The Level, ITV, Karla Crome

KARLA crome (Nancy Devlin) and LAURA HADDOCK (Hayley) For further information contact Patrick Smith patrick.smith@itv.com 0207 157 3044 ©ITV This photograph is the ©ITV and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above, or ITV plc. 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 For further information please contact: PATRICK SMITH

Peer pressure: Karla Crome (Nancy Devlin) and Laura Haddock (Hayley)

A rising female detective with an emotional attachment to a gangster is pitched into a world of danger

★★★ ITV, Friday, 30 September, 9pm

THE SCRIPT for this new ITV thriller was several years in gestation. It was time well spent because writers Gaby Chiappe and Alexander Perrin have come up with a taut gripper that has emotional punch.

HILLBILLY TV FOR ITV THE LEVEL on Picture shows: KARLA CROME (Nancy Devlin), ROBERT JAMES-COLLIER (Kevin O'Dowd), LINDSEY COULSON (Michelle Newman) and NOEL CLARK (Gunner Martin) For further information contact Patrick Smith patrick.smith@itv.com 0207 157 3044 ©ITV This photograph is the ©ITV and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above, or ITV plc. 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 For further information please contact: PATRICK SMITH

Karla Crome, Robert James-Collier, Lindsey Coulson and Noel Clarke

Karla Crome plays Nancy Devlin, a detective with a difference. She is inextricably linked to gangster Frank Le Saux – an affecting turn from Philip Glenister. Le Saux was a father figure to Nancy during her turbulent childhood. Meanwhile, his daughter, Hayley (Laura Haddock), became her best friend.

This compromising relationship has survived her rise to distinction as a detective sergeant. When we first meet Nancy she is being paraded before colleagues after saving her boss, Kevin O’Dowd (Downton‘s Robert James-Collier), from a lethal attack.

Nancy’s tracked by a killer

However, Nancy is also in the habit of giving Frank a wink if he ever comes under investigation.

When Frank then contacts her because he is in trouble, Nancy’s career is suddenly under threat, to say nothing of her life. As she struggles to avoid being implicated in a murder investigation, she is also being tracked by a killer.

HILLBILLY TV FOR ITV THE LEVEL on Picture shows: LAURA HADDOCK as Hayley For further information contact Patrick Smith patrick.smith@itv.com 0207 157 3044 ©ITV This photograph is the ©ITV and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above, or ITV plc. 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 For further information please contact: PATRICK SMITH

Laura Haddock as Hayley

The Level, which refers to an area of Brighton – where the six-part series is set – and the idea of being on the level, is a very effective thriller. It is fast and tense without implausibly stretching the story.

We’ve seen Karla Crome in series such as the excellent Prisoners’ Wives and Misfit. She has no trouble holding the limelight here. Laura Haddock, usually seen in big-budget nonsense like Da Vinci’s Demons, is spot on as the ballsy badgirl who was once close to Nancy. [Read more…]

State of Play — Killer TV No 18

B0007ZD6YK.02._SS400_SCLZZZZZZZ_V1118152570_BBC1, 2003

‘One of my officers was murdered. Don’t piss me about.’ DCI William Bell

David Morrissey, John Simm, Kelly Macdonald, Polly Walker, Bill Nighy, Philip Glenister, James McAvoy, Marc Warren

Identikit: When Sonia, a political aide, is killed on the London Tube, a newspaper starts an investigation that will lead to a conspiracy of political corruption and oil industry influence in the government.


logosWhat begins as two apparently unconnected deaths – one that appears drug-related, one of the young researcher of an MP, who falls under a Tube train – spirals into evidence of a conspiracy. As reporters played by Kelly Macdonald and John Simm investigate, they discover that not only was Stephen Collins, MP, the chairman of the energy Select Committee, having an affair with Sonia, his researcher, but that she had received a call from a murdered youth, who was gunned down in the street. Kelvin Stagg had stolen a briefcase and was attempting to sell it back to its owner when he and a passing courier were shot by a hit man. The murder of a detective watching over the recuperating courier rounds off the opening episode of one of the most pacy, exciting thrillers ever to be made for UK television. It was also ahead of its time in depicting the blagging used by our reporter heroes to harvest personal information from hospitals and phone records (years before Hackgate exposed the dirty, non-investigative side of it). David Morrissey is terrific as the unfaithful politician husband in turmoil, whose lover may have had more baggage than he ever imagined. Bill Nighy counterbalances Morrissey’s emotional performance with a razor-sharp turn as the cynical newspaper editor – ‘Either he [Collins] is faking it or he’s nobbing her.’ And he has many of the best lines – ‘Don’t kiss your own arse till you get us a name.’ And a pre-Life on Mars Philip Glenister plays a seriously intimidating detective chief inspector, showing just how powerful he can be in a straight role. His scenes with Nighy’s slippery editor are riveting. Oil industry obfuscation and corruption, human drama, wit, chases and intrigue – thrillingly directed by David Yates, who made several of the Harry Potter films – all go into making this a high point in UK crime drama. Written by one of the UK’s best writers, Paul Abbott (Shameless, Hit & Miss), the six-part thriller had superb dialogue, was politically caustic, and had a superlative British cast, one of the best ever assembled, many of whom have gone on to major successes in the US – Morrissey and Simm being particularly fine.

Sequel: the 2009 movie with Russell Crowe was decent but couldn’t resist Hollywood’s obsession with convoluted twist endings.

Classic episode: Each episode of this six-parter is engrossing, but the final episode ties the drama together brilliantly, with one final, oh-bloody-hell twitst.

Watercooler fact: The BBC wanted a sequel series, but apparently Paul Abbott, after working on a script, couldn’t make the story work. Which may be just as well – sequels rarely match an inspired original.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/drama/stateofplay/

Prey 2, ITV, Philip Glenister

RED PRODUCTIONS FOR ITV PREY SERIES 2 EPISODE 1 Pictured : PHILIP GLENISTER as Murdoch and MYANNA BURING as Jules Hope

Backs against the wall: Philip Glenister and MyAnna Buring

An adrenalin-fuelled chase story with thrills, cliffhangers and good characters

★★★★ ITV, Wednesday, 9 December, 9pm

PREY IS ON THE run again – this time with a new cast and storyline. If you suffer from palpitations, it’s probably best to give it a miss.

We’re immediately pitched into a mad night-time dash through the countryside, with Philip Glenister handcuffed to MyAnna Burning pursued by police and slavering dogs.

It’s a modern take on Alfred Hitchcock’s chase thrillers such as The 39 Steps and North by Northwest. The difference here being that there is no hint of romance between Glenister’s prison officer David Murdoch and Buring’s prisoner, Jules Hope.

It is while Murdoch is escorting Hope to the hospital that he discovers her brother has kidnapped his pregnant daughter, Lucy (Sammy Winward), and is holding her hostage until Murdoch can deliver Jules to him.

RED PRODUCTIONS FOR ITV PREY SERIES 2 EPISODE 1 Pictured :ROSIE CAVALIERO as DS Susan Reinhardt.


In the dark: DS Susan Reinhardt (Rosie Cavaliero)

Hot on their heels is DS Susan Reinhardt, who is under pressure in her personal and professional lives, and played beautifully by Rosie Cavaliero. Reinhardt was in the first series of Prey, which also starred John Simm. This time she has a new boss – DCI Mike Ward (Ralph Ineson) – to contend with while also finding herself torn between a marriage proposal and career move.

Philip Glenister as Murdoch

And this is what makes Prey 2 such an effective thriller. While writer and creator Chris Lunt rarely lets the pace drop, he also doesn’t neglect to develop the characters so that we actually care about their plights.

Murdoch is a widower, an average bloke who is rehearsing for an amateur musical production in his spare time. When Lucy is snatched he is thrust into a nightmare and faces the painful dilemma of whether to tell the police or go on the run.

This three-parter is packed with good performances and finishes on a real cliffhanger. Viewers who get that far will probably find it impossible not to hunt down the second instalment.

Prey series 2 trailer, with Philip Glenister

Life on Mars — Killer TV No.36

BBC, 2006-2007
‘A word in your shell-like… Don’t ever waltz into my kingdom playing king of the jungle.’
– DCI Gene Hunt
‘Who the hell are you?’ – DI Sam Tyler
‘Gene Hunt, your DCI, and it’s 1973, almost dinner time, and I’m having hoops.’ – DCI Gene Hunt
John Simm, Philip Glenister, Liz White, Dean Andrews
Identikit: A detective has an accident and is plunged 33 years back in time to an era when policing was more ‘robust’.
HIGH-CONCEPT crime drama – time-travel being the concept – that won a following through its freshness and cheekyness, principally in the character of Gene Hunt, the 1970s cop with unenlightened views on everything from women to coppering. Played with gusto by Philip Glenister, this throwback to 70s shows such as The Sweeney was the show’s star, making a straight man out of John Simm’s Sam Tyler, the contemporary cop pitched back in time. Sam, circa 2006, is distracted when his girlfriend, also a detective with Greater Manchester Police, is abducted by a killer. While David Bowie’s Life on Mars plays on his iPod, he is hit by a car – and wakes up in flares and butterfly collars on his shirt, with Life on Mars again playing, this time on an 8-track tape in his new car, a 1970s Rover P6. ‘I need my mobile,’ he tells the PC who finds him. ‘Mobile what?’ Plod responds. And so Sam finds himself part of Gene Hunt’s team, investigating a killer who may be related to the killer who has abducted his girlfriend in 2006. The first series is great fun, with Sam struggling with voices coming from his telly, apparently from a doctor treating him while he is in a coma in 2006, dealing with Hunt’s instinctual approach to crime solving – ‘Anything you say will be taken down, ripped up and shoved down your scrawny little throat until you’ve choked to death’ – and trying to find his way back to the present day. The culture clash between Sam, used to do everything according to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, and bullying, bigoted, boozing Gene was beautifully written and played. The series – created by Tony Jordan, Matthew Graham and Ashley Pharaoh – juggled its crime plots and Sam’s story well, but is best-remembered for the chance it offered to chortle at the good old/bad old days when women were ‘birds’, offices were thick with fag smoke and fingerprints took two weeks to process. Forgotten how we used to booze heavily at work? Gene reminded us – ‘I’ve got to get down the pub and give the papers a statement, and if I don’t get a move on, they’ll all be half cut.’ Two series of Life on Mars were followed by three further series of 80s-set Ashes to Ashes, with the focus on Keeley Hawes’s Alex Drake, but the retro-novelty and humour deflated during this run. Still, inspired mergings of the crime and sci-fi genres are rare, particularly ones with characters as memorable as Gene Hunt – ‘What I call a dream involves Diana Doors and a bottle of chip oil.’ It won an International Emmy for best drama in 2006 and 2008.
Classic episode: The finale of the first series was emotional and clever, with Sam coming across his parents in 1973 and trying to prevent his father, Vic, from running away, which he thinks will enable him to emerge from his coma. Gene reveals that Vic is a ruthless gangster, and Sam’s flashbacks through the series are revealed to be memories of his younger self that he only now remembers.

Watercooler fact: Life on Mars was remade in America, lasting one season; in Spain, where it was called The Girl from Yesterday; and Russia, which gave it the title The Dark Side of the Moon.

More of the Killer 50

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Mad Dogs 3, Sky1, with John Simm, Philip Glenister, Marc Warren, Max Beesley

Mad Dogs III - Episode 1 .Selected Stills - Exterior Airfield South Africa; Rick (MARK WARREN) doesn't think he can do it alone! Sky1
Don’t look now – Rick (Marc Warren) faces a threatening future alone. Pics: BSkyB

Rating: ★★★

Sky1: starts Tuesday, 4 June, 9pm

Story: After the law finally caught up with them at the end of the last series, Woody, Quinn, Baxter and Rick are now being interrogated in a dilapidated prison in the Moroccan desert.

THOSE MAD DOGS who managed to turn a fun reunion in Spain into the holiday from hell involving stolen drug money and murder are now hitting their third series.
The law of diminishing returns dictates that this should be poorer than those preceding it. But while it is not as engaging or funny as the first series, it does pack surprises and have the guts to take the story on a new trajectory. 

Jaime Winstone as Mercedes

Woody (Max Beesley), Quinn (Philip Glenister), Baxter (John Simm) and Rick (Marc Warren) find

Mad Dogs III - EPISODE 1..Woody (Max Beesley). SKY ONE
Caged – Woody (Max Beesley)

themselves in a rundown interrogation centre in the Moroccan desert as episode one starts. The treatment they get is rough, they look rough and there’s a tough young female prisoner there giving them a hard time.

This is Jaime Winstone playing Mercedes, and she seems to be following in dad Ray’s footsteps by being the hardest character on display. Mercedes is a soldier who strayed but shows her combat readiness by throwing Quinn to the ground.

She’s also a lot more clued-up than the clueless foursome. When Quinn whinges about their rights being infringed by their incarceration, Mercedes tells them, ‘This place doesn’t exist.’

Mad Dogs is again intriguing, surreal and pretty silly 

Sky1 Mad Dogs III - Episode 1 Exterior Airfield South Africa - The boys step out of the aircraft when its landed. Woody (MAX BEESLEY), Quinn (PHILIP GLENISTER), Baxter (JIOHN SIMM) and Rick (MARK WARREN)
Flying by the seat of their pants – Baxter, Woody, Rick and Quinn

They are, of course, in this pickle after being duped by Mackenzie (David Warner) at the end of series two. Instead of arriving in Barcelona with the three-million euros, the ship container they were travelling in turned up in Morocco, where they were greeted by armed men who took the money.

Writer Cris Cole instils the new series with intrigue and surreal touches again, including a scary little African figure haunting proceedings this time. It’s a disorientating touch, similar to ‘Tiny’ Blair’s appearance in series one.

That was a triumph for Sky1 in 2011, getting nominated for a Bafta and winning terrific ratings for a non-terrestrial channel (episode one got 1.6 million viewers). The plot was slow in places but the theme of old mates meeting up in disappointed middle age – and played with relish by the four actors – gave the drama emotional impact while the lads got sucked into Alvo’s criminal enterprise.

The lads are now on the run from the CIA

This new series has lost much of that as the foursome’s characters are subsumed in a hectic story. Where ‘Tiny’ Blair was bizarre, funny and sinister, here the scary masked figure is part of a more

Mad Dogs III - EPISODE 1..Rick (Marc Warren) interrogated SKY ONE
Wired – Rick under interrogation

confusing set-up.

Anton Lesser eventually turns up as Alex, who appears to be from the British government and tells the guys they are on a CIA hit list (don’t ask). From there the drama spins off into another country and another cliffhanger.

Mad Dogs is now a story charging along so fast it’s hard to get a grip on who’s who and what’s happening. The final moments of this opener do, however, set up some interesting possibilities for the remaining three episodes, so perhaps the dogs will stop chasing their tails and the series can recapture its earlier charm and character focus.

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Mad Dogs series 2 PREVIEW

All at sea – Max Beesley, John Simm, Marc Warren and Philip Glenister. Pics: BSKYB

Rating: ★★★★

Sky1, from Thursday, 19 January, 9pm

Story: Woody, Baxter and Rick are about to drive off and leave their mate Quinn in the Majorca villa to continue his life there. Then they spot the partner in crime of Spanish cop Maria arriving, and Baxter applies the brakes to their car…

It’s lovely to see the ‘four herberts’ back on their holiday from hell. Woody, Baxter, Rick and Quinn should  know better than to indulge in extreme sports at their age, particularly those involving murder and the theft of £3million in stolen drug money, but happily they’re taking to it again like leaping lemmings.

Mad Dogs 2 picks up exactly where the first stopped – with Woody, Rick and Baxter in their car about to flee from the villa of Alvo, the dodgy old ‘mate’ they’d been visiting who came to a bloody end. Maria, the bent Spanish cop, is still floating in the pool and Quinn is there with her, having shot her.

When the three in the car see Maria’s corrupt partner Dominic turning up, they stop, unsure whether to leave Quinn to it or help him. Needless to say, they get dragged back into the madness.

Always looking over their shoulder – Baxter and Rick

Starting over with stolen drug money
Once again it’s a pleasure to watch John Simm, Marc Warren, Philip Glenister and Max Beesley at each other’s throats. The series was originally made because they wanted a project they could all work together on, and it’s easy to see why.

Mad Dogs has fun playing these actors against type. John Simm often portrays miserable, angry types, but here he is meeker and vulnerable. His character even comforts Quinn when he is in shock after shooting the policewoman. Marc Warren is clueless and uncool, and Max Beesley gets the chance to act.

There’s an element of the Coen brothers here as the four ordinary Joes are way out of their depth, rushing off to Ibiza with the £3million in drug cash they were going to leave behind, but which Woody has slipped into the boot of their getaway car.

Out-smarting the gangsters?
And like the best Coen brothers films, events unfold with dimwitted, greedy simplicity as the guys, who include a teacher and would-be antiques dealer among their number, try to play in the gangster league. The trouble is, they’re about as like mad dogs as Scrappy Doo.

‘Maybe something good will come out of this,’ says John Simm’s Woody – and you know he’s totally kidding himself.

But then Quinn chimes in – ‘How many men of our age get to start all over again?’

Bit of a wheeze – the boys meet their mystery contact

An underworld contact called Wheezy
One aspect of series one that is missed is Alvo (Ben Chaplin), the former chum who flaunted his ill-gotten luxury in front of the sad sacks and rubbed in their broken marriages and dull careers. Instead, the guys lacerate each other in his absence.

So there’s a nice scene on the ferry to Ibiza when Rick blows his top after one of the guys refers to him as an accountant. ‘How many times do I have to tell you,’ he yells in a crowded bar. ‘I’m a financial adviser.’

There’s a lot of humour in this opener, before events take an explosive turn. Sunny, sinister and surreal – a mystery contact turns out to be an oxygen-tank carrying old lady called Wheezy – it’s the holiday of a lifetime. Fortunately, not our lifetime.

Cast: John Simm Baxter, Marc Warren Rick, Philip Glenister Quinn, Max Beesley Woody,  Leticia Dolera Carmen, Tim Woodward Dominic, Elton Prince Ferryman, Lola Cordon Wheezy, Tina Sainz Dalila, Vicente Diez Hector, Luifer Rodriguez Angelo

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Hidden with Philip Glenister PREVIEW

Thekla Reuten, Philip Glenister and David Suchet. Pics: BBC/Origin

Rating ★★★

BBC1 from Thursday, 6 October, 9pm 

It must be a sign of scandal-plagued times that TV is getting paranoid. Hidden is the third in a recent sequence of absorbing conspiracy thrillers following Exile and The Shadow Line, and is at least as good as its predecessors.

It’s a murky piece of noir with dark streets, a femme fatale and a dodgy hero, played very believably by a brooding Philip Glenister. He is Harry Venn, small-time solicitor suddenly confronted by ghosts from his past.

He gets a visit from a mysterious lawyer, Gina Hawkes (Thekla Reuten), who is representing an old mate of Harry’s, Steve Quirke. Steve wants Harry to find another old chum – and criminal – by the name of Joe Collins.

Harry Venn – out of his depth?

Scandal for the Prime Minister, riots on the streets
Trouble is, most of these of former mates of Harry’s were involved in his own criminal past, for Harry is a solicitor with a lot of baggage. When he visits Steve in the nick events turn surreal, with Steve telling Harry he’s recently Hillman. Harry is angry to hear this because Hillman’s body was identified in a morgue many years before.

The action intercuts with a robbery from their younger days that went disastrously wrong, with Hillman and Harry’s brother both ending up dead, along with two policemen getting shot. Harry was the getaway driver.

While Harry’s head is spinning with his commission from the elusive Gina – who’s promised him £20,000 to find Collins – in the background are political scandals revolving around the Prime Minister, Brian Worsley, and riots on Britain’s streets.

It’s a terrific story from Ronan Bennett, who also wrote the Johnny Depp biopic about John Dillinger, Public Enemies. Night-time London is startlingly filmed, and Glenister moves up a gear from his recent indelible roles in Mad Dogs and Ashes to Ashes.

Drug taking, bribes and burglary
Harry Venn is a far more gritty performance. He’s man on the edge who sleeps with his ex-wife, is insulted by his son, takes cocaine, smokes dope and is willing to bribe and burgle his way to finding out who Gina Hawkes is really working for.

Gina meets Harry in a London hotel

But he is also a sharp operator. Asking a hotel employee how much he wants to allow Harry to snoop round Gina’s hotel room, he is told £500. ‘Let’s split the difference and call it 30 quid,’ Harry replies.

There is a nicely menacing scene between Harry and Gina’s doctor, and events finally turn very disturbing for the solicitor.

It’s a four-parter, with David Suchet joining the story after the opening episode as Sir Nigel Fountain. While it is always tricky to judge a series after one episode, Hidden was so good it already looks like one of the best crime dramas of the year.

Cast: Philip Glenister Harry Venn, Thekla Reuten Gina Hawkes, David Suchet Sir Nigel Fountain, Anna Chancellor Elspeth Verney, Mark Powley Mark Venn, Mark Flitton Paul Hillman, Thomas Craig Fenton Russell, Richard Durden Dr Sturgess, Richard Dormer Frank Hanna, Peter Guinness Jason Styles, Paul Ritter Steve Quirke, Lisa Kay Lauren

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