Traces (TV series)

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GenreCrime drama
Created by
Written by
  • Amelia Bullmore
  • Val McDermid
Directed by
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series2
No. of episodes12
Executive producersPhilippa Collie Cousins
Michaela Fereday
ProducerJuliet Charlesworth
Running time45 minutes
Original networkAlibi
Original release9 December 2019 (2019-12-09) –

Traces is a British television crime drama produced by Red Production Company (a StudioCanal company). Co-created and written by Val McDermid and Amelia Bullmore, and based upon an original idea by McDermid, it originally premiered on Alibi on 9 December 2019. The series was rerun on BBC One on 4 January 2021 and Series One began repeating on Drama on 15 January 2022.[1] A second six-episode season was released in February 2022.[2][3][4]


Traces focuses on three female forensic professionals, Emma Hedges, Sarah Gordon and Kathy Torrance, working together at the fictitious Scottish Institute of Forensic Science and Anatomy (SIFA) in Dundee, Scotland, as they uncover the truth of a murder case and bring a killer to justice.


In the first series, the cast was as follows:[5]

  • Molly Windsor[6] as Emma Hedges, a lab technician who has moved back to her birthplace of Dundee, for her new job, and in search of answers about her mother's murder.
  • Laura Fraser[7][8] as Professor Sarah Gordon, professor of Chemistry at the University of Tayside and Emma's new boss at SIFA.
  • Jennifer Spence[9] as Professor Kathy Torrence, a professor of forensic anthropology at the University of Tayside and a colleague at SIFA.
  • Martin Compston[10] as Daniel MacAfee, director of a construction company and romantic interest of Emma.
  • Vincent Regan[11] as Phil MacAfee, Daniel's father and former director of MacAfee Construction.
  • Michael Nardone[12] as Detective Inspector Neil McKinven, a friend of Professor Gordon who has insight on the Marie Monroe case.
  • Phil McKee as Jimmy Levin, husband of Marie Monroe and Emma's stepfather.
  • John Gordon Sinclair[13] as Drew Cubbin, Emma's father and ex-partner of Marie Monroe.
  • Morayo Akandé as Detective Constable Trina Adeboyo, colleague of DI McKinven at Police Scotland.
  • Jamie Marie Leary as Skye Alessi, Emma's childhood best friend.
  • Carly Anderson as Marie Monroe, Emma's mother who was murdered in 2001, and whose case remains unsolved.
  • Laurie Brett[14] as Izzy Alessi, best friend of Marie Monroe, and mother to Emma's childhood best friend Skye.
  • Joana Borja as Dr. Pia Salvador, forensic scientist and love interest of Professor Torrence.
  • Andrea Hart as Janine Muir, SIFA's receptionist.
  • Anna Leong Brophy as Louise Chiu Jones, chemist and Emma's colleague at SIFA who works alongside her in the lab.
  • Neve McIntosh as Julie Hedges, Emma's maternal aunt, who adopted her after the murder of her mother and took her to Manchester.
  • Janey Godley as Clare Tindall, a criminal defence lawyer who represents Daniel.


Traces is set in and around Dundee, but the majority of the series was filmed in Bolton, England.[15] The theme tune is a cover of Nina Simone's "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" by Valerie Broussard.[16]


Series overview[edit]

SeriesEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
169 December 2019 (2019-12-09)24 December 2019 (2019-12-24)
2615 February 2022 (2022-02-15)22 March 2022 (2022-03-22)

Series 1 (2019)[edit]

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateU.K. viewers
(millions) [17]
11"Episode 1"Mary NighyAmelia Bullmore9 December 2019 (2019-12-09)1.00
Emma, Kathy and Sarah, three forensic professionals working together at the Scottish Institute of Forensic Science (SIFA), try to unearth the truth about an unsolved murder that's very close to home. A fatal fire in a nightclub proves an ill omen for Emma’s return to Dundee. Her mother’s unsolved murder comes into sharp focus, forcing Emma to turn to her new boss, Sarah, for support.
22"Episode 2"Mary NighyAmelia Bullmore10 December 2019 (2019-12-10)0.89
Glad of McKinven’s help, Emma soon feels overwhelmed by the police interest and wonders what she has started. But when the stars align to put Daniel in her path, Emma feels a deep connection.
33"Episode 3"Mary NighyAmelia Bullmore16 December 2019 (2019-12-16)0.84
McKinven's initial enquiries ruffle feathers, and a furious Julie chides Emma for dragging up the past. When Skye threatens Emma with a knife, it’s clear that someone is hiding something.
44"Episode 4"Mary NighyAmelia Bullmore17 December 2019 (2019-12-17)0.79
Daniel faces a culpable homicide charge for the Secrets fire and wants to protect Phil’s reputation. But when Emma meets Phil for the first time, her instinct tells her to be wary of him.
55"Episode 5"Mary NighyAmelia Bullmore23 December 2019 (2019-12-23)0.81
Emma’s accusation against Phil drives a wedge between her and Daniel. McKinven urges Emma to stop sleuthing, as he becomes certain that the person who killed her mother is known to her.
66"Episode 6"Mary NighyAmelia Bullmore24 December 2019 (2019-12-24)0.83
While Kathy oversees the excavation of Marie’s grave, Daniel gives McKinven the lead he needs to make an arrest. But it’s the exacting forensic science that finally brings peace for Emma. The killer of Marie Monroe is revealed.

Series 2 (2022)[edit]

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateU.K. viewers
71"Episode 1"Chris FogginAmelia Bullmore15 February 2022 (2022-02-15)[18]N/A
82"Episode 2"Chris FogginAmelia Bullmore22 February 2022 (2022-02-22)N/A
93"Episode 3"Chris FogginJess Williams1 March 2022 (2022-03-01)N/A
104"Episode 4"Chris FogginJess Williams & Amelia Bullmore8 March 2022 (2022-03-08)N/A
115"Episode 5"N/AAmelia Bullmore15 March 2022 (2022-03-15)N/A
126"Episode 6"N/AAmelia Bullmore22 March 2022 (2022-03-22)N/A

Critical reception[edit]

Stuart Heritage reviewing on behalf of The Guardian rated the series three stars out of five, and whilst acknowledging the series is loaded with talent, said "this is what happens when TV runs out of new shows".[19] The Times awarded the series two out of five stars with Carol Midgley saying that "the biggest crime here so far is a lack of flavour".[20]


  1. ^ "Traces". DRAMA. UKTV. Retrieved 16 January 2022.
  2. ^ "Alibi Renews 'Traces' For Second Season". TV Wise. 28 September 2020. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  3. ^ "Will Traces Return For Series 2?". Bustle. 19 January 2021. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  4. ^ @alibi_channel (10 December 2021). "This just in! #Traces Series 2 will be on your screens in February 2022, with returning cast: @martin_compston,…" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  5. ^ "Meet the cast of BBC forensics drama Traces, 6 January 2021". Radio Times. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  6. ^ "Traces: Molly Windsor interview". Alibi. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  7. ^ "Laura Fraser says female-led TV shows like Traces are "still really rare", 4 January 2021". Radio Times. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  8. ^ "Traces: Laura Fraser interview". Alibi. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  9. ^ "Traces: Jennifer Spence interview". Alibi. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  10. ^ "Martin Compston says his Traces character is a "contrast" to Line of Duty's Steve Arnott, 4 January 2021". Radio Times. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  11. ^ "Traces: Vincent Regan interview". Alibi. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  12. ^ "Traces: Michael Nardone interview". Alibi. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  13. ^ "Traces: John Gordon Sinclair interview". Alibi. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  14. ^ "Traces: Laurie Brett interview". Alibi. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  15. ^ "Where is Traces filmed? Dundee filming locations for BBC One drama series with Martin Compston, 4 January 2021". i (newspaper). Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  16. ^ "Traces theme song: Explore the artist, songs and soundtrack of BBC Crime Drama". HITC. 5 January 2021. Retrieved 1 November 2021.
  17. ^ "BARB 7-Day viewing data". BARB.
  18. ^ Darvill, Josh (19 January 2022). "Traces series 2 release date and cast revealed as hit drama returns to Alibi". Tellymix. Retrieved 8 February 2022.
  19. ^ "Traces review - this is what happens when TV runs out of new shows, 4 January 2021". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  20. ^ "Traces review - the biggest crime here so far is a lack of flavour, 5 January 2021". The Times. Retrieved 22 January 2021.

External links[edit]