After the Flood, Britbox review: climate disaster and crime make good partners

A small community, a natural disaster and a heavily pregnant detective add fresh ingredients to the traditional pleasures of a UK crime drama.
After the Flood, Britbox.

If all you had to go on was their television output, you’d say the UK is clearly awash with crime. Retro crime, gritty crime, cosy crime, sexy crime, mystery crime, bleeding obvious crime. If it’s a criminal offense, Britain will make a television series about it. But natural disasters? We might not see Hailstorm Detective or Tornado Investigation Unit any time soon, but judging by new series After the Flood, climate change and crime are natural partners.

A river has broken its banks, floodwaters are sweeping through a Yorkshire town, and for the local constabulary it’s all hands on deck trying to limit the damage. It’s a surprisingly all-action start for a crime series, especially when officers Jo Marshall (Sophie Rundle, Peaky Blinders, Call the Midwife) and Deepa Das (Tripti Tripuraneni) are trying to rescue a baby from the raging waters. But even a successful rescue comes at a cost; when a stranger appears and helps them, he’s carried away by the river, seemingly gone for good.

Murky waters

Once the waters recede, the series settles down to the kind of thing UK crime often does so well – focusing on a small, vividly realised community facing a big problem. The town’s been trashed, some residents are struggling, while others are lending a helping hand, and for a (brief) while, the big pleasure here is just watching the locals pull things back together.

Then a body turns up in a parking garage. The obvious assumption is that he drowned in the flood, but there’s a twist. It turns out he’s been dead since well before the raging waters swept through town. So who is he? That turns out to be an even bigger twist – one that drives the murder mystery plot for the rest of this six part series.

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Jo has her own issues to deal with. She’s heavily pregnant for starters, and looking to follow in her father’s footsteps and make detective. The more she devotes herself to solving the mystery, the more her husband (Matt Stokoe, Misfits, Bodyguard) – also a detective – urges her to slow down. He says she needs to think of the baby; he’s probably thinking more about how he’ll look bad if she’s the one who cracks a big case. And what would a crime drama be without a hero who has to go it alone?

Alongside the more traditional pleasures of the genre, After the Flood is also a look at a community struggling to deal with the effects of climate change – in this case, the growing awareness that this flood wasn’t a one-off, and if they’re going to save their town, then they’re going to have to be proactive.

Unsurprisingly, local businesses aren’t keen to stump up money to mitigate a disaster they believe might never happen, while politicians know which side their bread is buttered. Standing against the forces of the local dodgy land developer and his mates are activists and environmental campaigners led by Jo’s mother (Lorraine Ashbourne). They have an uphill road ahead of them, though, and with the rising water table, heading uphill seems like the smart move.

Getting results

There’s a lot going on here, and not all of it fits together smoothly. It’s possible to imagine a murder mystery that connects with the story of a local community trying to figure out a way to survive in a world of growing climate volatility, but the one we get here is much more your traditional wide-ranging and twisty conspiracy. It’s not a bad mystery, but it can seem a little too much compared to the down-to-earth issues of rising damp.

It doesn’t exactly help that Jo is a bit of a loose cannon even by television detective standards. For the most part it works (so long as you don’t think about it too much), because we’re trained to cheer on a cop who bends the rules to get results – especially when it’s the stuffy, male-dominated hierarchy that’s standing in the way of getting things done. Just don’t ask why she’s sending DNA from a case to a commercial ancestry register.

Crime dramas don’t have to be realistic to be a satisfying watch (just how many people are murdered in Midsomer each year?). After the Flood’s occasionally wobbly plot developments get a pass, because they’re all about keeping things moving. Usually, what’s left after a flood is a bunch of stagnant puddles. Here, once the water drops, the story’s just getting started.

All six episodes of After the Flood are available on Britbox from 13 May 2024.


3.5 out of 5 stars


Sophie Rundle, Deepa Das, Matt Stokoe


Azhur Saleem

Format: TV Series

Country: UK

Release: 13 May 2024

Available on:

BritBox, 6 Episodes

Anthony Morris is a freelance film and television writer. He’s been a regular contributor to The Big Issue, Empire Magazine, Junkee, Broadsheet, The Wheeler Centre and Forte Magazine, where he’s currently the film editor. Other publications he’s contributed to include Vice, The Vine, Kill Your Darlings (where he was their online film columnist), The Lifted Brow, Urban Walkabout and Spook Magazine. He’s the co-author of hit romantic comedy novel The Hot Guy, and he’s also written some short stories he’d rather you didn’t mention. You can follow him on Twitter @morrbeat and read some of his reviews on the blog It’s Better in the Dark.