A harrowing tour-de-force from all involved.
Be honest, Britain; you were always going to love Kiri. A national treasure (Sarah Lancashire, of Happy Valley and Last Tango), a legendary writer (Jack Thorne, of Cursed Child and This Is England), and a mesmerising whodunnit – it’s a winning formula. Exactly the kind of despair we delight to find at 9pm on Channel 4.
It’s a suitably bleak premise. When nine-year-old Kiri (Felicia Mukasa) is murdered during an unsupervised visit to her birth grandparents, the lives of all involved are irreversibly shattered. With the media spotlight and police investigation relentless in their pursuit of the truth, Kiri’s families – both foster and biological – are driven to desperate measures, whilst social worker Miriam is left questioning the decisions she made on that fateful day.
Thorne’s script moves carefully and elegantly, breaking hearts with each step. Though Lancashire is enrapturing as the quirky yet damaged Miriam, Kiri’s story is most poignant when seen through the eyes of heartbroken foster mother Alice (Lia Williams) and her equally devastated birth grandfather Tobi (Lucian Msamati). Left to battle for ownership of a dead girl, their story cuts raw – an unjust fight with no possible happy ending. Thorne addresses these critical social questions throughout, challenging our perceptions on race and adoption, but still ensures that Kiri retains its dramatic shine. Each scene shimmers with poignance and heartbreak and fury; exhausting but wholesome television.
The first three hours play out almost faultlessly, but the resolution of the ‘whodunnit’ is a little more jarring. The revelation of Kiri’s killer contradicts the difficult lesson Thorne has forced us to swallow – all of these characters are guilty. Despite their ultimately noble intentions, Miriam, Alice and Tobi are all accountable for an innocent girl’s death. The unmasking of a villain is a duff note at the end of this harrowingly beautiful melody.
All four episodes of Kiri are available to watch on All4.