UKTV – Sundays from 4 September, 8.30pm

In a quiet caravan park on a summer’s afternoon a seven-year-old boy goes missing. Miles away – in a seemingly unconnected case – another seven-year-old boy is also reported missing – taken from a children’s play area. These incidents at first appear random, until it emerges that the boys live in the same area. Barclay and his team, including fast-tracked DI Zoe Larson and experienced officer DS Nick Dyer, struggle to find links between the boys, or clues to their whereabouts. They are increasingly hampered by the force’s senior management and a home office determined not to negotiate with the kidnappers. Frustrated at the speed of events and the team’s lack of progress Barclay calls upon his old colleague and trusted friend Amy Foster to help. Barclay’s number one priority is to find the children alive but with a media hungry perpetrator anxious to air their contentious message and change the law, will Barclay be forced to go out on a limb, putting his job on the line in the process?

8:30pm Monday, October 26 on TV One

Hugh Bonneville (Lost In Austen) and Janet McTeer (Sense And Sensibility) star as detective team Barclay and Foster, in tonight’s drama, Hunter (at 8.30pm on TV ONE).

Writer Mick Ford (William And Mary) took the duo of detective team superintendent Iain Barclay and detective sergeant Amy Foster, created by Gwyneth Hughes in the critically acclaimed series Five Days, and put them at the heart of a team of unpredictable detectives, who are faced with a highly sensitive crime.

When extremists kidnap two seven-year-old boys from very different backgrounds and promise to release them only if their radical demands are met, the case falls into the hands of the intuitive and pragmatic Iain Barclay. Faced with a relatively inexperienced and increasingly unreliable team, Barclay soon calls his firm friend and faithful deputy Amy Foster out of ‘early retirement’ to support him in solving the crime.

With children’s lives at risk, the boys’ families demanding answers, and no leads as to who is behind the abductions, the detectives are faced with a hugely complicated moral dilemma, to which there is no easy or comfortable solution – and the clock is ticking.

Having played Det Supt Iain Barclay in Five Days, Bonneville was delighted to reprise the role in the police thriller, Hunter. “Five Days worked very well as a state-of the nation drama, and I thought the idea of giving the character of Barclay future life, and developing his working relationship with DS Amy Foster in a stand-alone show, was a very exciting prospect.”

He says writer Mick Ford created a compelling story, in which the protagonists face increasingly daunting tests of character and professional skill, and he was impressed with Ford’s achievement. “The script is tense, dynamic and thought-provoking. Mick’s done a superb job of taking these characters, setting them in a familiar but fresh environment, and giving them an almost insurmountable problem to overcome.

“The case isn’t simply one of the ‘goodies’ catching the ‘baddies’. The plot is complex, and the moral and ethical questions it raises are not easily answered. Moreover, Barclay is no super-hero, he’s flawed, makes mistakes, so there’s frailty and failure as well as success along the way. It’s a gripping story.”

Describing his character, he says Barclay can be summed up by the way he lives: “His house is on the edge of town but within sight of it. He’s an observer, an outsider, yet his absolute lifeblood is the work he does within the community of which he is never quite a part. He seems to have a slower pulse rate than the rest of us, calm under pressure, considered, thoughtful.

“And there’s another reason he chooses to live on the edge of town: less light pollution means there’s more chance of seeing his favourite constellation in the night sky – Orion, The Hunter.”

Reflecting on other qualities that make Barclay a great detective, Bonneville continues: “His real skills are founded in his fascination with astronomy. Where some people see a thousand points of light, Barclay sees patterns, constellations. His brain is always active, constantly sifting information, sorting order from chaos, yet all the while he maintains a calm and collected exterior.”

This all sounds markedly different to Amy Foster’s feisty, impatient character. “It’s because Barclay and Foster are chalk and cheese that they’re such a great team. Amy often speaks before she thinks, he’s the opposite. Even though she’s a bit of a loose canon, she’s been in the force her whole life, so her ability to play the game and anticipate the pitfalls is invaluable to him.”

Their unusual and strong friendship amuses Bonneville: “They’re a pair of workaholics with a great rapport, whose relationship is based on mutual respect and mutual irritation. I can picture them in retirement, sitting on a sea front, rugs over their knees, staring out to sea – and bickering.”