The Last Panthers, Sky Atlantic, Samantha Morton

Tahar Rahim as Khalil

Panther hunter – Tahar Rahim as Khalil

A gritty, riveting Euro-drama with a blockbuster cast and superb writing, direction and production 

★★★★½ Sky Atlantic, Thursday, 12 November, 9pm

WHILE we Brits prepare for the referendum to decide whether to go it alone outside of the EU, Sky Atlantic has embraced the Continent with this bold and ambitious Euro co-production.

It’s a big, complex tale about the real-life Pink Panthers gang of jewel thieves, the Balkan-based network of ex-servicemen and criminals who carried audacious and spectacular gem raids throughout Europe. At the same time, it offers a glimpse of the pan-European crime scene and the fallout from the breakdowns of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia.

It’s also a far more sophisticated drama than mainstream whodunits of the sort set around Oxford and Midsomer. And finally, with a terrific script and direction, knockout cast and title music from David Bowie, it must be the best series Sky has ever made.

The Pink Panthers hit Marseille

First, the story. Episode one kicks off with a heart-pounding heist in a marble-clad jewellery store in Marseille. This is being carried out by members of the spectacularly successful gang dubbed the Pink Panthers by the media.

The Last Panthers, Sky Atlantic

Samantha Morton as Naomi

However, as Milan Novak (Goran Bogdan) and his team flee the scene, the robbery goes badly wrong and an innocent girl is shot dead. English insurance company loss adjustor Naomi (Samantha Morton) is ordered to Belgrade, where the gang has its base, by her boss Tom (John Hurt) to recover the gems.

While her involvement annoys French detective Khalil (Tahar Rahim), Naomi’s return to the Balkans revives bad memories of her time in the military when she served there on behalf of the UN during the mid-90s conflict.

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Glue, E4, Yasmin Paige, Jordan Stephens, Kierston Wareing PREVIEW

Tina is an aspiring jockey with a wild side in Glue. Pics: E4

Rating: ★★★

E4: starts Monday, 15 September, 10pm

Story: When the body of a local teenage boy is found underneath the wheels of a tractor, the villagers in the remote community of Overton, including his gang of mates, have their lives thrown into disarray.

GLUE IS A crime drama for young adults, going out on Channel 4’s trendy young sibling network E4. It is – as you’d expect – slick, full of cocky young characters, fast, but with some grit thrown in.

Written by Bafta-winner Jack Thorne (This Is England, Skins, The Fades), Glue is set in the remote rural spot of Overton. But this village, while placid and pleasant-looking, is not the pretty backdrop you get in Lewis or Doc Martin.

Rob is Tina’s boyfriend

It is a green and not-so-pleasant land. The youngsters are bored thrill-seekers, and we meet them enjoying a wild night of naked dares and jumping into grain silos.

Twock ‘n’ roll

Twocking a car, crashing, drugs, sex, more sex and boozing are all crammed into the opening
episode, ramming home the point that these guys are seriously on the edge.

If anything, the waywardness is laid on a little thick. Tina, aged 19, loves horses and wants to be the first female jockey in the Derby, but will happily risk her prospects by breaking the law and thrashing a million-pound horse across the turf, to the fury of her boss.

Ruth is a rookie cop who wants to join the murder investigation

James, 18, works on the family farm, but is neglectful of his role there. Meanwhile, Rob, who’s also 18, is so wild and self-seeking that he’s hard to warm to.

Murder shatters the community

Then there’s Ruth, a mix-raced provisional police constable. She and her Romany mum are estranged from the travelling community.

There’s a harsh reality check for this band of mates when Cal Bray, the 14-year-old brother of one of them, Eli, is found dead under a tractor. So much is going on in this village – there’s even a voyeuristic video of Rob having sex in a barn sent anonymously to him – that the murder mystery is intriguing and set to reverberate through the remaining seven episodes of this series.

Eli is grief-stricken and angry over his brother’s murder

Certainly, it has a good-looking cast that should win over its hip target audience. Jordan Stephens (of Rizzle Kicks), Callum Turner, Charlotte Spencer, Yasmin Paige, Faye Marsay, Jessie Cave and Tommy McDonnell (excellent in the recent prison movie Starred Up) are among its actors, backed up by the likes of Kierston Wareing and Kerry Fox.

Once the characters and story settle down, Glue looks rich enough to become a pretty engrossing ride.

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