Kidnap and Ransom 2, Trevor Eve PREVIEW

Armed with his three mobiles – Dominic King (Trevor Eve). Pics: ITV

Rating: ★★★½ 

ITV1, starts Thursday, 23 February, 9pm

Story: Srinagar, Kashmir. Dominic King is negotiating the release of a British Asian family kidnapped while visiting their son, Mahavir. As the handover is completed, the police turn up unexpectedly and a shoot-out ensues. The kidnappers (Anwar and Leela) get away with Mahavir and in their panic they board a tourist bus, taking all the passengers hostage…

Dealing with homicidal hostage takers is not a barrel of laughs, which makes Trevor Eve the ideal actor to play Dominic King.

He doesn’t do light-hearted. There were few giggles in Waking the Dead or Bouquet of Barbed Wire. But when it comes to the furrowed brow and tight lips, Eve is King, so to speak.

Even the trigger-happy police are hard work

His former military man turned hostage negotiator is back in the middle of a mighty mess here. A well-planned operation to free the kidnapped Mehta family goes wrong when the police provoke a shoot-out. The Mehtas’ son, Mahavir, is snatched and the kidnappers, Anwar and Leela, hijack a bus containing British, American and German tourists.

Pregnant woman and a hostage with a secret
Making matters worse is the political indifference in London – the Foreign Secretary wants Dominic to step aside and leave negotiations to the trigger-happy Kashmir police.

Writer Michael Crompton, whose inspiration for this three-partner was the 1993 hijacking of a bus in Rio that spiralled out of control, skilfully weaves more drama into the crisis. So there’s a pregnant woman among the hostages, intrigue about the kidnappers, the dying father ill with cancer and the eventual discovery that someone on-board is more valuable than the increasingly desperate Anwar realises.

Dominic, whose company, Beddoes King, negotiates for hostages on behalf of insurance firms, is a Sherlock Holmes among negotiators, expert in the science of crisis management and always one step ahead of police and gunmen. He virtually hijacks the crisis and buys more time to talk by exposing police incompetence to the world’s media and getting in touch with Amwar via mobile phone.

Helen Baxendale – love interest?
However, he’s not such an expert in managing his personal life. His second marriage, to Sophie, is breaking up, his reluctance to return from the trouble spots and support her career being the main reason.

Business and pleasure? Angela (Helen Baxendale)

Helen Baxendale is back as Angela Beddoes, Dominic’s business partner, and their relationship becomes emotionally charged – which would surely need serious negotiation before it could work as a romance between such a distant, high-powered couple.

Shadowy negotiators
Kidnap and Ransom was created by Patrick Harbinson (24, Law & Order, ER) and is made by Eve’s production company Projector Pictures. While the main jolt of dramatic tension is of course down to the ticking clock – Amwar giving deadlines before he executes hostages, Dominic jumping through hoops – another big plus point is the research that goes into it, Eve and the team having met the shadowy real-life negotiators and getting the scripts checked by them.

This can inject the characters with believable detail. As Eve explains, ‘Most of them are retired, military men, who really can’t live with retirement and they’re trying to go back to the adrenaline. When we’ve met  them they have their three phones, and every now and then they’ll walk away and say, “Sorry, it’s the situation,” which is what they call it, and they take the call. I’ve met five of them and they were all pretty much the same – they just wanted to be back on the front line for the thrills and the tension of it all.’ A bit like Dominic King.

With 20,000 kidnaps reported every year, this series could run and run. That should put a smile on Eve’s face.

Cast: Trevor Eve Dominic King, Helen Baxendale Angela Beddoes, Amara Karan Carrie Heath, Natasha Little Sophie King,  Owen Teale Robert Holland, Kimberley Nixon Florence Holland,   Madhur Mittal Anwar Razdan, Hasina Haque Leela Nishad, Gregg Chillin Mahavir Mehta, Sharon Small Beth Cooper, Letisha Singh Insp. Joythi Kohli, Daniel Fox Karl Fraser, Barbara Marten Janet Taylor, Chris Fairbank Chris Taylor, Sean Gilder Shaun Cooper, Khalil Kathrada Indian Tour Guide, Conrad Kemp Joshua, Kerstin Frances Louise, Dylan Skews Brendan, Lise Slabber Rhiane, David Dennis Mr Hiresh Mehta, Denise Newman Mrs Jasmin Mehta, Chae Pieterse Elina Mehta, Peter Butler Iqbal Razdan   

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