What’s on Wayne: I loved The Interceptor, but where was Annabel Croft?

Valerie (Lorraine Ashbourne), Cartwright (Ewan Stewart), Ash (OT Fagbenle), Martin (Charlie De Melo)

Valerie (Lorraine Ashbourne), Cartwright (Ewan Stewart), Ash (OT Fagbenle), Martin (Charlie De Melo), Tommy (Robert Lonsdale) and Kim (Anna Skellern) are the stars of new BBC1 drama The Interceptor. - Credit: BBC/Des Willie

Whoever wrote BBC1’s latest crime drama, The Interceptor, should expect a visit from customs about the illegal importation of elements from US series The Wire. Even the theme tune is similar.

Marcus Ashton (O-T Fagbenle) is a by-the-book customs officer from a nice middle class family who has nothing but respect for everybody around him. Only kidding; he’s a loose cannon who’s probably never seen a book.

Childhood trauma has made Ash a very driven ? smug would also be an appropriate description ? pursurer of wrong-doers.

He takes crime PERSONALLY. It’s stated so often that his kids should have it printed on the front of a T-shirt for Father’s Day. The back could read I blame myself, one of his other catchphrases. Forgetting to bring milk home probably sends him into a tailspin.

This clearly isn’t the right line of work for Ash, played with such intensity by Fagbenle. You want him to laugh just to see if his face could take it. Painted as a crime-busting savant, he and his plot device of a partner, Tommy, bungle two operations in the space of days; the second of which leaves Tommy seriously injured and Ash so tightly wound he could chew coal and spit out a diamond.


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Coincidentally, drug dealer Jago, it’s never a good idea to pistol-whip the person you’ve ordered to help you escape while they’re driving. Don’t you know where there’s blame there’s a claim?

Despite spending most of the time disobeying anybody within earshot, brooding in the pub when anything goes wrong or passively neglecting his wife and kids, Ash comes to the attention of an elite team of investigators seemingly operating independently of every other law enforcement agency. Little wonder their ops keep getting blown. Guys, it’s 2015; send a friend request.

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Before he’s even shown where the coffee machine and toilets are, Ash is making connections his new colleagues in a task force so secret it doesn’t seem to have a name can’t ? despite having the latest toys and no interference from the chief, or whoever’s actually in charge.

Naturally this rubs some of them ? including the obligatory toe-the-line boss ? up the wrong way. Um, isn’t Ash’s unorthodox ways why you recruited him? Talk about mixed messages in the workplace. He soon earns their respect, oddly by doing exactly what it was that irritated them in the first place. You’ve got to wonder if Ash’s heart is even really in it. Perhaps his frustration in dealing with the minnows of crime is meant to mirror society’s oft dissatisfaction with the police. My wife thinks I’m looking too deeply. I can imagine him saying “Oh, just the one kilo? On your way, you little scamp”. If he didn’t take crime PERSONALLY, that is.

The dialogue is laughable ? “You’ve got to let it go”, “I can’t”; “We both know bad things happen to good people all the time” ? that sort of thing. There’s lots of intense whispers, intense shouting, intense looks and, well, you get the picture.

Trevor Eve turned up towards the end as some shadowy bigwig, so we can expect more angry shouting in future episodes.

As for the chase sequences, I don’t care how dynamic your camera angles are; you’ll never pass off an opening set-piece involving a portly gentleman giving two younger, fitter men a run for their money, and a bit involving a child’s pram that’s hardly in The Untouchables’ league, as high-octane.

The bit where Ash trails two dealers ? one loudly boasting about his earlier shenanigans that must’ve made the news to a crowded greasy spoon ? and blatantly tries to record their conversation on his phone is hilarious. He might as well have asked if he could join them.

It was all terribly cliched but fun in that so-bad-it’s-good way. I’m still waiting for Annabel Croft to turn up, though...

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