Criminal case of deja vu
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