DCI Banks 4, ITV, with Stephen Tompkinson, Andrea Lowe, Caroline Catz PREVIEW

ANDREA LOWE as DS Annie Cabot, STEPHEN TOMPKINSON as DCI Banks and CAROLINE CATZ as DI Helen Morton
DS Cabot (Andrea Lowe), Banks (Stephen Tompkinson) and DI Morton (Caroline Catz)

 

★★½ ITV: Wednesday, 4 March, 9pm

Story: When Banks suffers a massive personal loss, along with knowledge that Annie is back with her former boyfriend, David, he is forced to navigate a complex murder investigation while still grieving.

I HAVE made the mistake of criticising past series of DCI Banks, and then having to duck as fans of the show – and of Stephen Tompkinson in particular – sent their outraged comments raining down on this site.

My indifference to the drama is that is has largely abandoned the merits of Peter Robinson’s well-written books and that Tompkinson is miscast. He’s a good actor with hit productions on his CV – Drop the Dead Donkey, Brassed Off, Wild at Heart – but as the tough but occasionally charming Alan Banks he seems entirely wrong to me.

The feedback I’ve got in the past has been from viewers who adore him, however, and get upset if he is criticised. Fans, in other words. Which is why, of course, ITV and the Beeb occasionally plonk any popular star in a totally inappropriate role. Because he/she is popular.

The murder of a woman found buried

The other letdown is that DCI Banks offers nothing fresh. Let’s face it, crime dramas are 10 a penny on TV, and the police procedural is most rundown, hackneyed genre going.

In this opening story, What Will Survive, it’s the same old, same old. Banks turns up at a remote spot near a power station where the forensic bods are tending to a partially buried female body.

So, it’s a case of tracking down leads. Did you know the deceased? Where were you on Wednesday night? Dialogue constantly explaining the plot. We’ve seen it all many times before. DCI Banks is taken entirely from the TV police procedural rule book.

DCI BANKS SERIES 4. STEPHEN TOMPKINSON as DCI Banks and CAROLINE CATZ as DI Helen Morton.
Morton and Banks tackle a gang of youths

When there are some really gripping crime dramas around – Line of Duty, Happy Valley, Broadchurch – Banks just looks dull.

Banks battles his grief

In fairness, the scriptwriters are attempting to develop Banks’s character. So mention is made of his eclectic taste in music, and his parents are in the foreground of the story, played by Keith Barron and Polly Hemingway.

Grief also plays a big part in Banks’s journey this time, as the story delves into a tangle of immigration, prostitution and drugs.

It is a hard-hitting opener for the fourth series. If you want to a bog-standard cop procedural, this should do nicely. And Stephen Tompkinson devotees will be delighted, of course.

Cast: Stephen Tompkinson DCI Alan Banks, Andrea Lowe DS Annie Cabbot, Caroline Catz DI Helen Morton

 

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