Luther (TV series)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Created byNeil Cross
Written byNeil Cross
Opening theme"Paradise Circus" by Massive Attack
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series5
No. of episodes20 (list of episodes)
Producer(s)Katie Swinden
Running time57–62 minutes
Production company(s)BBC Drama Productions
DistributorBBC Studios
Original networkBBC One
Picture formatHDTV 1080i
Original release4 May 2010 (2010-05-04) –
present (present)
Related showssee Adaptations
External links

Luther is a British crime drama television series starring Idris Elba as the title character DCI John Luther,[1] written by Neil Cross. The first series comprised six episodes which ran in May and June 2010. A second series of four episodes aired on BBC One in June and July 2011. A third series was commissioned in 2012, comprising four episodes which aired in July 2013.[2] A two-episode fourth series was broadcast in December 2015. A fifth series of four episodes premiered on 1 January 2019.[3] BBC Studios handles the distribution of the series.[4]

Elba has received critical acclaim for his role as John Luther and has been awarded a Critics' Choice Television Award, Golden Globe Award, NAACP Image Award, and Screen Actors Guild Award for his performance.[5][6] The series has also received eleven Primetime Emmy Award nominations in various categories, including four nominations of Elba for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie.


John Luther is a Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) working for the Serious Crime Unit in series one, and the new "Serious and Serial" unit from series 2.[7] A dedicated police officer, Luther is obsessive, possessed, and sometimes violent. However, Luther has paid a heavy price for his dedication; he has never been able to prevent himself from being consumed by the darkness of the crimes with which he deals.

For Luther, the job always comes first. His dedication is a curse and a blessing, both for him and those close to him. In the very first episode of the series he investigates brilliant psychopath and murderer Alice Morgan. Ultimately he is unable to arrest her due to lack of evidence, but as the programme progresses, she becomes both his nemesis and unlikely companion. As she pursues her infatuation with him, he gradually relents as he is able to glean insight from her about some of the cunning criminals he pursues. After Alice helps Luther avenge the death of his estranged wife Zoe, Luther aids her escape from a secure facility and she flees the country. In Alice's absence, Luther's life is dominated by his police work once again, culminating in the murder of his partner and protégé Justin Ripley in the third series. Alice reappears following Ripley's death, and finally convinces Luther to leave London with her.

When the fourth series begins, Luther is living a reclusive life on the English coast. After learning of Alice's apparent death in mysterious circumstances, he is persuaded to return to London and resume his role as a DCI. It ultimately transpires that Alice faked her own death after her life with Luther did not match their expectations. Two years later she returns to extort money from organised crime boss George Cornelius, who sabotaged her previous diamond exchange. Embroiled in her schemes again, Luther's relationship with Alice heads towards its destructive climax.

Cast and characters[edit]

Idris Elba stars as the show's eponymous character, Detective Chief Inspector John Luther


SeriesEpisodesOriginally airedAvg. UK viewers
First airedLast aired
164 May 2010 (2010-05-04)8 June 2010 (2010-06-08)4.83
2414 June 2011 (2011-06-14)5 July 2011 (2011-07-05)6.43
342 July 2013 (2013-07-02)23 July 2013 (2013-07-23)5.98
4215 December 2015 (2015-12-15)22 December 2015 (2015-12-22)7.92
541 January 2019 (2019-01-01)4 January 2019 (2019-01-04)9.45

Series 1 (2010)[edit]

The first series of Luther aired in 2010 and received positive reviews from critics, getting an average of 5.9 million viewers per episode.[citation needed]

Series 2 (2011)[edit]

In August 2010, the BBC announced that it had commissioned a second series for 2011. Filming started in late September/early October 2010. Originally planned to be broadcast as two two-hour episodes,[10] it was shown as four one-hour episodes. The first episode was shown on BBC One on 14 June 2011.[11]

Series 3 (2013)[edit]

In August 2011, the BBC One controller announced that a third series had been commissioned.[12][13]

Filming of the four-episode series started in November 2012.[14][15] Sienna Guillory was cast as Luther's new love interest. Other guest stars included Lucian Msamati and Ned Dennehy.[16] The third series began airing on 2 July 2013[17] and concluded on 23 July.[18]

Series 4 (2015)[edit]

On 19 November 2014, it was announced that a two-episode special would be aired on the BBC in 2015.[19] Filming began in March 2015[20] and ended April 2015.[21] BBC Home Entertainment later confirmed that the Region 1 version of the Series 4 DVD would be released on 15 December 2015, coinciding with the air date of the fourth series.[22] On 24 October 2015, BBC One confirmed via their Facebook page that series 4 of Luther would air in December 2015 on BBC One.[23]

In November 2015, it was announced that Luther was confirmed to air in the United States on BBC America for a three-hour one-night event on 17 December 2015.[24]

The first episode of the fourth series aired on BBC One on 15 December 2015.[25]

Series 5 (2019)[edit]

A fifth series comprising four episodes was announced on 12 June 2017. Filming started in early 2018.[26] Ruth Wilson was confirmed to be returning as Alice Morgan for series five.[27] Series 5 premiered on 1 January 2019, and was broadcast over consecutive nights until 4 January.[3]



Creator Neil Cross has said that Luther is influenced by both Sherlock Holmes and Columbo; the nature of Luther's intellect and its application to solving crimes is comparable to Holmes', whereas the show's use of the inverted detective format was inspired by Columbo.[28]


The first series was filmed in and around London, England, and produced by BBC Drama Productions. Brian Kirk, Sam Miller and Stefan Schwartz each directed two episodes and show creator Neil Cross wrote all six of the episodes. Leila Kirkpatrick was the line producer for the entire program and Katie Swinden was the producer for a number of episodes. Tim Fleming provided cinematography for two episodes. Katie Weiland and Victoria Boydell were involved in film editing, with Weiland editing two episodes. Andy Morgan was responsible for all casting, Paul Cross provided production design and Adam A. Makin was behind the show's art direction.[citation needed]


The show is filmed in various locations around Central, North, West and East London including the Barbican Estate, Elephant and Castle, Westfield Shopping Centre (Shepherd's Bush), Renaissance Hotel (Heathrow Airport), Ealing Hospital, Cranbrook Estate (Bethnal Green), Victoria Park, Waterloo station, Holloway, Shoreditch and the Docklands.

Critical reception[edit]

Series one was met with positive reviews, according to aggregate review site Rotten Tomatoes, where it holds a 95% approval rating, based on 19 reviews. The site's consensus reads: "Gritty and ambiguous, Luther is a captivating drama bolstered by a powerhouse performance from Idris Elba in the title role."[29] It holds a Metacritic score of 82 out of 100, based on 11 collected reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[30] However, The Guardian's Stuart Heritage was initially critical of the show,[31] and compared it to the American series FlashForward, in that both series arrived with a large amount of hype but delivered an anticlimactic end product. However, by the fifth episode, Heritage had changed his views and called it Idris Elba's best work since The Wire.[32]

The show's second series was met with equally positive reviews and holds a 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 12 reviews. The site's consensus reads: "Luther delves into darker territory in its second series, and Idris Elba's outstanding performance makes this a police procedural of uncommon weight and heft."[33] It holds a Metacritic score of 78 out of 100, based on 9 collected reviews, indicating "Generally favorable reviews."[34] Variety and The Hollywood Reporter admiringly highlighted the darker tone, Elba's performance, and the production.[35] In the third quarter of 2011, the top-rated shows on BBC America were Doctor Who, Top Gear, and Luther, which together gained the network its highest quarterly ratings ever.[36]

Series three was again met with positive reviews and holds an 84% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 19 reviews.[37] It holds a Metacritic score of 76 out of 100, based on 19 collected reviews, indicating "Generally favorable reviews".[38]

Series four received positive reviews, with a 79% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 14 reviews.[39] It holds a Metacritic score of 68 out of 100, based on 11 reviews, indicating "Generally favorable reviews".[40]


The first series of the show premiered in Australia on ABC1 on 15 October 2010 and in the United States on BBC America two days later.[41] The second series debuted in the United States on BBC America on 29 September 2011 and Australia on ABC1 on 24 February 2012. The third series ran in the United States on BBC America on four consecutive nights beginning 3 September 2013.[42][43]

The show is available on Netflix in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, the UK and the USA.

In China, the first series is available on popular VOD streaming service PPTV.[citation needed]


Paul Englishby composed Luther's soundtrack. He incorporated many pop and rock songs into the soundtrack, using these generally in the end credits. A CD titled Luther - Songs and Score From Series 1, 2 and 3 was released on 19 August 2013 and contains many of the themes and songs used in the television series.[44] The opening theme song is a shorter version of Paradise Circus by Massive Attack from the album Heligoland (2010) and features the voice of Hope Sandoval.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Nominee(s) Result
2010 Crime Thriller Awards Best Supporting Actress Saskia Reeves Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film Idris Elba Nominated
Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film Ruth Wilson Nominated
2011 Golden Globe Awards Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film Idris Elba Nominated
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-Series, or Dramatic Special Idris Elba Won
Outstanding Television Movie, Mini-Series, or Dramatic Special Luther Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie Idris Elba Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film Idris Elba Nominated
2012 Critics’ Choice Television Awards Best Actor in a Movie/Miniseries Idris Elba Nominated
Best Movie/Miniseries Luther Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film Idris Elba Won
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-Series, or Dramatic Special Idris Elba Nominated
Outstanding Television Movie, Mini-Series, or Dramatic Special Luther Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Dramatic Special Sam Miller Nominated
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie Idris Elba Nominated
Outstanding Miniseries or Movie Luther Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Dramatic Special Neil Cross Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film Idris Elba Nominated
Best Miniseries or Television Film Luther Nominated
2013 Crime Thriller Awards Best TV Drama Luther Nominated
Best Leading Actor Idris Elba Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Warren Brown Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Ruth Wilson Nominated
2014 Critics’ Choice Television Awards Best Movie/Miniseries Luther Nominated
Best Supporting Actor in a Movie/Miniseries Warren Brown Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film Idris Elba Nominated
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-Series, or Dramatic Special Idris Elba Won
Outstanding Television Movie, Mini-Series, or Dramatic Special Luther Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie Idris Elba Nominated
Outstanding Miniseries Luther Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Dramatic Special Neil Cross Nominated
2016 BAFTA Television Awards Best Actor Idris Elba Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film Idris Elba Nominated
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Television Movie, Mini-Series, or Dramatic Special [45] Luther Nominated
Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-Series, or Dramatic Special [45] Idris Elba Nominated
Critics’ Choice Television Awards Best Actor in a Movie/Miniseries Idris Elba Won
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie Idris Elba Won
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie Idris Elba Nominated
Outstanding Television Movie Luther Nominated
Outstanding Cinematography for a Limited Series or Movie Luther Nominated

Book, potential films and spin-off series[edit]

In 2011, following the broadcast of the second series, a tie-in prequel novel by Cross entitled Luther: The Calling was released. Idris Elba also expressed his enthusiasm for making a film adaptation of the show, saying, "That's where the ultimate Luther story will unfold, is in the big silver screen — London as a huge backdrop and a very menacing, horrible character to play against."[46] During a BBC Radio 4 interview in March 2012, co-creator Neil Cross revealed that plans were being made for a Luther film that would begin production at the conclusion of the third series, the show's last.[47] In May 2012, Elba stated in an interview that the third series would serve as the lead-in for the planned film.[48] In September 2012, Cross announced that he was in the process of creating a spin-off of Luther centred around the character Alice Morgan, starring Ruth Wilson. Cross stated, "The BBC is very interested in the project. The only real question would be how many and how often we would do it - whether it would be a one-off miniseries or a returning miniseries, a co-production or not."[49]

Following the broadcast of the third series in July 2013, Cross continued to rule out any further episodes for television.[50] The prospective film was at this time intended as a prequel, based on The Calling,[51] with Elba, Steven Mackintosh, Indira Varma and Warren Brown set to reprise their roles from the television series.[52]

In August 2014, in an interview with TVLine at the 2014 66th Primetime Emmy Awards and Zap2It while promoting his movie No Good Deed (2014), Idris Elba promised that "the series isn't over", which kept the possibility for future series or a feature film of Luther open. In a September 2014 Reddit AMA, Elba addressed the possibility of future plans for Luther and said there were "talks at the moment to figure out a way to bring more Luther back to the TV, but the focus is to try and make a film from it."[53] Ultimately, a feature film did not appear and the fourth series for television was commissioned.

Following the fifth series, Elba stated that a film is intended rather than a further television series. While not confirming if this potential film is a remount of the earlier prequel project, Elba mentioned that the film would be "connected to" series 5.[54]


American version[edit]

In November 2014, Fox was developing an American TV series version of Luther, with Cross writing and executive producing the series, and Elba, Peter Chernin (of the Chernin company), Katherine Pope, and BBC Worldwide Prods' Jane Tranter and Julie Gartner on board as executive producers. The project hails from 20th Century Fox TV, studio-based Chernin Entertainment, and BBC Worldwide Prods.[55]

On 9 March 2015, The Hollywood Reporter reported that the network had delayed the series from the 2015 pilot season, after failing to secure Marlon Wayans for the title role.[56] After subsequently considering Mahershala Ali and Rosario Dawson for the role of Luther, the project was formally dropped in 2017.[57]

Russian version[edit]

In 2014, Channel One Russia was developing a Russian TV series version of Luther, with Konstantin Lavronenko, starring as Klim. The series was first broadcast on 31 January 2016.

Korean version[edit]

On 5 February 2018, South Korean TV network Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) announced that it will broadcast a Korean version of Luther. The adaptation will be broadcast in November 2018 and is produced by the MBC Drama Production Group.[58] In August 2018, Shin Ha-kyun was cast as male lead.[59]

The series title was changed later into Less Than Evil (나쁜 형사, lit. "Bad Detective"). It aired on MBC on 3 December 2018.[60]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Programmes: Luther". BBC.
  2. ^ "Sienna Guillory joins Idris Elba in the third series of Luther". Retrieved 8 March 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Luther season 5 release date confirmed by BBC". The Independent. 2018-12-04. Retrieved 2018-12-07.
  4. ^ "BBC - BBC unveils brand new must-see dramas - Media Centre". Retrieved 2018-08-09.
  5. ^ Saad, Nardine (16 January 2012). "Golden Globes: Idris Elba wins for actor in a TV miniseries". Los Angeles Times. Showtracker (blog). Retrieved 16 January 2012.
  6. ^ "Outstanding Film and Television Performances Honored at the 22nd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards". 3 February 2016. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
  7. ^ "DCI John Luther". BBC. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
  8. ^ a b c d Ian Sandwell (26 January 2018). "Luther series 5 filming photos confirm return of a major character". Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  9. ^ "Meet the cast of Luther series five". Radio Times. Radio Times. Retrieved 22 December 2018.
  10. ^ "Sherlock and Luther recommissioned for BBC One". BBC. 28 August 2010. Retrieved 29 August 2010.
  11. ^ "Luther, Series 2, Episode 1". Retrieved 13 June 2011.
  12. ^ "BBC One orders 3rd season of Idris Elbas Luther". IndieWire. 27 August 2011. Retrieved 2 September 2011.
  13. ^ "BBC1 Boss unvieil comedy/Drama Plans". 27 August 2011. Retrieved 2 September 2011.
  14. ^ "BBC One - Luther". BBC. Retrieved 19 December 2015.
  15. ^ "LUTHER". Facebook. Retrieved 2014-01-10.
  16. ^ "Luther Series 3". Retrieved 19 December 2015.
  17. ^ "Luther, Series 3, Episode 1". BBC. Retrieved 28 June 2013.
  18. ^ Brown, Brigid (11 June 2013). "Trailer for Third Installment of 'Luther'". BBC America. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  19. ^ Justin Harp (19 November 2014). "Idris Elba returning to Luther for 2015 miniseries". Digital Spy. Retrieved 19 December 2015.
  20. ^ "Idris Elba Begins Filming BBC America's Two-Part 'Luther' Special". TV By The Numbers by 2015-03-04. Retrieved 19 December 2015.
  21. ^ "BBC One - Facebook". Retrieved 19 December 2015.
  22. ^ Lambert, David (25 September 2015). "Luther - 'Season 4' Date and Cost Confirmed; Front Cover Art Provided!". Archived from the original on 29 October 2015. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  23. ^ "Luther will be on BBC One in December". BBC One. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  24. ^ "Idris Elba returns to TV as 'Luther' for one-night special". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2016-01-03.
  25. ^ "Series 4, Episode 1". Retrieved 19 December 2015.
  26. ^ "Luther: Idris Elba to return for a fifth series". BBC News. BBC. 12 June 2017. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  27. ^ "Ruth Wilson confirms exciting detail about her Luther return". The Independent. 23 February 2018.
  28. ^ Cross, Neil (30 April 2010). "Introducing Luther – with love to Detective Columbo". BBC. Retrieved 19 September 2010.
  29. ^ "Luther: Season 1". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2014-01-10.
  30. ^ "Luther - Season 1 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2014-01-10.
  31. ^ Heritage, Stuart (10 May 2010). "How long should you stick with a disappointing TV show?". Retrieved 19 September 2010.
  32. ^ Heritage, Stuart (2 June 2010). "Have you been watching ... Luther?". Retrieved 19 September 2010.
  33. ^ "Luther: Season 2". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2014-01-10.
  34. ^ "Luther - Season 2 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2014-01-10.
  35. ^ Timberg, Scott (15 October 2011). "Luther – TV Review". Retrieved 24 October 2011.
  36. ^ Gorman, Bill (14 October 2011). "'Doctor Who,' 'Top Gear,' & 'Luther' Lead BBC America To Best Ratings Quarter Ever". Retrieved 24 October 2011.
  37. ^ "Luther: Season 3". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2014-01-10.
  38. ^ "Luther - Season 3 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2014-01-10.
  39. ^ "Luther: Season 4". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2017-06-15.
  40. ^ "Luther - Season 4 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2017-06-15.
  41. ^ "ABC Television – Luther". ABC. 4 May 2010. Retrieved 22 November 2010.
  42. ^ "WATCH: 'Luther' Season Three Trailer". Retrieved 15 August 2013.
  43. ^ Hale, Mike (2 September 2013). "Still Lonely, Troubled and Singularly Heroic". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  44. ^ "Luther: Songs And Score From Series 1, 2 & 3 (O.S.T.): Music". 2013-09-16. Retrieved 19 December 2015.
  45. ^ a b "2016 Image Winners". Variety. 2016-02-06. Retrieved March 10, 2016.
  46. ^ "Ask Idris: Part 5 of 5 - Luther - Series 2". BBC One]. June 3, 2011.
  47. ^ "'Luther' Creator Says Season 3 Will Be The Last Before Big Screen Leap + If Luther Was Written As A Black Man". March 22, 2012.
  48. ^ "Season 3 Of 'Luther' Will Intro His Moriarty, As Luther Reaches Retirement; But Don't Expect Until 2013; Also Less Alice". May 22, 2012.
  49. ^ "'Luther' Spin-Off Starring Ruth Wilson As Alice Morgan In The Works". The Huffington Post. September 9, 2012.
  50. ^ Westbrook, Caroline (24 August 2013). "Luther creator Neil Cross rules out fourth series of BBC One show". Metro. DMG Media. Retrieved 24 August 2013.
  51. ^ Chitwood, Adam (20 June 2013). "Idris Elba Says the LUTHER Movie "Will Be an Origin Story;" Series Three Premieres July 2nd". Collider. Complex Media. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  52. ^ Child, Ben (28 August 2013). "Idris Elba's Luther set for big screen prequel". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  53. ^ "I am Idris Elba, AMA!". Reddit. Retrieved 20 September 2014.
  54. ^ Harrison, Ellie (5 January 2019). "Will there be more Luther after series five? Idris Elba teases BBC drama future". Radio Times. Immediate Media. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  55. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (18 November 2014). "'Luther' Gets Fox Series Adaptation With Neil Cross Writing & Idris Elba Producing". Deadline. Retrieved 18 November 2014.
  56. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (9 March 2015). "Fox Delays 'Luther' Remake". The Hollywood Reporter.
  57. ^ Sandwell, Ian (8 March 2017). "Luther US remake - with Moonlight's Mahershala Ali replacing Idris Elba - has been scrapped". Digital Spy. Hearst. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  58. ^ A. Kim (February 5, 2018). "MBC Confirmed To Remake BBC Crime Drama "Luther"". Soompi.
  59. ^ "Shin Ha-kyun cast in MBC remake of 'Luther'". Korea JoongAng Daily. 3 August 2018.
  60. ^ "Korean adaptation of 'Luther' to go on small screen in winter".

External links[edit]