In Plain Sight, ITV

ITV IN PLAIN SIGHT EPISODE 1 Pictured :DOUGLAS HENSHALL as Muncie and MARTIN COMPSTON as Peter Manuel. This photograph is (C) ITV Plc and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above. Once made available by ITV plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the transmission [TX] date and no reproduction fee will be charged. Any subsequent usage may incur a fee. This photograph must not be manipulated [excluding basic cropping] in a manner which alters the visual appearance of the person photographed deemed detrimental or inappropriate by ITV plc Picture Desk. This photograph must not be syndicated to any other company, publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Plc Picture Desk. Full Terms and conditions are available on the website www.itvpictures.com

Best of enemies: Douglas Henshall as Muncie and Martin Compston as Peter Manuel

Chilling, fact-based portrait of Peter Manuel, infamous Scottish psychopath from the 1950s

★★★★ ITV, Wednesday, 7 December, 9pm

ITV HAS A good record of adapting true-crime events into mini-dramas. The appalling cases of the Moors Murderers, Fred West and the Yorkshire Ripper have all been portrayed, usually with some controversy, but they have been pretty sensitive and serious-minded.

In Plain Sight goes back a little further back into the crime annals to a notorious case from 1950s Scotland. Peter Manuel was a truly nasty criminal. He was a rapist, robber and killer who inflicted a reign of grief on the quiet communities of South Lanarkshire.

This three-parter shows the duel that arose between Manuel and detective William Muncie, who – in spite of opposition from his boss – waged a campaign to put the psychopath behind bars.

Martin Compston and Douglas Henshall

In Plain Sight Pictured :DOUGLAS HENSHALL as Muncie and MARTIN COMPSTON as Peter Manuel. This photograph is (C) ITV Plc and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above. Once made available by ITV plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the transmission [TX] date and no reproduction fee will be charged. Any subsequent usage may incur a fee. This photograph must not be manipulated [excluding basic cropping] in a manner which alters the visual appearance of the person photographed deemed detrimental or inappropriate by ITV plc Picture Desk. This photograph must not be syndicated to any other company, publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Plc Picture Desk. Full Terms and conditions are available on the website www.itvpictures.com

Threatened: family man Muncie

Douglas Henshall (Collision, Shetland) plays the cop with a near obsession. Peter Manuel is played with convincing swagger and odiousness by Martin Compston (Line of Duty).

Released from prison in 1955, Manuel embarked on a two-year killing spree, claiming eight lives in South Lanarkshire. He also made various veiled threats against Muncie, the man who had him put away for sexual assault.

1950s setting is skilfully done

Manuel evaded justice for so long because the local police had never encountered such a spree killer. He was a cold-blooded psycho who committed callous, motiveless crimes.

Henshall brings tight-lipped passion to Muncie, while the brash, controlling Manuel is excellently brought to life by Compston. The 1950s setting is also skilfully done, emphasising the modest lifestyles and how vulnerable the community was to the brute on the loose.

 Pictured :DOUGLAS HENSHALL as Muncie and MARTIN COMPSTON as Peter Manuel. This photograph is (C) ITV Plc and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above. Once made available by ITV plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the transmission [TX] date and no reproduction fee will be charged. Any subsequent usage may incur a fee. This photograph must not be manipulated [excluding basic cropping] in a manner which alters the visual appearance of the person photographed deemed detrimental or inappropriate by ITV plc Picture Desk. This photograph must not be syndicated to any other company, publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Plc Picture Desk. Full Terms and conditions are available on the website www.itvpictures.com

One of the few who stands up to Manuel: his sister Theresa (Bobby Rainsbury)

The drama steers clear of depicting Manuel’s crimes in detail, but still captures what a toxic presence he was. He taunted the authorities, and manipulated his family, the courts and anyone who crossed his path. For a textbook example of a psychopathic personality, it’s hard to beat.

It’s called In Plain Sight because Manuel was a high-visibility killer. He loved the limelight, but being in his audience was not to be recommended.

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…]

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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The Great Train Robbery, BBC1, Luke Evans, Jim Broadbent, Neil Maskell, James Fox PREVIEW

Robbing the mail train. The Great Train Robbery BBC1
Rogue mail – the Great Train Robbery in action. Pics: BBC

Rating: ★★★★

BBC1: Wednesday, 18 December, 8pm

Story: Part one is called ‘A Robber’s Tale’, and follows Bruce Reynolds and his gang as they plan and carry out the £2.6million robbery of a mail train. The second film, ‘A Copper’s Tale’, will be told from the viewpoint of DCS Tommy Butler and his elite squad of investigators.

ALONG WITH the assassination of President Kennedy and the pilot episode of Doctor Who, 1963 was famous for the Great Train Robbery, a startlingly audacious bit of blagging that shook Britain when the news of it came out in August that year.

For channel honchos at the Beeb, the attraction of dramatising it is obvious – it’s based on a true event (ITV are playing the same game with soon-to-be seen Lucan), and it’s got period clobber and old cars, a must every other drama these days.

Bruce Reynolds (LUKE EVANS) Great Train Robbery BBC1
Ambitious Bruce Reynolds (Luke Evans)

For the writer Chris Chibnall, who also wrote this year’s major crime drama Broadchurch, he was fascinated by the crime as ‘piece of modern folklore’ and the attraction of exploring the ‘huge untold story’ of the Flying Squad officers who tracked the robbers – which he does in episode two.

ITV took an interesting take on the crime with Mrs Biggs last year, and Phil Collins played Buster Edwards in the 1988 film Buster, but considering how much newspaper ink the police, the escapes and escapades of this bunch of crooks generated, Chibnall and the BBC would seem to have plenty of untold story to explore.

Luke Evans is charismatic as Bruce Reynolds

And they tell it really well. It is tinged with nostalgia but also captures the element of class aggro

The gang celebrates its haul. The Great Train Robbery BBC1
We’re in the money!

involved, with gang leader Bruce Reynolds – the focus of the first of two 90-minute films – out to get rich while taking on the establishment.

The establishment definitely noticed, as Reynolds and his crew shocked themselves and the whole country with a then monstrous haul of £2.6million from the overnight mail train from Glasgow (equivalent to £41million today). The first film is full of a young generation of actors as the robbers, such as Neil Maskell, Jack Roth and Martin Compston, with Luke Evans outstanding as Reynolds.

Reynolds’ appetite for a big robbery is fuelled following the poor takings from a well-planned and stylishly filmed airport robbery. After getting a tip from a mysterious Ulsterman that the mail train is a sitting duck, with no police or guards protecting it, Reynolds is hooked on devising a heist.

‘It’s Her Majesty’s mail, mate,’ says Buster Edwards (Maskell). ‘Nobody would have the nerve – that’s how they see it.’

E-Types, Jags and beehives

Reynolds pulls together a 15-strong team with near military precision to halt the train and offload it.

DCS Butler (JIM BROADBENT) Great Train Robbery BBC1
In part 2 we meet DCS Butler (Jim Broadbent)

Good heist stories always have plenty of adrenaline and tension, and this one doesn’t fall short. But it also has some laugh-out moments.

Such as the scene in which Gordon Goody and Reynolds, trying to teach themselves how to drive a train – they will have to move the mail train once they’ve captured it – steal a train from a depot and then can’t find the brake. They finally leap from the speeding train into the snow, leaving the runaway engine to plough on into the night.

The period is sharply invoked here, with E-Types Jags and beehives and music from Nina Simone and Sinatra. It looks good and is a fascinating story, right up to the moment the gang in their farmhouse count the huge piles of used banknotes.

Jim Broadbent and Robert Glenister

The irony is that all it bought them was a life on the run (see what happened next to the robbers here: What Happened to the Great Train Robbers). As Reynolds says, ‘It’s too much.’

Great Train Robbery BBC1 The robbers. Gordon Goody (PAUL ANDERSON), Brian Field (DEL SYNOTT), Roy James (MARTIN COMPSTON), Buster Edwards (NEIL MASKELL), John Daly (JAMES BYE), Bruce Reynolds (LUKE EVANS), Charlie Wilson (JACK ROTH), Alf (BILL THOMAS), Roger Cordrey (NICHOLAS MURCHIE), Ronnie Biggs (JACK GORDON), Tommy Wisby (JORDAN LONG)
The gang’s all here – Bruce and his lads

An older generation of actors – with Jim Broadbent as DCS Tommy Butler, leading the likes of Robert Glenister, Tim Piggott Smith and James Fox – will steal the spotlight in the second part of the story, A Copper’s Tale, which should be particularly compelling, if Chris Chibnall is on the money, as it were.

As one of the robbers says, ‘We kicked the establishment up the arse.’ And the pressure to nab them after that was immense.

Cast: Luke Evans Bruce Reynolds, Neil Maskell Buster Edwards, Martin Compston Roy James, Paul Anderson Gordon Goody, Jack Roth Charlie Wilson; Jim Broadbent DCS Tommy Butler, Robert Glenister DI Frank Williams, Nick Moran DS Jack Slipper, Tim Piggott Smith DS Maurice Ray, James Wilby John Wheater, James Fox Henry Brooke

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The Ice Cream Girls, ITV, with Jodhi May and Lorraine Burroughs

The Ice Cream Girls on ITV, with Jodhi May and Lorraine Burroughs
Jodhi May and Lorraine Burroughs in The Ice Cream Girls. Pics: ITV

Rating: ★★★½ 

ITV: starts Friday, 19 April, 9pm

Story: Two vulnerable teenage girls are accused of murdering their schoolteacher in the summer of 1995. For seventeen years, the two girls go their separate ways, Poppy having been charged with the murder, while Serena has married a doctor and started a family. Now in 2013, their paths cross again.

ITV is flush with excellent crime dramas in April. During the week of 13 April it will be showing Scott & Bailey, Broadchurch will be nearing its finale and Endeavour and The Ice Cream Girls will be launching.

The latter is a three-part drama derived from a bestseller by Dorothy Koomson. The Ice Cream Girls is how the press dubbed the two teenage girls who were the only witnesses to a murder, Serena and Poppy having briefly been friends during the summer of 1995.

Holli Dempsey as Young Poppy, Georgina Campbell as Young Serena in The Ice Cream Girls on ITV
Old mates – young Poppy and Serena

Seventeen years later, Serena is still disturbed by a love affair she had then with her teacher, Marcus Hansley, a passion that ended in murder. Serena fled the seaside town of her youth and moved to Leeds, where she married a doctor and had a daughter.

Poppy and Serena are back in town 
As the drama begins, Serena moves back home with her family to help her sister cope with her ailing mother. She is on edge, haunted by the past.

It just so happens that Poppy is finishing her sentence for murder and is about to return home too. She is also plagued by what occurred all those years before, and wants to confront Serena and the tragic events that bound them together. Everyone thinks Poppy murdered the teacher, but did she? That’s the question hanging over their lives.

It’s a riveting opening to the drama, with equally fine performances from Lorraine Burroughs as a jittery Serena and Jodhi May as the young woman with a prison pallor who gradually starts to assert herself once she gets used to being on the outside again.

Martin Compston as Marcus in The Ice Cream Girls on ITV
Teacher with secrets – Marcus

Martin Compston as the teacher with a dark side
Serena is so on edge she races away from a cop who stops her for speeding. She has never told her husband about her involvement in the trial. Meanwhile, Poppy has to deal with moving back with her mother and hostile stepfather.

Martin Compston is creepy as the victim and teacher with a dark side revealed in flashbacks. Poppy closes in on Serena, visiting her unknowing husband at his surgery, and there are twists to come in episode two before the women come face to face.

It’s a skilfully made and atmospheric thriller about believable characters trapped by a vulnerable moment in their young lives. Full of surprises, it rounds off a terrific week for ITV drama.

Cast: Jodhi May Poppy, Lorraine Burroughs Serena, Holli Dempsey Young Poppy, Georgina Campbell Young Serena, Martin Compston Marcus, Bryan Dick Al, Dona Croll Rachel, Nicholas Pinnock Evan, Dominique Jackson Vee,  Sara Powell Fez, Eleanor Methven Liz, Owen Roe Jim, Kathy Kiera Clarke Marlene, Michael Mcelhatton Brian, Patricia Martin Poppy’s Gran, Gail Brady GP Receptionist, Dylan Tighe Poppy’s Lawyer, Laura Jane Laughlin Serena’s Lawyer, Caitríona Ní Mhurchú Sgt Reynolds         

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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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