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TELLYBOX: Trigger Point is good and The Responder is brilliant

Martin Freeman as Chris in The Responder.
Martin Freeman as Chris in The Responder.

In any other week, the big crime drama debut story of the moment would be the first episode of Trigger Point (STV).

This tense new series about a police bomb disposal team is produced by Line of Duty’s creator Jed Mercurio.

Getting some of the old team back together, the Daniel Brierley-written series also stars Vicky McClure, aka LoD’s flinty-eyed copper Kate Fleming.

There’s an Easter egg for Line of Duty fans in the way her character Lana Washington trades the word “mate” with her partner Joel Nutkins (Adrian Lester) as though it were punctuation.

Vicky McClure as Lana Washington, Eric Shango as Danny and Mark Stanley as DCI Thom in Trigger Point.

The series deals in sparse thrills and wire-cutting tension over LoD’s increasingly preposterous set-pieces.

We’ll keep watching, especially after the twist ending, but this week, also saw the debut of Tony Schumacher’s five-part police drama The Responder (BBC One).

Just… wow. What a piece of work it is.

Tense, personal and breathtaking

Relentlessly bleak, which makes the glimmer of hope at its core all the brighter.

Breath-holding tension levels, quietly personal, funny in the most “if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry” way possible.

Dealing in serious issues like poverty, drug addiction, domestic violence and mental health without a hint of contrivance or disrespect.

At the heart of it all is Martin Freeman as urgent response officer Chris Carson.

Troubled and on the edge,  he prowls the streets of Liverpool late at night, dealing with people bearing mental health crises worse than his own and the occasional bit of trouble.

His dubious friend Carl (Ian Hart, wearing a scally mop of hair) calls Chris and asks – or rather, demands – that he find a runaway heroin addict named Casey, played by Emily Fairn with a perfect blend of desperation and cheek.

Adelayo Adedayo as Rachel in The Responder.

The holdall full of drugs Casey has stolen becomes the focal point for five nightshifts in which the lives of all who come near it unravel.

Most of all Chris, demoted from a senior position for unspecified reasons, and as seemingly disinterested in any other human being as he is good at getting the job done with blunt efficiency.

Roll-call of lost souls

Other lost souls include drug dealer Carl, matey and psychotic by turns, but a man out of his own depth.

There are roughly charming but seemingly doomed scallies Casey and Marco, played to perfection by Fairn and Josh Finan; and Chris’s wife Kate (MyAnna Buring).

She’s been lost from him for so long that she ends up in the arms of his ex-colleague Ray, a man so troubled in his own right that he’s fabricated an investigation of Chris, despite not even being a copper anymore.

Defining role of Freeman’s career

It’s no exaggeration to say this might be the defining role of Freeman’s career, or that it  has the potential to equal Tim from The Office in viewers’ minds.

Taut, wounded, convincingly Liverpudlian, sometimes menacing or even nasty, but diligently visiting his slowly-dying mother (Rita Tushingham) – every moment he’s onscreen is magnetic.

When he isn’t, Adelayo Adedayo as his rookie partner Rachel steals the whole series with the white-knuckle moment she confronts her abuser boyfriend.

Awards are coming their way, and that of police-officer-turned-cabbie-turned-writer Schumacher, who was unsurprisingly mentored by Jimmy McGovern.

All set for a sequel, this outstanding series is less Line of Duty, more the new Cracker.

It’s that good.

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