The series focused on various murders in the fictional suburban English town of Middleford. The crimes are solved by two female police detectives, Inspector Kate Ashurst and Sergeant Emma Scribbins, aka "Ash and Scribbs".
With the help of DS John Bacchus, Inspector George Gently spends his days bringing to justice members of the criminal underworld who are unfortunate enough to have the intrepid investigator assigned to their cases.
Thoroughly enjoyable and very refreshing TV detective drama
I loved this somewhat undemanding show when it aired, but reading some of the inane comments in the reviews has made me want to write one. If you're easily offended I politely suggest you skip this review. Can it ever be overstated, how rare it still is to find a British detective drama or indeed any other kind of British drama whatsoever in which the lead is played by a black man? Or, for that matter, where the thorny subject of racism is tackled, incidentally, and with humour and generosity? I nearly fell off my chair laughing at one user comment that such issues don't exist in the area in which this show is set qualified by adding something to the effect of: not, at least, on a large scale. No, I'm sure But there's a 'blindness' that operates in reality in Britain: unless you have racism forced on your attention, it's very easy to persuade yourself that it doesn't exist any more in our modern and "reformed" society. The reality remains, silenced, I suspect, by the very PC movement that sought to address it, in the glass ceilings, the lack of cultural understanding, the "sleepwalking our way to segregation" as Trevor Philips quite rightly puts it.
So, how refreshing and wonderful to find this series, which I thoroughly enjoyed, even whilst fully aware of its occasional clichés, its slightly old fashioned style and dodgy regional accents, and its unsurprising romance. Who cares? none of these haven't already been spotted before in almost every British detective drama, so all the more reason for this series to be taken on its own merits. The chief of these is the charismatic Don Gilet in the lead role of Nicky Cole, the London copper cast, through his brave but impolitic actions, into the career wilderness (and punishment) of a night shift in the police force in the north. The setting happens to be Newcastle, a rare chance to see a great-looking city, but it could be anywhere. He encounters a world often unwilling to make the necessary leap of faith, to believe in him at face value and on the basis of his record. So, like many men and women in his position, he must prove himself by working twice as hard, being twice as good at his job as everybody around him. Some of this is racism; some is good old-fashioned "you ain't from round here" suspicion of the new. But one of the pleasures of this series (beyond its making it to the screen at all!) is that this issue is still a sub-plot. Taken out of the mix, it's just an engaging police drama.
Another reviewer at the opposite end of the spectrum commented cynically on the 'PC' nature of the show, how it ticked equal opportunity boxes. In the eye of the beholder But again, can I stress how highly unusual it is that this show got made at all? Wow, only imagine, if TV shows were really commissioned principally with a desire to address equal opportunities and represent Britain as it really is! I liked this show very much indeed, and strongly recommend it, not as a diatribe on racism but as a very enjoyable entry in the long police drama canon. Some suspension of disbelief may be required, but we're all used to that, right?
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