Success begets success in the TV industry. In the U.K., there are very few police procedurals that have reached the levels of Line of Duty, the Jed Mercutio series about the internal investigations into its fictionalized Birmingham police force. Mercutio's HTM Television (Hat Trick Mercurio Ltd) has likewise seen success with series like Bodyguard, Trigger Point, and Bloodlands. However, none of Mercutio's shows have come to PBS, snatched up by streaming services like BritBox, Netflix, Peacock, and Acorn TV, respectively. That will change this year, as PBS has landed Mercutio's newest series, DI Ray, and will be streaming it on PBS Passport starting February 2023.
Like Trigger Point, a vehicle for Vicky McClure, one of Line of Duty's top stars, DI Ray is a project from another LoD vet, Maya Sondhi, who starred for three seasons of Mercutio's flagship program as Maneet Bindra. As the series creator and writer, she is the driving force behind DI Ray, which is your typical police procedural, save one detail: its lead is DI Rachita Ray, played by Sikh actor Parminder Nagra (Agents of SHIELD among her many credits) and gives a fresh perspective on the genre by positioning it from the POV of a woman who is experiencing both racism and sexism at every juncture of her career.
The original series aired for four nights in the U.K. on ITV in May 2022 and received critical praise for its fresh spin on the well-worn but ever-popular genre. Season 2 was announced as moving forward in November of that year. Exactly when PBS Distribution picked it up is unknown, there was no press release heralding its move across the pond, but it's precisely the sort of contemporary series that would fit right into most local station lineups.
Here's the ITV synopsis of the series:
Rachita achieves the promotion she’s been waiting for when she’s asked to join a homicide investigation. However, on her first day, she’s told the murder she’s been assigned is a ‘Culturally Specific Homicide.’ Rachita’s heart sinks – she suspects she’s a ‘token appointment,’ chosen for her ethnicity rather than her ability. Never one to shy away from a challenge, Rachita sticks to the case, determined to find the killer and call out the obvious biases her colleagues are bringing to the investigation. And it’s far from easy. The case isn’t a run-of-the-mill murder; it involves delving deep into the dangerous world of organized crime.
Like most Mercutio productions, DI Ray sports a high-end cast alongside Nagra as the titular Ray. Maanuv Thiara (Landscapers) is her partner, Tony Khatri, Gemma Whelan (The Tower) plays her boss, DCI Kerry Henderson, while Jamie Bamber (Battlestar Galactica) is DI Martyn Hunter, who is also Ray's fiance. The rest of the cast includes Sam Baker-Jones (Noughts + Crosses), Ezra Faroque Khan (The Beyond), Demelza O'Sullivan (Abatement), and Manpreet Bachu (Killing Eve).
DI Ray will begin streaming as a PBS Passport binge on February 20, 2023 with all four episodes, ahead of a linear broadcast in July. Season 2 is already in the works.