Cuffs, BBC1, Ashley Walters, Amanda Abbington

Cuffs – PC Jake Vickers (JACOB IFAN), PC Ryan Draper (ASHLEY WALTERS), PC Lino Moretti (ALEX CARTER), PC Donna Prager (ELEANOR MATSUURA)

Cop this – PC Jake Vickers (Jacob Ifan), PC Ryan Draper (Ashley Walters), PC Lino Moretti (Alex Carter), PC Donna Prager (Eleanor Matsuura)

Pounding an action-packed beat in Brighton, Cuffs looks set to apprehend a significant 8pm audience for BBC1

★★★½ BBC1, starts Wednesday, 28 October, 8pm

ON FIRST appearances there isn’t anything startlingly new about Cuffs. In its depiction of life on the beat for coppers it recalls a line of popular dramas from Z Cars to The BillIf Cuffs is going to be a hit, it will no doubt have to hook viewers by having terrific stories and characters within this familiar format.

Cuffs – Misha Baig (Bhavna Limbachia), faces a robber (RAY DE HAAN) - (C) Tiger Aspect

Confrontation – Misha Baig (Bhavna Limbachia) faces a robber (Rey de Haan)

With writer Julie Gearey onboard – who also brought us Prisoners’ Wives and Secret Diary of a Call Girl – it certainly looks capable of becoming a crowd-puller. While Prisoners’ Wives did not create a sensation like Broadchurch did, it was a gripping series with compelling characters and no doubt convinced the Beeb that Gearey was the woman to bring us Cuffs.

 It also has an eye-catching cast, including Ashley Walters (Top Boy) Peter Sullivan (The Borgias), Amanda Abbington (Sherlock), Shaun Dooley (The Game), Paul Ready (Utopia), Eleanor Matsuura (Utopia) and Alex Carter (Hollyoaks, Emmerdale). Cuffs also introduces Jacob Ifan in his first leading television role.

Jacob Ifan and Ashley Walters

Ifan plays PC Jake Vickers, son of Chief Superintendent Robert Vickers. He is also a total rookie and it is his first day on the job under the mentorship of seasoned constable Ryan Draper (Ashley Walter). This forms the central story of the pilot episode of this eight-part series.

So, the story is instantly ripe with conflict and drama. Ryan doesn’t like the boss’s son, the boss’s son initially seems hopeless at his job, and just in case that isn’t enough, Jake is also gay, with eyes for a slick defence solicitor he spots at the nick.

This is a pretty similar to the setup to the one we saw in the superb US series Southland, which took us onto the mean streets of LA in the company of a hard-bitten cop and his rookie.

Brighton has a starring role

Cuffs is set on the not-quite-so-mean streets of Brighton, but the town is still an inspired choice, with its diverse population and slightly shady potential as a place where people go to get away from it all.

Other juicy storylines include Amanda Abbington’s Jo, a detective sergeant who is good at her job but is reduced to jelly in the presence of the married Chief Supt Vickers, with whom she definitely has a history.

Behind the scenes – Ashley Walters

Behind the scenes – Ashley Walters

It’s all grounded enough to stay on the right side of soapiness. And there is plenty of dashing about to keep viewers glued to their sets.

It’s certainly a high-energy hour filmed on the streets, taking in fairly tough storylines about racist stabbings, drug deaths and a child abduction. It is also the first BBC1 drama commissioned for the 8pm slot since Holby Blue in 2007, and pushes the edginess of its stories as far as it can.

Early evening is traditional dominated by soaps, so it is good to see the Beeb trying to shift the balance towards something a little more, ahem, arresting.

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