The Interceptor

According to the credits, The Interceptor was created by the respected television writer Tony Saint. Which is odd, as it actually appears to have been assembled by feeding every conceivable cop show cliché into an industrial cliché blender and mopping up whatever’s left in the drip tray at the end.

O-T Fagbenle plays Ash, a customs officer with a personal vendetta (well naturally). Frustrated by low-level collars, he wants to ‘take down the serious crims’, and you won’t be massively surprised to learn he’s not too fussy how he goes about it. He’s a rebel, a maverick, a loose cannon and – guess what? – he likes a drink, too.

In Wednesday’s series opener, our man came onto the radar of an elite special ops unit called, er, UNIT. (It’s not the same UNIT that helps Doctor Who fight space monsters; this one’s much sillier.)

TV does so love an elite ops unit – CI5, Torchwood, Department S and so on – because they rarely waste precious screen time filling in proper health and safety risk assessments. This one specialises in surveillance, eavesdropping on cockney drug dealers who say things like ‘I’m gonna cut yer!’ and ‘Shut yer noise!’. Imagine The Wire directed by Guy Ritchie – and then forget you imagined it, because it will only upset you.

Naturally, O-T proved too explosive even for these guys: he went rogue on his very first assignment, leading to an inevitable dressing down from the boss – I forget his name, but let’s call him Cowley for the sake of argument – who warned he was too close to the case and in danger of jeapordising the whole blimmin’ operation. I know!

Jo Joyner has the most thankless role imaginable as Ash’s wife, whose sole job this week was to look worried and ask ‘Where have you been?’. This she did three times. The cliffhanger ending, meanwhile, should prove baffling to overseas viewers, as it essentially amounted to ‘Ooh look, it’s Trevor Eve’.

The BBC clearly has designs on The Interceptor being the new Spooks, but that show had a stylish conviction entirely absent from this gleefully derivative nonsense. Perhaps someone ought to have intercepted the script and put it where it belongs – in the recycling.


TV extra:


Receiving its UK premiere, somewhat confusingly, on ITV Encore, this brooding slice of Nordic noir, set in the dense pine forests of Sweden, looks set to be 2015’s must-see Scandi drama. Moa Gammel is terrific as Eva, a grieving police negotiator who believes the suspected kidnapping of a child in her home town may provide clues to her own daughter’s disappearance seven years earlier. With nods to Nordic mythology and folklore, the final frame suggested a shift into full-on supernatural territory, setting the scene for a haunting, deliciously dark fairytale.


Pinewood: 80 Years of Movie Magic

This history of the iconic film studios allowed Jonathan Ross to indulge in numerous schoolboy fantasies, including rolling a car and flirting with Miss Moneypenny (Naomie Harris). Such Top Gear-style goofing, along with an entirely superfluous recreation of a deleted dance routine from The Muppet Movie, rather got in the way of telling the story of ‘Britain’s Hollywood’, though I did like JR’s explanation of how Pinewood finally started making money during the Second World War: the government shut down production and moved the Royal Mint in.

Published in Waitrose Weekend, June 11, 2015

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