Cast: Martin Shaw, Lee Ingleby, Maggie O’ Neil, Eamonn Walker, Pippa Bennett-Warner, Lenora Crichlow, Craig Conway, Gary Carr, Simon Hubbard, Cliff Lee.
In the last few years Martin Shaw has proved that a good actor cannot be kept off the screen for too long. The 1970’s saw him as part of The Professionals and in recent years he has kept his fans happy by being the star attraction in Judge John Deed and as the man out of place in Inspector George Gently.
Now into its fifth series, Inspector George Gently remains one of the highlights of intelligent, uncompromising and unflinching B.B.C. drama. The 1960’s was a time of revolution, social change and the seamier side and dangerous undercurrent that strode the period. The start to the latest episode was no different as it bought the undesirable face of 1960’s Britain to the forefront of 21st century Britain.
For the gritty feel that the Swedish dramas bring to the table, there is nothing quite like the drama of the British policeman up against the local bigotry and sense of injustice. In this opening episode, there was more of this realism than had possibly been used before in the series and the troubling aspect of what occurred and what could happen again.
Gently Northern Soul, the episode title, dealt with the vigorous and rank racism that was being felt in Durham and the use of violence that threatened to spill over on to the street at any point. With the death of a young black woman by the side of a road the backdrop for inherent and misplaced paranoia in the community, it wasn’t long before Martin Shaw’s quality as an actor shone through as he came between two factions. George Gently is a man out of place, his time in the North is still tempered by his London beginnings. Martin Shaw however, excels authority on screen and against his fellow detective, Lee Ingleby and the guest starring of the excellent Eamonn Walker, the tale though disturbing and morally uncomfortable to listen to, was nothing short of a superb way to start the series.
Where Inspector George Gently outclasses the gregariousness of other police drama’s is its honesty. Like Inspector Morse before it, it deals with the uncomfortable, the mirror up to the society it reflects and deals with accordingly. The Inspector may be a man out of place but the place he is in is most definitely better for him being there and back on television.
Ian D. Hall