Line of Duty 4, Thandie Newton

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 12/03/2017 - Programme Name: Line of Duty - Series 4 - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Series Iconic **EMBARGOED UNTIL SUNDAY 12TH MARCH 2017** Detective Chief Inspector Roz Huntley (THANDIE NEWTON), Detective Sergeant Steve Arnott (MARTIN COMPSTON), Superintendent Ted Hastings (ADRIAN DUNBAR), Detective Sergeant Kate Fleming (VICKY McCLURE) - (C) World Productions - Photographer: Des Willie/ Aidan Monaghan

Suspicious minds – Det Chief Inspector Roz Huntley (Thandie Newton), Det Sergeant Steve Arnott (Martin Compston), Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar), Det Sergeant Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure)

Another breathless and twisting engagement with the corruption-busters

★★★★ BBC1, starts Sunday, 26 March, 9pm

LINE OF DUTY has got better and better in previous series. Sadly, there is no Keeley Hawes this time, but the show has mixed up the chemistry with another interesting new face – Thandie Newton.

The corruption-busters played by Martin Compston, Vicky McClure and Adrian Dunbar return. This time there is a bit of needle between newly promoted Kate Fleming (McClure) and the not newly promoted Steve Arnott (Compston).

Thandie Newton, familiar from films such as Crash and most recently TV’s Westworld, here plays DCI Roz Huntley. Her team captures a serial killer and straightaway she is under pressure to make a charge stick.

Line of Duty‘s game of mirrors

The fly in the ointment is her forensics guy, Tim Ifield (Jason Watkins), who suggests the educationally backward suspect has been framed.

Programme Name: Line of Duty - Series 4 - TX: n/a - Episode: Line of Duty - Series 4 - Ep 1 (No. 1) - Picture Shows: **EMBARGOED UNTIL 00.01HRS THURSDAY 16TH MARCH 2017** Tim Ifield (JASON WATKINS) - (C) World Productions - Photographer: Aidan Monaghan

Bringing corruption to light? Tim Ifield (Jason Watkins)

The beauty of Line of Duty is that investigating police wrongdoing is a dangerous game of mirrors, and once again the viewer is not sure who is good and not so good. The immediate face-off is between Roz and the slightly creepy Tim. But is Roz bent?

Or is Tim playing some kind of game with her? It is Tim who gets AC-12 involved at looking into Roz.

Lee Ingleby as Roz’s husband

As happened with the opening of series 3 and the explosive introduction to Daniel Mays’s  off-kilter cop Danny Waldron, once again we’re swept along in a breathless opening episode. An abduction, a frantic chase and an explosion – it’s exhausting to watch.

Programme Name: Line of Duty - Series 4 - TX: n/a - Episode: Line of Duty - Series 4 - Ep 1 (No. 1) - Picture Shows: Detective Chief Inspector Roz Huntley (THANDIE NEWTON), Detective Sergeant Kate Fleming (VICKY McCLURE) - (C) World Productions - Photographer: Aidan Monaghan

Watching the detective – Roz Huntley and Kate Fleming

Lee Ingleby plays Roz’s husband and, though he doesn’t have much to do in the opener, it is clear that her private will be a vital part of the drama.

As we’ve come to expect, the performances are compelling and the atmosphere as claustrophobic as the Victoria Line during rush hour.

It’s refreshing to have such a well-written crime series that breaks free of the traditional British obsession with period whodunits. This is rough and tough, and the climax at the end of episode one is almost absurdly nail-biting.

Line of Duty 3, BBC2, Daniel Mays

Line of Duty - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 1) - Picture Shows: Detective Constable Kate Fleming (VICKY McCLURE), Sgt Danny Waldron (DANIEL MAYS), Detective Sergeant Steve Arnott (MARTIN COMPSTON) - (C) World Productions - Photographer: Steffan Hill

Deadly force: DC Kate Fleming (Vicky McCure), Sgt Danny Waldron (Daniel Mays), DS Steve Arnott (Martin Compston)

Third instalment of the corruption cops saga is another taut and gripping affair

★★★★ BBC2, Thursday, 24 March, 9pm

DANIEL MAYS has always had a nice sideline in larky roles, from the C4 sitcom Plus One to the recent Dad’s Army movie. Even when he’s played a villain, such as Ronnie Biggs in Mrs Biggs, he was more of a rogue than a hard case.

So it seemed unlikey casting to make him Sergeant Danny Waldron, a proper bastard, in the latest incarnation of the cop corruption drama Line of Duty. However, the decision is totally justified – he uses his full acting skills and height of 6’2″ to put the fear of god into all those around him.

The story sees Waldron brought up on a killing charge before series regulars Supt Hastings (Adrian Dunbar), DS Arnott (Martin Compston) and DI Cottan (Craig Parkinson). Waldron heads an armed unit that corners a suspected gang hitman, who ends up dead in suspicious circumstances.

Daniel Mays is terrific as Waldron

When other members of the team are reluctant to go along with Waldron’s questionable version of events, he tells them with a sneer: “We’re all in this together.”

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 20:30:01 on 07/03/2016 - Programme Name: Line of Duty - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: PC Rod Kennedy (WILL MELLOR), Sgt Danny Waldron (DANIEL MAYS), PC Hari Bains (ARSHER ALI), PC Jackie Brickford (LEANNE BEST) - (C) World productions - Photographer: Steffan Hill

Law unto themselves? PC Kennedy (Will Mellor), Sgt Waldron (Daniel Mays), PC Bains (Arsher Ali), PC Brickford (Leanne Best)

He faces down Supt Hastings and his inquisitors in a bravura, lengthy interrogation scene during which he spits out facts and regulations at the anti-corruption boys of AC-12. When he goes jogging he pushes himself to extremes and ends up vomiting.

And when squad member Hari (Arsher Ali) looks like he may break ranks, Waldron is genuinely scary when slapping him down. This guy is a walking volcano, and Mays is terrific in the role. [Read more…]

A Touch of Cloth 3, Sky1, John Hannah, Suranne Jones, Karen Gillan PREVIEW

A Touch of Cloth Season 3..(L-R) DC QURESHI (NAVIN CHOWDHRY) DR SACHET(DAISY BEAUMONT)DC HAIRIHAN(ADRIAN BOWER) DI CLOTH (JOHN HANNAH) DC OLDMAN (SURANNE JONES) KERRY (KAREN GILLAN)
Guilty party – Cloth and the gang. Pics: Sky1

Rating: ★★★½

Sky1: starts Saturday, 9 August, 9pm

Story: It took DCI Jack Cloth a while to come to terms with his wife’s murder – he barely remembers her name these days – and now he’s hit with the news that his brother, Terry, has been killed.

A TOUCH OF CLOTH has everything you could want from a gritty crime drama – tortured maverick cop, gruesome forensics, twisting plot. And a town called Funtcuck.

Charlie Brooker’s criminally stupid piss-take returns to truncheon the genre into submission again with ridiculous cases, silly gags and wickedly straight performances.

Subtle and suave it ain’t – more a shotgun blast of every cop procedural cliche and suspect gag the writers could round up.

Too Cloth for Comfort

A Touch of Cloth Season 3.BEHIND THE SCENES WITH DI JACK CLOTH (JOHN HANNAH) AND KERRY NEWBLOOD (KAREN GILLAN)
Cloth finds his long lost brother

Many jokes escape without detection, but a lot are guilty of inducing a spluttered chortle – and then making you feel guilty that you could be so puerile.

Crime shows are this site’s bread and butter, of course, but even we think there are an awful lot of rubbish cop series around. You know the ones – grumpy detective with a sidekick, silly tracking shots, wild deductions that solve the crime, forensic nonsense, ham-fisted plot recaps.

All these get worked over in this two-parter, Too Cloth for Comfort, along with some other well-deserving targets (Piers Morgan in particular).

Karen Gillan as Kerry Newblood

John Hannah and Suranne Jones as DCI John Cloth and DI Anne Oldman (pronounced Old-Man, of course) both do a fine job of snitching on the conventions of the straight cop beats they’ve worked in recent years. Hannah was seen recently in ITV’s The Widower and Rebus before that, and Jones will soon be back in the excellent Scott & Bailey.

Doctor Who‘s ex Karen Gillan joins the carry-on as new recruit Kerry Newblood (see what I mean about unsubtle).

‘Welcome to the rest of your life, welcome to hell,’ the hardbitten Cloth tells her.

And Adrian Dunbar – a refugee from another cop series, Line of Duty – also turns up as a suspect.

Danes and pathology

A Touch of Cloth Season 3..DC OLMAN (SURANNE JONES) AND KERRY (KARNE GILLAN)
Oldman (Suranne Jones) and Newblood (Karen Gillan)

The plot? Cloth’s brother is found murdered in a forest. But that’s just an excuse for lines such as, ‘He was the best lover I ever had – until it went pair-shaped.’ Or some very sharp scenes in a country pub in Funtcuck and the pathologist’s mortuary.

The crime genre badly needs cleaning up, and it’s good to Jack Cloth and his squad of cliche-busters are back on the scene.

Cast: John Hannah DCI Jack Cloth, Suranne Jones DI Anne Oldman, Julian Rhind-Tutt ACC Tom Boss, Navin Chowdhry DC Asap Qureshi, Adrian Bower DC Des Hairihan, Daisy Beaumont Dr Natasha Sachet, Karen Gillan Kerry Newblood, Adrian Dunbar Damien Vull

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A Touch of Cloth on Facebook
A Touch of Cloth on Sky1

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Line of Duty 2, BBC2, with Martin Compston, Vicky McClure, Adrian Dunbar, Keeley Hawes PREVIEW

Detective Sergeant Steve Arnott (MARTIN COMPSTON), Detective Inspector Lindsay Denton (KEELEY HAWES), Detective Constable Kate Fleming (VICKY McCLURE) in Line of Duty, BBC
In the spotlight – Denton (Keeley Hawes) is monitored by Arnott (Martin Compston) and Fleming (Vicky McClure). Pics: BBC

Rating: ★★★★

BBC2: starts Wednesday, 12 February, 9pm

Story: A police convoy is ambushed and three officers are killed and a witness seriously injured. When evidence suggests that a police source may have leaked the convoy’s whereabouts, suspicion arises that the sole surviving police officer, Detective Inspector Lindsay Denton, could be the prime suspect. 

LENNIE JAMES put in a blistering performance in series one as the detective chief inspector under scrutiny for corruption. The success of this follow-up series will also depend on the new cop under the spotlight being as slippery and intriguing an adversary for the anti-corruption unit AC-12.

On hearing that the role is being played by Keeley Hawes, you might think she’s too glam, too

Detective Inspector Lindsay Denton (KEELEY HAWES) in Line  of Duty, BBC
Victim or perpetrator? DI Lindsay Denton

lightweight to cut it as a hardened cop scrapping for survival in the shark-infested police hierarchy.

But, actually, she’s a revelation here. Forget all her larking about in Ashes to Ashes and dressing up in Upstairs Downstairs. She’s discarded some of the make-up, dresses down a bit and really keeps the viewer on their toes in a terrific opening episode.

Suspicion falls on Keeley Hawes’s detective inspector

It bursts into life with a tense sequence in which her character, Detective Inspector Lindsay Denton, is improvising a highly dangerous and hastily thrown together transfer of a witness from one compromised hide-out to another location.

When the police convoy is ambushed on a quiet back road, with three officers being brutally killed and the witness badly injured, it seems a fair guess that someone leaked the convoy’s route. Suspicion falls on the lone police survivor of the disaster – DI Denton.

A car in a police convoy is set alight by a masked person in Line of Duty, BBC2
The brutal ambush by masked gunmen

The injured inspector is initially vulnerable, ostracised by colleagues and superiors on her return to duty. There is a shocking scene on her first day back when the officers inflict a brutal welcome on her in the Ladies.

Martin Compston, Vicky McClure and Adrian Dunbar return

And then AC-12 use an interview with her to make veiled accusations that she may have been behind the leak. Martin Compston, Vicky McClure and Adrian Dunbar revisit their roles as Arnott, Fleming and Hastings, with Hastings as the smiling inquisitor – to the discomfort of Arnott and his new colleague DC Trotman (Jessica Raine). He tells Denton she was a ‘desk destective’, implying she was out of her depth on this frontline operation.

But the series writer and creator, Jed Mercurio, gives us glimpses of another side to Denton that keep us wondering about her role in the ambush. He also develops the characters of the AC-10 officers further while creating a web of ambitions and dodgy goings-on that make it difficult for viewers to know who to side with.

Superintendent Ted Hastings (ADRIAN DUNBAR), Detective Sergeant Steve Arnott (MARTIN COMPSTON), Detective Constable Kate Fleming (VICKY McCLURE) in Line of Duty, BBC2
Watching the detectives – Hastings, Arnott and Fleming

The opening episode combines pacey storytelling with interesting, believable characters in addition to an explosive end. I felt series one started well and became a bit lurid as it went on.

But if series two keeps up the terrific quality of episode one, it will put even Lennie James and his series in the shade.

Cast: Keeley Hawes Detective Inspector Lindsay Denton, Martin Compston Detective Sergeant Steve Arnott, Vicky McClure Detective Constable Kate Fleming, Adrian Dunbar Superintendent Ted Hastings, Mark Bonnar Deputy Chief Constable Mike Dryden, Jessica Raine Detective Constable Georgia Trotman

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Line of Duty series 2, Sebastian Bergman novel, Ruth Rendell’s Thirteen Steps Down on ITV1

• So, Line of Duty has been recommissioned for a second series, having concluded with the suicide of Lennie James’ character DCI Tony Gates at the end of the five-parter. The Beeb’s honchos are pleased with viewing figures of between three and four million for the drama, and Jed Mercurio did a fine job in creating a cop show that veered away from the boring procedural cliches – homicide cops turning up at a murder scene etc – for a more realistic slant on modern policing and corruption.

DS Steve Arnott (MARTIN COMPSTON), Detective Constable Kate Fleming (VICKY McCLURE)
Arnott and Fleming. Pic: BBC

The series had some tremendous twists, but the problem with stunning plot swerves is that the story then has to work bloody hard to make sense of them – and this is where Line of Duty went off the rails for me. Jackie’s murder was a gobsmacking moment, but was Gates’ appearance and framing for her murder fortuitous? Surely, it could not have been planned, so the killers, who were not that bright, suddenly improvised by setting up the detective? Gates’ suicide was another shocker, but somehow seemed a little false. After all, this was the great survivor, who insisted to the last that he wasn’t bent and loved his family.

And of course Dot’s emergence right at the end as the real supervillain was another stunner. So this suggests he knew of Tony’s secret affair with Jackie, and we were left to assume he somehow engineered his boss’s framing and downfall, though this was never explained. Arnott and Kate lying that Gates was pursuing the suspect when he was killed was ludicrous – there was a whole traffic jam of motorists behind who could have testified that that was not the case.

The Guardian has a good blog on the series, and they rightly point out that Line of Duty could have done with more episodes. And I also agree that it was more interesting when it was dealing with Tony’s corruption, before Jackie’s murder.

Overall, it was engrossing, and Lennie James, Vicki McClure, Adrian Dunbar and Neil Morrissey were all convincing in their respective roles. Series two should be interesting.

• Watch out for the forthcoming novel of Sebastian Bergman, on which BBC4’s recent two-parter from Sweden was based. I’ve been sent it by the excellent Shots ezine to review and I’m just about to start it. It’s written by a duo called (Michael) Hjorth (Hans) Rosenfeldt (the latter being the creator of The Bridge), and Rolf Lassgård was excellent as the police profiler tormented by the deaths of his wife and child in a tsunami.

• TV is absorbed with running, jumping, swimming and cycling at the moment, but there are one or two drama gems tucked in amid the London medal chases. Ruth Rendell’s Thirteen Steps Down comes to ITV1 on Wednesday, 1 August. Rendell seems to have less of a profile than she did 10 or 15 years ago, but she is still the queen of the disturbing psychological thriller. This two-parter, starring Luke Treadaway, Geraldine James and Elarica Gallacher, revolves around Max and the fantasies he has that steer him towards becoming a potential murderer. Preview coming next week.

• Finally, dreary Downton Abbey is up against Breaking Bad for best drama at this year’s Emmys. Breaking what? you may ask if you reside in Britain, owing to the criminal lack of airspace being given to this totally superb series in the UK. It’s better than Downton by miles, better than Mad Men, Homeland, Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire – all of whom are in the face-off for the gong. Channel 5 showed series one and two of BB, which stars Bryan Cranston as a chemistry teacher with cancer who decides to become a illegal drug manufacturer. In terms of visually superb storytelling, originality and fine acting, BB is way out in front. Coming soon – CrimeTimePreview’s national campaign to get Breaking Bad back on our screens. Or you could get the DVD… Follow @crimetimeprev

Line of Duty starring Lennie James PREVIEW

Line of Duty: DCI James, DS Arnott and DC Fleming. Pics: BBC

Rating: ★★★★

BBC2: starts Tuesday, 26 June, 9pm

Story: Steve Arnott is a young officer who’s fallen foul of his superiors for refusing to help in the cover-up of an operation that ended in the shooting of an innocent father. He seems ideal to join AC-12, an anti-corruption police unit, just as it starts to investigate Detective Chief Inspector Tony Gates, the regional force’s Officer of the Year.

Dodgy cops and a public cheated of decent policing are the themes of this bold and tense new thriller. An intelligent, gripping drama that delves into the reality of modern policing is long overdue.

Lennie James plays DCI Tony Gates, a Jag-driving, highly commended detective with a complicated professional and private life. Adrian Dunbar is the ‘zealot’ anti-corruption cop, Superintendent Hastings, who suspects that Gates’ glowing record and outstanding clear-up rate is not all it’s cracked up to be.

Fleming wants to join the ‘big, sexy’ crime squad

He drafts in young DS Steve Arnott, played by Martin Compston – who has refused his previous boss’s order to help cover-up police failings that resulted in the killing of an innocent man – to join his crusade against bent coppers. Trouble is, Steve is not sure Gates is up to no good. When Hastings cites Gates for not reporting a free restaurant meal he accepted, Arnott’s belief that Hastings is just picking on a good officer seems to be confirmed.

Vicky McClure as DC Fleming
Writer/producer Jed Mercurio deftly and quickly establishes a murky and troubling depiction of modern coppering, with characters treading a fine line between getting the job done and breaking the rules.

His story introduces us to the practice of ‘laddering’, or cherry-picking easy cases, then adding a series of bogus charges that never make it to court but boost an officer’s clear-up figures. And we also see DC Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) being ordered to ‘prioritise’ – pursue two out of three cases, while downgrading a third that can’t be resolved quickly.

What makes the drama captivating is that there are so many grey areas around the characters, particularly Gates. He disarms a thug trying to mug a young mother, but also helps his girlfriend (Gina McKee) to dodge a drink-driving rap, which he doesn’t realise is actually a hit-and-run killing.

DCI Gates’ ‘big, sexy’ crime squad
Fleming also notices him massaging his caseload, but is he a crook? Watching Hastings and his boys trying to prove it over five episodes will be intriguing, but it is a refreshing change to see a mainstream UK crime drama that isn’t about ingenious serial killers or murderers in picturesque settings.

Watchful: Gates and Morton

Gates’ ‘big, sexy’ crime squad TO-20 is an all-male club that includes Gates’ loyal followers DS Matt ‘Dot’ Cottan, DC Deepak Kapoor and DC Nigel Morton. It’s a club that ambitious Kate Fleming wants to join. Gates has an aura as the force’s star attraction and most would back his confidence that he can see off Hastings and AC-12.

Mercurio, the man who created the excellent drama Cardiac Arrest, says of the drama’s genesis, ‘My research revealed that modern policing is a far cry from the familiar world of most police dramas. Police procedures have been transformed by a target culture that dictates which crimes get investigated – and which don’t. Forces across the country routinely drop one in three reported crimes to concentrate on cases that can be solved within a workable timeframe by workable manpower… These revelations provided the perfect setting for our thriller, the less familiar precinct wherein the police police themselves.’

Lennie James must be delighted that Mercurio’s role of the sharp-witted police boss Gates came his way. He puts in a classy performance as the copper’s copper, and watching him trying to keep his empire together is going to be one of the summer’s main TV attractions.

Cast: Lennie James DCI Tony Gates, Martin Compston DS Steve Arnott, Vicky McClure DC Kate Fleming, Gina McKee Jackie Laverty, Adrian Dunbar Superintendent Ted Hastings, Craig Parkinson DS Matt ‘Dot’ Cottan, Neil Morrissey DC Nigel Morton, Faraz Ayub DC Deepak Kapoor

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