Belgian crime show The Twelve returns to More4

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The Twelve: The Cinderella Murder Belgian crime show

The second season of the Belgian crime drama The Twelve is coming to the UK with a case entitled The Cinderella Murder. A young woman stands accused of killing her step-mother, but beside her in the dock is her father – and 12 jurors must determine their fates. The first two episodes will hit British screens from 9pm on Friday 10 May, with further episodes every week until 21 June. The box set will be available to stream on Walter Presents.

The story begins in an Antwerp prison, where Julie Bergman (Louisa Peeters) is on remand for pushing her step-mother Marianne Coens (Katrien De Ruysscher) down the stairs, where she was found dead the next morning. Julie says it was an accident and that she attempted CPR then fled in shock.

Julie’s father, Anton Bergman (Koen De Graeve) is also awaiting trial. He fought with Marianne shortly before she died, drank himself into a stupor and can’t fully account for his whereabouts at the time of her death. Anton’s lawyer just wants a win and is encouraging him to blame Julie.

When the trial begins, we’re quickly taken into the complex lives of the accused and the victim, along with other family members. Julie is a triathlete, her coach is Marianne’s ex-husband Dennis, Anton hates Dennis and, well, there’s a lot more to unpack besides.

But The Twelve doesn’t stop there – it also takes us into the lives of several members of the jury (pictured above). We quickly see that in any trial the evidence is only part of the equation. Jurors’ own backgrounds and feelings affect how they interpret the story of Marianne’s death and over the series they will sympathise with and/or turn against Julie and Anton at various points as things unfold.

The Twelve: The Cinderella Murder Belgian crime show
Another juror will prey on Catherine’s (Chris Nietvelt) vulnerability.

This adds to the complexity of the show and to its emotional depth. For example, office worker Catherine is painfully lonely; musician Simon is carer for his disabled girlfriend; and journalist Nico has a teenage son who is being bullied to worry about. Other jurors are cold and judgemental, and some are out to get what they can for themselves, even during the trial. To add insult to injury, their coffee machine doesn’t work!

All the while, we’re taken back to key stages of the investigation and it becomes apparent that some of the witnesses and characters around the trial may not be telling the whole truth.

The Twelve: The Cinderella Murder is interesting to watch for a variety of reasons. Trials in Belgium are different – the environment isn’t as formal as in the UK, the jurors can and do watch media reporting on the trial, and they are allowed to ask questions in the courtroom.

The Twelve: The Cinderella Murder Belgian crime show
The accused, Anton, loses his temper with Dennis.

Although you’ll probably side with Julie early on, it’s a programme that doesn’t really have a main protagonist. There’s no detective or lawyer leading the investigation or the courtroom narrative. We move between the lives of eight or nine different characters, being drawn into the issues they face. It’s a powerful reminder that while guilty or not guilty is where the story is heading, justice is anything but black and white.

The production values are of a high standard, with some strong acting. The way we move between different people’s lives is a little reminiscent of Unforgotten however, like many European crime dramas, the writers do try and fit a lot in. By episode two, we are deep into the stress and the melancholy certain jurors experience, with some very unsettling events occurring aside from the murder.

The dialogue is in Dutch with English subtitles, and in spite of this and the programme’s complexity it’s quite easy to follow and engage with. An intelligent crime show that shows us everyday life intersecting with the world of criminal justice from several different perspectives.

The Twelve: The Cinderella Murder consists of eight 50-minute episodes and originally aired in Belgium from September 2023. The first season was remade as The Twelve in Australia, with Sam Neill starring, which can be streamed on ITVX in the UK. Season one in Dutch is available on Walter Presents in the UK and on Netflix in the US.

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