Salamander, BBC4, Belgian cop show with Filip Peeters PREVIEW

Joachim Klaus leads the raid on the Jonkhere bank which targets members of the secret society “Salamander" Joachim Klaus (KOEN DE BOUW), Salamander BBC4
Klaus leads the early-morning raid on the Jonkhere bank. Pics: BBC

Rating: ★★★★

BBC4: starts Saturday, 8 February, 9pm

Story: Disguised as builders, a group of robbers descend on a top Belgium private bank – but the burglars have no eye for money or other valuables…

FOLLOWING the superb second series of The Bridge, BBC4 virtually has a captive audience for its Saturday night slot who are now craving the next brilliant foreign language crime series.

Salamander should satisfy their addiction. It doesn’t have such great characters as Saga and Martin, but it is a very slick thriller – taut, polished and gripping.

So, Belgium is the next stop on the tour of crime-ravaged Europe. Salamander starts with a beautifully executed raid on the vaults of a private bank, via a manhole in the street.

‘There’s a traitor in our midst’

To the throb of a synthesiser beat, the well choreographed heist sees the team break into the vault and carefully select 66 of 800 safety deposit boxes. These contain the dirty photos and sensitive documents that could compromise the country’s industrial, royal and political elite.

The plot thickens nicely when the head of the bank, Jonkhere, who looks like a bald-headed Bond villain, realises this is no normal robbery. ‘There’s a traitor in our midst,’ he says, and decrees that the crime must not be reported to the police.

This is where our maverick cop enters. We first encounter Paul Gerardi in bed badgering his wife for a ‘quickie’. She declines and leaves for work. Not very Bond-like.

Sarah Geradi (AN MILLER), Salamander BBC4
Gerardi’s wife, Sarah

Filip Peeters as Paul Gerardi

However, work impinges on his leisurely morning when he hears from a discredited snitch that a major heist has gone down in the city. While Gerardi is dubious and his superiors totally dismissive, a toll of murder and suicide prompts the inspector to dig deeper.

Action and intrigue are the ingredients of the high-octane opening episode, but once the pace settles it will be interesting to see how Gerardi measures up to recent Saturday night heroes Sarah Lund, Saga Noren and Martin Rohde.

Despite the indifference of his wife, will the white-haired Gerardi become a new sex symbol for Saturday nights? Who is trying to disrupt the state by stealing all those boxes? And who is Salamander?

Cast: Filip Peeters Paul Gerardi, Koen De Bouw Joachim Klaus, Mike Verdrengh Raymond Jonkhere, Violet Braeckman Sofie Gerardi, Lucas Van den Eynde Carl Cassimon, Jo De Meyere Procureur-generaal Armand Persigal, Koen van Impe Vic Adams, Warre Borgmans  Commissaris Martin Colla, Vic de Wachter Gil Wolfs, Tine Reymer Patricia Wolfs

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