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The Escape Artist

The Escape Artist

Tue Oct 29, 9-10pm, BBC1

By Gabriel Tate
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Episode one
David Tennant’s recent gigs have involved his characters getting taken down a peg or two – the ambitious MP of ‘The Politician’s Husband’, the insightful copper of ‘Broadchurch’ – and ‘The Escape Artist’ is no different.

The title of this new three-parter refers to Tennant’s Will Burton, a junior barrister who extracts his clients from apparently certain doom. Having never lost a case, Burton is handed the defence of Liam Foyle (Toby Kebbell, splendidly cast as a superior, emotionally distant creep): a bird fancier accused of a horrific murder, harbouring what appears to be an insatiable appetite for gruesome porn. Has Burton met his match?

It flirts to excess with standard courtroom drama and house-invasion thriller, but David ‘Spooks’ Wolstencroft’s characterisation, especially of the two leads, is acute and beautifully played. And on those rare occasions when the pace slackens, a fine ensemble including Sophie Okonedo (Burton’s rival), Ashley Jensen (his wife) and Anton Lesser (his boss) keep things ticking over.
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