By Any Means BBC1, with Warren Brown, Gina McKee, Shelley Conn PREVIEW

Thomas Tomkins (ANDREW-LEE POTTS), Jack Quinn (WARREN BROWN), Jessica Jones (SHELLEY CONN)
Andrew-Lee Potts, Warren Brown and Shelley Conn in By Any Means. Pics: BBC

Rating: ★★★½

BBC1: starts Sunday, 22 September, 9pm

Story: A clandestine team of cops, led by Jack Quinn, is brought on board by their mysterious handler Helen Barlow when infamously crooked businessman Nicholas Mason is acquitted of robbery and the murder of an innocent man, due to lack of evidence.

THE PREMISE sounds terrific – undercover cops sorting out elusive, elite criminals by any means. It’s also got Warren Brown, and he too was terrific in the recent hard-hitting BBC series Good Cop.

But hard-hitting By Any Means certainly is not. It’s a fun drama, a bit larky, very much like Hustle but with ‘maverick’ cops instead of conmen targeting evil-doers.

That’s not to say By Any Means is no good. It’s fine, in the same mould as Jonathan Creek, New Tricks or Murder on the Home Front. It’s just unlikely to be the standout show on Warren Brown’s CV.

Warren Brown plays Jack Quinn

What it has got is snappy storytelling, a funky soundtrack and some laugh-out loud dialogue.

Nicholas Mason (KEITH ALLEN) in BBC1's By Any Means
You won’t like him when he’s angry – Keith Allen

Brown plays Jack Quinn, who heads a secret team that is directed by cloak-and-dagger handler Helen Barlow (Gina McKee) to take out criminals who have evaded justice.

‘I want him off the streets – by any means,’ she tells Quinn of his latest mark, that portrayer of pantomime baddies Keith Allen, known here as Nick Mason, who is so bad he’s funny.

Quinn is assisted by other mavericks in the shape of Shelley Conn as Jessica ‘Sassy’ Jones and Andrew-Lee Potts as Thomas ‘techie’ Tomkins, who look less like hardened cops experienced in burglary and undercover work than, well, pleasant young actors.

‘It’s a grey area’

Stan Bond (JOHN HENSHAW) in BBC1's By Any Means
Big shot – Jon Henshaw is Stan

Mason has been acquitted of robbery and the murder of an innocent father, and that is why he is in the sights of Quinn’s team of cops-but-not-cops – as Quinn himself says several times of their status, ‘It’s a grey area’, which will surely be the show’s catchphrase.

There’s a lot of tech ju-ju thrown at the audience – CCTV mainframes, hacking, a ‘burglar-alarm app’ – during which Quinn’s squad executes its Hustle-style scam on Nick, which involves conning him into thinking his dollybird is having an affair so he will hot-headedly make a mistake.

By Any Means has some nice gags in it, it moves along at a stonking pace, and it’s a fairly inoffensive way to while away an hour. But you do wonder what Warren Brown will do next…

Cast: Warren Brown Jack Quinn, Gina McKee Helen Barlow, Shelley Conn Jessica Jones, Keith Allen Nicholas Mason, Elliot Knight Charlie O’Brien, Jon Henshaw Stan Bond, Jessica Ellerby Karen Mason, Richard Lumsden Raymond Nash, Ben Cartwright Chris Henney, James Norton Michael Prence, Andrew-Lee Potts Thomas Tomkins, Martin Jarvis Paul Hollander

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Luther series 3, BBC1, with Idris Elba, Warren Brown, Sienna Guillory PREVIEW

Idris Elba as John Luther in the third series of BBC1's Luther
He’s a smasher – Idris Elba as DCI John Luther. Pics: BBC

Rating: ★★★½

BBC1: starts Tuesday, 2 July, 9pm 

Story: Luther is loaded up with two big murder cases – one for a fetishist who is killing women, and the other involving the death of a malicious internet tormentor – while inside the police force itself, an operation is underway to nail the detective for past transgressions.

THE GOTHIC COP is back. John Luther, gloomy, dealing with grotesque cases that often have supernatural echoes, is giving it large once again – dangling suspects over balconies, having punch-ups with other detectives and messing with the minds of the deranged.

Idris Elba in BBC1's Luther, series 3
Out on his own – Luther is targeted

In what could the series’ last outing before creator Neil Cross transfers the character to the big screen,
Luther has a lot on his plate. He’s after a creepy fetishistic killer of women who seems to be emulating 1980s murderer the Shoreditch Creeper, a case that was never solved.

This being Luther, the killer has to have a wacky MO, so the Creeper would pleasure himself while sucking his victims’ toes. The contemporary copycat seems to be dressing up his victims like someone from his past.

DSU George Stark is gunning for Luther

DSU George Stark (DAVID O'HARA) in BBC1's Luther
Stark choice – David O’Hara as Luther’s enemy

The stories are always totally unbelievable in Luther, but what sells it are Idris Elba as the force-of-nature, intuitive cop – once again, he literally towers over everyone here – along with the show’s chilling atmosphere. In this brooding opener, the gore takes second place to some stomach-tightening set-piece moments.

What lifts this third series above the others, however, are two new plot developments. The first is the arrival of David O’Hara as DSU George Stark. The Scottish actor has a presence and raw menace to make him a formidable foe for our anti-hero, and his character is out to see Luther go down for killings he is suspected of carrying out during past investigations.

O’Hara, along with DCI Erin Gray (Nikki Amuka-Bird), intimidates Luther’s deputy and best friend, Ripley, into spying on John. Once again, implausibility reigns and Ripley seems to speedily fall in line.

Love is in the air with the arrival of Sienna Guillory

DCI John Luther (IDRIS ELBA), Mary Day (SIENNA GUILLORY) in BBC1's Luther
Luther dates Mary in a, er, fast food cafe

The plan involves loading another murder case onto Luther – that of a malicious internet tormentor.

Again, the plot is stretched beyond plausibility as Stark and Gray know who the murderer is, but for some reason think Luther will let him go, and then they can arrest the detective.

Yet the drama is still nicely poised for an almighty showdown between Luther and Stark. As Stark says, ‘He doesn’t know it, but his good fortune ran out the day I heard his name.’

The other juicy storyline is another new character that Luther runs into, literally, in his car. This is Mary Day, played by Sienna Guillory. Love is in the air immediately, and the detective, whose wife Zoe was murdered in the first series, seems about to relieve some of his gloomy work obsessiveness with a bit of romance.

Watch out for Alice…

Alice Morgan (RUTH WILSON) in BBC1's Luther
Lurking – Alice Morgan

But with Stark after him, and the impending return of the show’s favourite pantomime genius psychopath, Alice Morgan (Ruth Wilson), the woman with whom Luther has a – wouldn’t you know it – reality-defying bond, the course of true love is unlikely to run smoothly.

Luther is a frustrating series. It gets so much right – terrific performers, intriguing conflicts and it’s dripping with atmosphere.

But it’s not just the series’ killers who are off their rockers. The whole drama could do with an occasional reality check.

Cast: Idris Elba DCI John Luther, Warren Brown DS Justin Ripley, Sienna Guillory Mary Day, David O’Hara DSU George Stark, Nikki Amuka-Bird DCI Erin Gray, Dermot Crowley DSU Martin Schenk, Michael Smiley Benny Deadhead

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Scott & Bailey latest, new BBC series By Any Means, Mr Whicher

ITV's Scott & Bailey: Suranne Jones as Rachel Bailey and Nicola Walker as Helen
Suranne Jones as Rachel Bailey and Nicola Walker as Helen

Scott & Bailey returns to the house of horrors that featured in episode one during this Wednesday’s story (1 May, ITV, 9pm). We’ll see Nicola Walker coming back as Helen Bartlett, the woman traumatised by the abuse she suffered three decades ago at the hands of her creepy parents. However, it seems that life with her dad, the psychopath Joe (George Costigan, who was pretty disturbing in the role), were far more macabre than we realised. Joe appeared to be a bed-bound, frail old guy in the series opener, but then it turned out, of course, that he had murdered his wife and abused his children. Now it appears there are further horrific discoveries at the house – and Helen may know more about what occurred there. It’s one of the darkest stories ever featured on the hit series. Nicola Walker says of Helen, ‘She has created a character to be at work and that has been successful. But then when someone brings Peveril Street back into her consciousness again, it’s like she goes straight back there. I think she has some form of post-traumatic stress disorder. I’ve never played a character who is so full of shame. It’s an interesting thing to play because it’s an absolutely internal emotion. She’s full of apology. At times she barely raises her eyes to look someone in the eye.’ Watch the Scott & Bailey trailer

• The Beeb has started filming By Any Means in Birmingham, a new cop from a team of writers led by Tony Jordan, whose credits include Hustle and Life on Mars. This is about a clandestine police team who attempt to play the criminals at their own game, and tread a fine line with the law. It stars Warren Brown (Luther, Good Cop), Shelley Conn (Mistresses, Marchlands) and Andrew Lee Potts (Primeval, Ideal) and Gina McKee (The Borgias, In The Loop).

ITV drama: Paddy Considine and Olivia Colman in The Suspicion's of Mr Whicher II
Paddy Considine and Olivia Colman in The Suspicion’s of Mr Whicher II

 • Look out for ITV’s forthcoming The Suspicions of Mr Whicher II, again starring Paddy Considine as the pioneering Victorian detective. The sequel goes beyond Kate Summerscale’s engrossing non-fiction book this time, featuring Olivia Colman – fresh from the brilliant success of Broadchurch – as Susan Spencer, who employs Whicher as a private inquiry agent to investigate the murder of her neice, 16-year-old Mary. Paddy says, ‘When we left Whicher at the end of the first drama he’d failed to prove his case that the little boy had been murdered by his 16-year-old sister, Constance. She’d been acquitted and having failed to secure a conviction he was booted out of the force and basically had a nervous breakdown. Now, when we pick up his story again he’s supposedly putting the case and his life in the force behind him. He’s taken up walking and gardening instead. But the audience knows before he does that as much as he tries to give the life up, it won’t give him up because, basically he’s a detective to his bones. He has no chance when a woman in search of her lost niece appeals to him for help. He just can’t help but get involved.’

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Good Cop, BBC1, starring Warren Brown PREVIEW

Warren Brown as PC Rocksavage. Pic: BBC

Rating: ★★★★½

BBC1: starts Thursday, 30 August, 9pm

Story: PC Rocksavage sees his patrol partner suffering a sadistic attack, which sends his already complicated life into turmoil when he takes matters into his own hands.

Warren Brown steps up from being Idris Elba’s sidekick in Luther to leading player in this complex, powerful new cop drama.

This is one of the best opening episodes to a crime show I’ve seen this year, Line of Duty included. It’s morally fraught, violent and has a captivating hero on the edge.

Brown is a Liverpool response cop, the ones who race around in cars. PC John Paul Rocksavage (Sav) is a decent guy who looks after his ailing father (Michael Angelis) and is obviously crushed by his estrangement from Cassandra and their daughter, Libby, whom we see bumping into Sav on Crosby beach as the story begins.

Stephen Graham is the nasty, brutal Finch
Later, he is having lunch with his mate and colleague Andy Stockwell (Tom Hopper), when he sees a man called Finch, who’s there with a gang of men, terrorising a waitress. Sav orders him out of the restaurant, but Finch promises that the next lone copper he sees will get a beating.

Finch is played by Stephen Graham, who when he’s not portraying sociopaths such as Al Capone in Boardwalk Empire is giving us a convincing skinhead in This Is England 86, and he is a scarily confrontational psycho.

The next isolated copper he meets is Sav’s partner Andy, and Sav sees his horrendous beating when he is locked out of party in what looks like a squat that they have been called to subdue that night.

Warren Brown is excellent as the cop on the edge
Shattered by that moment, Sav is soon engaged in a face-off in which he makes a snap decision that twists his life and career into dangerous, illegal territory.

It’s a blinding opener and Warren Brown is totally believable as a decent bloke who does a brave job in confronting criminals, but ends up on the wrong side of the law.

The mood is noirish, with dark rainy nights and a flawed hero struggling against trouble. Mark Womack plays the formidable investigating DCI, who is clearly going to give Sav a hard time.

Writer Stephen Butchard
Good Cop is written by Stephen Butchard, whose credits include Stolen, House of Saddam and 2010’s superb and moving Five Daughters, a sympathetic protrayal of the young women murdered in Ipswich in 2006.

He explains the drama’s genesis: ‘I started with the premise of thinking about a police show, and then I thought of a beat cop. Looking at the existing police shows, they seemed to be dominated by procedural or science elements, and I was interested in a more human aspect to policing, the very sharp end and the first man on the scene.

‘From a dramatic element I wanted to go back to the simplest thing and that was the man, the human being in the uniform, knocking on the door and not knowing what was behind that door or what was coming.’

It’s a realistic, truthful four-parter that’s free of tedious forensics and lurid plot twists. It’s also more than a match for Luther.

Cast: Warren Brown PC John Paul Rocksavage, Michael Angelis Robert Rocksavage, Aisling Loftus Cassandra, Tom Hopper Andy Stockwell, Stephen Graham Noel Finch, Stephen Walters Callum Rose, Joe Macaulay Jonjo Heinz, Jodie Comer Amy, Johann Myers Gary Walton, Carl Rice Philip Davenport, Kerrie Hayes WPC Amanda Morgan, Kevin Harvey Sergeant Middleton, Robbie Jarvis DCI Stoddart, Christine Tremarco Nurse Justine, Mark Womack DCI Costello, Philip Hill Pearson DC Liam Frainey, Shaun Mason Kyle Smart 

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Luther at Harrogate Crime Festival – series 3 is going to be ‘carnage’

Idris Elba as Luther. Pic: BBC

Special report: Charlotte Biermann

BBC1’s popular and critically controversial Luther came under the spotlight at this year’s Harrogate Crime Writing Festival over the weekend. Journalist  Miranda Sawyer led a talk with some its cast and production team, which saw them laughing and joking about the dark and disturbing material the show’s creator Neil Cross foists upon them.
The third series is currently being written and is eagerly awaited. However, it has now been revealed it will be the drama’s last TV outing before it makes its move to the big screen. Having received ‘a million-and-one movie offers’, its star actor Idris Elba and the show creator Neil Cross, as joint custodians, feel the move is evitable. So with the end being nigh, series three is set to go out with on hell of a bang: ‘It means there is no holding back of good ideas, they are all going in, so the intention is to make series three f**king awesome!’
As a result, Warren Brown, on the panel with Neil Cross, was excitedly waiting to see what will happen to his character Ripley, thanks to Cross revealing that we will see the spiritual corruption of Ripley spiral further, and promising it will be Ripley’s best series by far and away: ‘It will be carnage from beginning to end.’ 
Four Emmy nominations for Luther
Neil Cross

While Lutherhas been generally praised all over the world and especially in America, with even President and Mrs Obama admitting to being fans, it has had a bumpy ride with UK critics. Largely panned to begin with, Cross believes this was largely The Wirecasting a shadow and that the reviewers were ‘reviewing their own prejudices’, expecting Idris Elba to again be playing a drug-dealing Stringer Bell.

But as Luther bedded in and  became increasingly popular with TV audiences regardless, there has been a steady change of heart and even the odd apology. This will no doubt be further enhanced with the announcement that series two has been nominated for four Emmys (Neil Cross for best writing, Idris Elba for best actor, best miniseries, Sam Miller for best director)!

Luther has proved itself not to be a traditional cop show and with the whole production team all set to pull out all of the stops in the third series, the ambitions of the BBC for him to be an iconic copper may yet succeed.
Oh, and don’t be surprised if you hear the word ‘Harrogate’ in episode four of this last series. Amidst the dark drama, Cross has set himself the fun challenge to slip the codename into the script.

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Inside Men starring Steven Mackintosh PREVIEW

Blag of nerves – honest John (Steven Mackintosh) steps up. Pic: BBC

Rating: ★★★★

BBC1, starts Thursday, 2 February, 9pm

Story: John Coniston manages a highly secure cash counting house. One day he finds himself in the middle of a terrifying, bloody armed robbery. Flash back to nine months earlier and John is confronting two employees he suspects to siphoning off £50,000. They expect boring, playsafe John to call the cops, but John offers them a way out…

Television is so obsessed with whodunits and police procedurals that it usually leaves the heist escapades to the movies.

Inside Men breaks that pattern with a intriguing character study of three guys who, because of their individual problems and insecurities, decide to step out of their comfort zones and risk everything by attempting a £15million robbery.

Steven Mackintosh, Ashley Walters and Warren Brown perfectly manage the haunted looks of the men saying no more Mr Nice Guy. This is a caper without geezers, just three beta males who want to be alpha.

Warren Brown and Kierston Wareing
Mackintosh plays the mouse-like John Coniston, manager of a cash counting house who looks like he’s going to be sick every time a fiver goes missing. So desperate is he to maintain his generally unblemished monthly record at the staff bonus party that he replaces a missing £240 from his own wallet.

Also working at the depot is forklift driver Marcus (Warren Brown), an irresponsible dreamer with debts and a loving, lairy wife, Gina (Kierston Wareing). Chris (Ashley Walters) is the security guard with an alcoholic mother, who lands a new girlfriend and suddenly wants to get out of his miserable rut.

The opening episode of this four-parter kicks off with pounding tension as masked robbers hit the depot. Events then backtrack nine months and we get an insight into the lives of the three principals.

Going for broke
The narrative flashes back and forth, cleverly keeping the viewer on edge. Steven Mackintosh holds the whole thing together as the head-down drone with a plodding marriage who suddenly decides to go for broke.

Warren Brown breezes through as reckless Marcus, and only Ashley Walters is playing against type as timid and shy.

Written by Tony Basgallop (EastEnders, Being Human, Hotel Babylon), this is full of sharp character strokes – such as John’s awful mateyness with a boss who clearly thinks he’s a loser – that  keep you watching to how the desperadoes get through this.

It’s an involving, tense opener that’s right on the money.

Cast: Steven Mackintosh John, Ashley Walters Chris, Warren Brown Marcus, Kierston Wareing Gina, Leila Mimmack Dita, Nicola Walker Kirsty, Hannah Merry Olivia, Tom Mannion Gordon, Ruth Gemmell Rebecca, Paul Popplewell  Tom

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