There will come a point, I suppose, when all the police departments have been discovered by broadcasters’ drama teams and mined to exhaustion. Within a few years, possibly, we will be gamely struggling to evince interest in the workings of Polzeath’s Anti-Jaywalking Squad (who is the mysterious stranger who keeps crossing against the lights?) or the Snettisham Window Box Protection Unit (when Mrs Addlestrop’s hyacinths are brutally uprooted, Claire Goose as DCI Crumblebum must catch the culprit before he starts on her lobelia). But for now there are still unplumbed sectors where real drama is to be had.
So to new ITV series Trigger Point, created by Daniel Brierley, produced by the company owned by Line of Duty’s Jed Mercurio and built round that series’ woefully underused actor Vicky McClure. She plays an “expo”, a member of the Metropolitan Police bomb disposal squad called – wildly unconvincingly, but maybe that’s just me – Lana Washington. Her partner in bomb disposition is Joel “Nut” Nutkins (I suspect this time it’s not just me), played by Adrian Lester, with whom she served in Afghanistan.
In short order the bantering pair are attending a call to a suspected bomb factory in a London tower block; rescuing bound women and children from within divan beds; discovering IEDs behind toilets, pressure plates in front of them; secondary devices behind boilers; and demanding the crowds be moved further and further back as the explosive potential mounts. Then there’s all the jargon directed into their shoulder-mounted walkie-talkies (“We’re going to need to prep the pollysquash” they say at one point, no matter how many rewindings I perform).
It’s great fun as long as you set your preposterousness levels to “high”. Go in thinking CSI: Peckham or Line of Bomb Duty or Bomby McBombface, rather than The Wire But With Actual Wires or Breaking Explosively Badly and you’ll enjoy yourself a lot more. There is the obligatory accidental near-trigger, by Lana, of the secondary device that requires her to stay absolutely still and not let her sweaty finger slip on the wobbly light switch she has partially depressed in a not-wholly-credible thoughtless moment until Nutty McNutface has defused it. Phew! Not that there was any real danger, of course, that the lead would be offed in the first 20 minutes. Still … It’s around this time that an air of the Lisa Faulkners (if you do not get this reference, that’s fine – consider it inconsiderately oblique, but still: potential spoiler avoided) begins to gather and refuses to disperse.
Bomb the third is discovered under a car and they deploy that robot thing that they used in the final episode of Mercurio’s (equally ridiculous and enjoyable) Bodyguard to try to defuse Richard Madden – but it breaks down.
The vehicle belongs to Andy Phelan, the missing husband of the divanned woman and child. Just as everyone’s beginning to get chin-strokingly suspicious about his disappearance, he emerges from the car boot. Strapped to him is a suicide vest – bomb the fourth! This is quality stuff. With all these IEDs, Messrs Brierley and Mercurio, you are really spoiling us!
Naturally, Lana steps up to divest him of his vest and realises it can be remotely detonated at any time. As the firearms people start swarming over the estate looking for the would-be triggerererer, Andy starts to feel the strain. “Keep fucking still,” says Lana, and quite right too. Nutso-Nut-Nut comes to help and she cuts the wires Just In Time. Hurrah! They lead Andy to safety but the audience knows better than to relax. That’s four bombs and no boom. Did we stretch out on the sofa and adjust our waistbands for this? No. The ghost of Lisa Faulkner hovers. She stretches out a spectral finger. Who will she touch? How will they – BOOM! Ah.
Lana staggers to her feet, covered in debris and ash. The powers that be are now convinced that this is the work of a sophisticated terrorist cell. The remaining five episodes promise to go inside the world of counter-terrorism policing and bomb disposal experts, as a campaign by violent extremists gets under way across the capital.
Maybe it will tell us something about the psychology of people who walk towards danger rather than scream and try to run in seven different directions away from it. Maybe it will tell us something about institutional sexism, as Lana goes about her work in a massively male-dominated field. Or maybe it will be happy to stick with slick entertainment and the occasional well-placed explosion. Whatever the path chosen, just set your dials correctly and enjoy the ride.