Without Sin – Review

Worth seeing: as a tense thriller that works well as a binge-watching psychological crime drama, whose plot doesn't stand up to close scrutiny
Featuring:Johnny Harris, Vicky McClure, Andrea Lowe, Callum FullerCon O'Neill, Dorothy Atkinson, Elise Ackerman, Ezra Faroque Khan, Johann Myers, Kieran Burton, Perry Fitzpatrick
Key crew:Al Mackay, Guy Hescott, Frances Poletti
Channel:ITV1, ITVX
Length:46 minutes
Broadcast date:28th December 2022


It’s three years since Charles Stone (Johnny Harris) was convicted of killing teenager Maisy Tomlinson, during a break-in at her family home, and her mother Stella (Vicky McClure) agrees to join a programme where killers meet the relatives of their victims to offer closure and understanding.

The meeting doesn’t go as planned; rather than an apology, Stella gets a denial, along with a tantalising name of another missing teenager whose disappearance Charles claims  is linked to Maisy’s death.

Desperate to know the truth about what happened on that fateful night, Vicky starts digging for information, with help from her best friend, police constable Remy (Johann Myers), following up tips from continued prison visits to Charles.

The closer she gets to the truth, the more a local drugs gang starts closing in and the less co-operative Charles becomes.


ITV’s four-part drama comes along at the same time as Channel 4’s The Light In The Hall, which – almost beat for beat – tells the same story; the now-single mother of a murdered teenager meets the convicted killer to find out what really happened – even what really happened is almost the same, with a cover-up to protect those who were really to blame. The only substantial difference is that Vicky McLure’s cab-driver is the main investigator here, while The Light In The Hall’s Joanna Scanlan is more on the side-lines, with a young reporter chasing the leads.

Vicky McClure is convincing – if not entirely believable – being left almost entirely to her own devices, despite mounting evidence and having a good friend in the police. Johnny Harris is interesting, as his short temper comes into play, raising questions about what he might or might not have done.

As the title suggests, Without Sin suggests that many of the key characters might – or might not – bear some responsibility for the tragic events on that fateful night, whether having been directly responsible for Maisy’s death or contributing to the set of events that made it possible. If not Charles, who could’ve killed Maisy? There are plenty of options – some more believable than others. Consequently, red herrings abound – as well as allowing the plot to delve a little deeper into some of the characters.

Take a step back and Without Sin can be seen as a tense and effective, psychological crime drama, with cliff-hanging episode endings encouraging  binge watching. It also has some interesting things to say about issues such as loyalty and class.

But examine the plot too closely and much of it just doesn’t add up. It would be unlikely for a killer to be eligible for a restorative justice programme after just three years of a life sentence – the victim’s mother wouldn’t be able to make independent visits to chat to the killer unchecked – a known gang leader certainly wouldn’t be able to pop to the prison to chat to one of his former henchmen – characters knowingly march into danger because it’s necessary for the drama – and the timing of some of the key events doesn’t feel at all right – whether things feeling just a little too coincidental or situations just hanging until the plot is ready to catch up.