Remote Control - Saturday June 13, 2015

O-T Fagbenle is Ash in the new BBC action drama, The Interceptor
O-T Fagbenle is Ash in the new BBC action drama, The Interceptor

Amateurs on the hunt for the new Professionals

The movie based on the BBC’s spy drama series Spooks was released earlier this year, reminding us how badly the Beeb had missed its hit action show.

It has tried to replace it with series such as Hunted, in which pouting Aussie Melissa George tried to convince us she was a spy with a tortured past, and By Any Means, in which Luther’s Warren Brown tried to convince us he headed a secret police offshoot dedicated to bringing down hardened criminals.

Neither series caught the audience’s attention, and neither has been seen again.

It seems only Silent Witness is still rolling on, it’s CSI: Islington silliness still getting decent ratings.

This week, we saw the BBC’s latest attempt at a weeknight, prime time action series.

The Interceptor (BBC1, Wednesday, 9pm) opened with a neat reversal – I won’t spoil it for you – but all-too-quickly settled into by-the-numbers cops with guns.

O-T Fagbenle was Ash, an undercover Customs officer for whom catching criminals was personal.

Following a botched drug sting – in which his partner was seriously injured – Fagbenle was recruited by UNIT – not the Doctor Who one – another shadowy, covert police squad given carte blanche to ignore the Police and Criminal Justice Act.

With his partner in hospital, and the bungled op apparently “on him”, catching the big fish becomes even more personal for our Ashley.

Inevitably, being a maverick cop with a chequered past, Ash “went rogue”, which resulted in bringing down the episode’s bad guy, at the cost of a telling-off and a wry grin from the boss, rather than a failed prosecution and a civil suit for assault.

The wafer-thin characters of the cops were matched by the even thinner characterisation of Ash’s family, who seemed to be there to give Ash a moment’s pause before ignoring them and agreeing to get involved with UNIT.

The appearance of Trevor Eve at the end, as The Interceptor’s chief villain, added to the pantomime feel.

It appeared they were trying to channel the spirit of shows like The Professionals and The Sweeney, but The Interceptor came over more like a community support office with ideas above his station.

Someone get me Harry Pearce.

@rilthy