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Crossfire review: This mass-shooting drama is a tasteless, idiotic dud

Star Keeley Hawes has to shoulder some extra blame since she’s one of the producers

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Keeley Hawes tries to foil terrorists at a holiday hotel in the three-part Crossfire, a rare turkey from Britain’s biggest TV actress

Keeley Hawes tries to foil terrorists at a holiday hotel in the three-part Crossfire, a rare turkey from Britain’s biggest TV actress

Keeley Hawes tries to foil terrorists at a holiday hotel in the three-part Crossfire, a rare turkey from Britain’s biggest TV actress

IT surely can’t be Christmas already, can it? (Checks calendar). Nope, it’s still only September. And yet, we’ve just received the first true turkey of the year in the flailing shape of mass-shooting drama Crossfire (BBC1), which is being stripped across three nights, concluding on Thursday.

In the far distant days before streaming and binge-watching, whenever a channel showed a drama on consecutive evenings rather than consecutive weeks, it meant we were in for a big, juicy slice of event television.

Basically, this was the broadcaster shouting at viewers: “This drama is so brilliant, so nail-bitingly addictive, you simply wouldn’t be able to bear the agony of having to wait seven whole days for the next episode!”

Sometimes they were even telling the truth. Nowadays, a drama going out on consecutive nights is just as likely to be a sign that everyone involved knows they have a stinker on its hands and wants to get it out there and done with as quickly as possible to minimise the embarrassment. I suspect this is what’s happening here.

Put it this way: if Crossfire, which stars the reigning queen of British TV drama, the truly wonderful Keeley Hawes, were any good, it would be going out on Sunday night, the BBC’s most important drama slot of the week, not tossed away on three weeknights in early autumn.

But merely tossing it away is more than it deserves. By right, it should be flung into an already blazing skip fire and then doused in a few extra litres of petrol to make sure all traces of it are obliterated — if only to prevent RTÉ buying it.

Crossfire seems to be inspired, if that’s the appropriate word, by the 2015 attack by an Islamic terrorist gunman on a hotel in Tunisia that left 38 people, including 30 Britons and three Irish citizens, dead.

As if milking a real-life atrocity for a fictional drama isn’t sufficiently crass, writer Louise Doughty reduces the horror of a mass-shooting to nothing more than a peg on which to hang a soapy tale of middle-class marital strife and infidelity.

Hawes plays Jo, a former police officer who now works in security. She’s on holiday with her husband Jason (Lee Ingleby), their three kids and a group of old friends and their kids at a family resort in Tenerife.

The couple are heading for the rocks. Jason, who’s a whiny jerk, keeps trying to belittle Jo in front of their friends, which embarrasses everyone else at the table into an awkward silence, ruining the evening.

When not bickering with her husband, Jo is sexting the man she’s having an affair with. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that this is Jason’s best pal since childhood, Chinar (Vikash Bhai), who’s married to Jo’s friend Kate (Anneika Rose).

The morning after, a fuming Jo is sunbathing alone on the balcony and sending sexy selfies to Chinar, who’s down at the pool, when the shooting starts. Two masked gunman stalk the hotel grounds, randomly shooting the guests. Panic erupts. People flee in all directions. Children get separated from their parents and vice-versa.

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Seeing what’s happening down below, Jo swaps her flip-flops for trainers and sets off to foil the killers with the help of a hotel staffer who happens to have a couple of shotguns he uses for hunting rabbits.

Crossfire might have worked as a cut-price package holiday Die Hard, but Doughty’s script keeps flashing back to show us how Jo and Chinar ended up cheating on their spouses. Honestly, who cares?

Back in the present, the scattered characters are required to behave like idiots. Everyone keeps texting or phoning everyone else. A minor character, a disposable Spaniard, points out that a ringing phone could alert the gunmen to someone hiding out to stay alive. But they just keep on doing the same thing anyway.

Most ridiculous of all is the moment when Jason, having discovered Jo’s incriminating texts and photos, puts his frantic search for his missing son on hold in order to send an abusive voicemail to Chinar.

Crossfire is a catastrophic dud: stupid, misjudged and in extremely poor taste. Hawes has to shoulder some extra blame, since she’s one of the executive producers.

No doubt some viewers will stick with it to the end in the hope it gets better. Trust me, I’ve seen the whole thing. It only gets worse.


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