Given that the BBC have dumped this new cop serial directly opposite the new series of ‘Downton Abbey’, it might be reasonable to impute that they regard it as somewhat expendable. And, with the best will in the world, ‘By Any Means’ doesn’t boast the nuance or subtlety of certain other recent BBC dramas.
Created by Tony Jordan, this bears more than a passing resemblance to his earlier ‘Hustle’: a grey area between goodies and baddies, a soft spot for flashy editing and spectacular set-pieces, a cavalier attitude towards issues of plausibility and yet a certain good-natured, guileless cheek that’s hard to dislike. This opener introduces a unit of maverick, rule-breaking cops led by Warren Brown’s Jack Quinn.
Tonight they’re doing battle with Keith Allen’s cartoon villain Nicholas Mason, a celebrity hood whose brutal ruthlessness is only matched by his carefully managed public profile. It’s pretty daft, but if ‘Downton...’ has lost you – and who could blame you if that was the case – you could do worse.