There is a game we play in our house called ‘what else has he been in?’, and one that is guaranteed to drive fellow television viewers mad.
It is a pastime which all of the family can join in with, but isn’t as much fun since the advent of Google gave us the ability to discover who played the sidekick of Jacko from Brush Strokes in a matter of seconds.
Oh, it’s him... you know, from thingy
There would have been pinched noses and furiously scratched foreheads in front rooms everywhere for the first episode of Safe House (Monday, ITV), a thriller with a very impressive cast list.
The star, Christopher Eccleston, aside most viewers will have known the famous faces on the screen, but not necessarily their names. You had the chap (Jason Merrells) and the lady (Nicola Stephenson) who always seem to appear in Northern dramas as the couple whose child is victim of an attempted abduction from Blackpool seafront.
It wasn’t long before other wel-known faces were introduced to the action, including Eccleston’s on-screen wife, portrayed by Marsha Thomason, and his clichéd former police colleague played by Paterson Joseph, a man who regularly crops up in crime dramas – but who remains best known in these parts as Alan, the slightly odd boss of David Mitchell’s character Mark in Peep Show.
The premise of this tense four parter was an original one – the aforementioned daytrippers and their children (and stepchildren it later transpired) were whisked away to a safe house after dad was beaten up by the would-be kidnapper who ended up murdering a Good Samaritan who stepped in.
The Lake District safe house is run by Eccleston’s character, who was talked into it by his former colleague, although one imagines it takes much longer than 24 hours for somebody to get a licence from the Home Office for such an establishment. Artistic licence aside, Safe House is a fast moving drama with plenty of edge-of-the-seat moments, and is one which is sure to keep viewers everywhere gripped.
While familiar faces are reassuring to Mr and Mrs Square Eyes, often repeated ideas and concepts are the surest way to have them reaching for the off button.