increasingly conflicted Winston Winston and the superb Alexandra Roach as the vulnerable but beautifully foul-mouthed Becky.
There’s also a host of British acting talent making cameos in Series 2, including Tim McInnerny, Michael Maloney, Ian McDiarmid, Kevin Eldon and Sylvestra Le Touzel.
With a series such as Utopia, with its twists and turns, your guess is as good as ours – and, frankly, if the rollercoaster ride of the first series is anything to go by, half the fun is just going along for the ride. But one thing’s for sure: The Network will continue to ruthlessly pursue its goal, so anybody who stands in their way had better watch out.