Sunday, 26 September 2010


New Tricks - Left Field (Series Seven, Episode Three - BBC One). John Davies, a notorious paedophile, wants to make a confession about the abduction and murder of a five-year-old boy 25 years after the tragedy. The reopening of the case leads UCOS to revisit political activism of the eighties and to pay a visit at MI5's headquarters!

Five-year-old Yasser Blackledge disappeared while on a demo with his parents, left-wing activists Anne Gorton (Samantha Bond) and Fred Blackledge (Kevin R. McNally). At the time, a press "witch hunt" against Anne and Fred clouded the investigation and, while Davies (Adrian Schiller) was known to the couple through various rallies and meetings, it couldn't be proven that he had abducted their son. Sandra (Amanda Redman) and Jack (James Bolam) suspect his confession is an attempt to return to the relative safety of a prison cell.

« How is this for a title: The Secret War on Modern men.
- Ouh, sounds good.
- Stick to your cookbooks, Gerry.
- Yeah. You'd like that, wouldn't you? Me tied to a kitchen sink, seen and not heard. » (Brian, Gerry and Sandra)

New Tricks has always been the police procedural with a difference. In Left Field, written brilliantly by Lisa Holdsworth (Waterloo Road), past the usual cold case premise you find 1980s militantism, gender politics ("Feminazi"), good old Dr Grafenberg (« The inventor of the G-spot. And I do mean the inventor. »), Dennis Waterman's Gerry Standing at his very best (« Book me in for a Brazilian! ») and hilarious nods to Spooks and some sixties spy classics.

One of the highlights of the episode is Brian Lane (Alun Armstrong) and Gerry going to MI5 headquarters to consult surveillance files and notes (« Nice piles, neat piles. »), with the entire cooperation of "the spooks" except for access to the nearest tea machine and the loos! And those headquarters are actually the magnificent Freemasons' Hall, the London building which dubs as MI-5 headquarters in BBC's hit Spooks. The composer even pays a subtle tribute to John Barry's famous theme for The Ipcress File (1965).

Another summit is when Esther Lane, played by Susan Jameson, puts an end to one of Brian's antics as he believes MI5 spies on him because of his wife's past political activities («Would you like to talk about what ruined your career?») The cast is superb, particularly Samantha Bond, and the direction of this instant classic by Philip John is excellent. (Lisa Holdsworth's blog) (Interview)

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