Crim­i­nal case of deja vu

The Herald - Arts - - TV & RADIO - Mark Smith

Gene Hunt, the old-school cop­per from the 1970s drama Life On Mars, was not a nice per­son. He ended ev­ery sen­tence with a punch. He was sex­ist, vi­o­lent and cor­rupt. He’s prob­a­bly the kind of char­ac­ter that makes Jeremy Clark­son laugh and – se­cretly – helps some view­ers to con­vince them­selves that polic­ing was bet­ter when of cers could still give peo­ple a good kick­ing or write their con­fes­sions for them.

The re­al­ity was a lit­tle dif­fer­ent. Some view­ers might have been laugh­ing, but what Hunt ac­tu­ally rep­re­sented was a lot of the aw­ful things about the 1970s that we’ve tried to leave be­hind: sex­ism, bad food, sit­u­a­tion come­dies about the black man who lives next door, Labour gov­ern­ments, that kind of thing. Hunt re­minded us of it all and I just didn’t get the joke.

And yet here he is again in the new modern-day crime drama Hid­den (Thurs­day, BBC One, 9pm), or at least a di­luted-down ver­sion of him with a dif­fer­ent name. The char­ac­ter is a dodgy Lon­don so­lic­i­tor called Arry Venn but ev­ery­one can see it’s just Gene Hunt with water added; Hunt un­der a re­strain­ing or­der; Hunt mi­nus 40% of Hunt.

You can also see that this is pretty frus­trat­ing for poor Philip Glenis­ter who has played Hunt for so long now ev­ery part of his body strains to do the man­ner­isms. His lips pout con­tin­u­ally, des­per­ate to spit out a sex­ist com­ment, while his sts twitch and spasm with the urge to punch some­one, any­one. Hunt is now in Glenis­ter’s mus­cle mem­ory, burst­ing to get out.

De­spite this, poor Glenis­ter was made to wait a full 15 min­utes and 18 sec­onds in the rst episode of Hid­den be­fore he could give vent and get down to a bit of retro vi­o­lence. A crim­i­nal looked at him the wrong way so Arry slammed his face into the ta­ble. Oh, how that thud must have sounded to Glenis­ter. It’s the thud of hu­man skin meet­ing wood that says: I’m back!

And then, un­for­tu­nately, Glenis­ter and the rest of the cast had to say the di­a­logue out loud, where we could hear it. Di­a­logue such as this line, spo­ken by a wo­man who’s just slept with Arry: “I don’t want our son, who is deal­ing with a lot of is­sues, nd­ing you here. We’re di­vorced.” How nice of her to ex­plain to Arry they have a son and they’re di­vorced. Un­less she was do­ing it for our bene t. Do you think?

But poor Arry. Some­one has just phoned his of ce. “Get out of your of ce Arry.” Arry asks why. “Just get out now Arry.” And so he does. Arry gets out of his of ce just be­fore it blows up. Ex­cept it’s a pretty pa­thetic ex­plo­sion. More a pwhut than an ex­plo­sion. I haven’t felt this much dis­ap­point­ment in an ex­plo­sion since my dad’s re­work dis­plays in the gar­den in the good old 1970s.

Per­haps the prob­lem is that Glenis­ter sim­ply felt he didn’t want to stray too far from the suc­cess of Life On Mars. Or per­haps – and this seems more likely – pro­duc­ers sim­ply can’t see be­yond the last thing that got view­ers. Glenis­ter has just played a dodgy Lon­don type, so let’s get him to do that. For­ever and ever. I don’t know who to feel more sorry for. Glenis­ter, or us.

Philip Glenis­ter stars along­side Thekla Reuten in new con­spir­acy drama Hid­den

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