The 15-second trailer for BBC1’s new thriller series The Interceptor, which starts tonight, makes it look like electrifying stuff. There’s loads of running, jumping, thumping, shooting, screeching tyres and people crashing through plate glass windows.
The one drawback of the opening episode is that the other 59 minutes and 45 seconds of it pack all the power of a birthday candle. High-octane action has never before been this tediously repetitive.
Inspired, believe it or not, by the exploits of a real-life customs agent, it stars OT Fagbenle — who, like almost everyone in the cast, frequently goes OTT — as Marcus Ashton, or Ash for short.
Ash hates drugs. By God does he HATE drugs! By God does he REALLY HATE drugs! If there’s one thing he really, really, really hates more than drugs, it’s drug dealers.
No surprise there, since his father was a drug dealer. And a murderer as well. In a brief flashback to the 80s, the young Ash is walking home from school one day, a Sony Walkman (without which no 80s flashback would be complete) plugged into his ears, when he witnesses his bad dad gunning down another man in cold blood, leaving Ash in a lifetime of pain.
You can see the pain in his face. He scowls ALL the time . . . except for when he’s shaking his head and smiling ironically at the injustices of the world as another major criminal slips from his grasp.
That’s the problem, you see: Ash and his buddy Tommy (Robert Lonsdale) are sick of catching just the small fry while the biggest and baddest of the bad guys, one of whom is played by Trevor Eve (no, really), keep getting away scot-free.
Ash’s scowl goes into overdrive when a lowlife played by a madly overacting Paul Kaye, who manages the difficult trick of scowling, sneering and snarling all at the one time, leaves Tommy paralysed.
But there’s help at hand. Cartwright (Ewan Stewart), the head of a top-secret law enforcement team dedicated to bringing the most dangerous criminals to justice, has been keeping an eye on Ash and recruits him.
“You take crime personally,” Cartwright tells him. “You have a talent there.”
“Yeah . . . or a curse,” growls Ash.
This the kind of series where everyone talks tough — yes, even Trevor Eve — in a kind of weird, drawn-out drawl. All the male characters stride slowly and purposefully around the place, like they’ve suffered a little touch of follow-through.
Well, all of them apart from Ash, who seems to run everywhere — an airport, a tube station, you name it, sooner or later he’s going to run through it. He even runs into the middle of a motocross race near the end of tonight’s instalment.
The Interceptor unsuccessfully tries to weld together various bits and pieces from Spooks, The Professionals and even The Wire. There’s quite a bit of listening in to conversations. God knows why they need all that fancy electronic equipment, though, when the crims have a habit of loudly discussing their business in places like pubs and cafes.
Despite all the huffing and puffing and chasing around it does, it’s curiously flat and sluggish. It’s also hard to take any of it remotely seriously when one of the hardmen is played by the chunky bloke who used to be cartoon villain Jez in Coronation Street.
The presence of another soap refugee, Jo Joyner (EastEnders), as Ash’s wife just reinforces the low-rent feel. Someone should have intercepted this dud sooner.
The Interceptor BBC1, 9pm tonight (Wed June 10)
Raw, rancid anger rose from the screen throughout In A House That Ceased To Be, a tough to watch documentary about humanitarian campaigner Christina Noble. The film, a winner at the recent IFTA awards, was no hagiography and at moments Dubliner Noble seemed a prisoner to her furies– rather than finding strength in adversity, a case could be made than her justifiable outrage over her traumatic childhood had soured into a toxic wrath.