The Code, BBC4, Dan Spielman, Ashley Zukerman, Lucy Lawless PREVIEW

Jesse Banks (ASHLEY ZUCKERMAN) The Code
Jesse’s hacking skills open up a world of danger in The Code. Pics: BBC

Rating: ★★★½

BBC4: starts Saturday, 11 October, 9pm

Story: Australian political thriller set in the heart of government. Reporter Ned Banks is alerted to a strange accident involving a couple of Aboriginal teenagers. Unwittingly getting his computer genius brother involved, Ned stumbles on a national conspiracy.

SATURDAY NIGHTS on BBC4 have become a vicarious getaway for crime fans in the last few years. Sweden, Denmark, Italy and even Belgium have all been on the itinerary, but this weekend it’s Australia’s turn with a new six-part thriller.

Which is unusual. Oz has not offered a whole lot on the crime front. There’s been Wentworth Prison, a descendant of the prison soap of Prisoner: Cell Block H. Guy Pearce turned up in 2012’s pretty decent Jack Irish drama, which was based on the novels of Peter Temple. And then there was the very average Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries around the same time.

Sophie Walsh (CHELSIE PRESTON CRAYFORD), Randall Keats (ADEN YOUNG) The Code
Stirring trouble – Sophie and Randall

The Code is a change of gear from all of these, and from the Swedish period whodunit Crimes of Passion, which has just ended. It’s a conspiracy thriller with techno and political themes.

Government leak gone wrong

It starts in a traditional way for the genre, with a journalist stumbling onto a huge story by accident. Ned Banks is leaked a dossier by government spin doctors that is designed to destroy a minister’s career.

However, in the envelop containing photos showing him getting into a scuffle after groping a woman is also a reference to ‘Lindara’, where two Aboriginal teens on a joyride have run into serious trouble. Clarence is found by teacher Alex covered in blood, apparently unable to account for what happened to his girlfriend or the car he was driving.

With Alex’s help, Ned – who is assisted by his brother Jesse, a hacker and Asberger’s sufferer – soon uncovers a video that suggests the teenager’s accident had more sinister causes. When his internet newspaper publishes the video, some outside agency causes the whole operation to crash and disappear off the web.

The Code is pacey and looks great

The setting, switching from government HQ in Canberra to remote Lindara, should easily satisfy the

Ned Banks (DAN SPIELMAN) The Code
Poking his nose in – reporter Ned

Saturday night BBC4 crowd’s wanderlust, and the story is a good mesh of political cynicism and Big Brother menace.

Ned’s disobedient pain of a brother is initially annoying, but comes to fill a vital role in the story. The narrative balances several threads with pace, from the Alex’s story in Lindara, to Jesse and Ned’s increasingly desperate attempts to avoid danger, to the political shenanigans.

It’s not in the same league as more haunting dramas, such as Edge of Darkness, but The Code shifts at a sharp pace and the cinematography is superb.

Cast: Dan Spielman Ned Banks, Ashley Zukerman Jesse Banks, Adele Perovic Hani Parande, Adam Garcia Perry Benson, Chelsie Preston Crayford Sophie Walsh, Paul Tassone Andy King,
Dan Wyllie Lyndon Joyce, Lucy Lawless Alex Wisham

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