I just took a break from the laundry - see the final sentence in the post below - and watched the first episode of By Any Means on my mate Rupe's dead clever recording-thingie which, from the bountiful depths of his heart, he donated to me, er, provided I took up just about every available channel on Sky! Anyway, I haven't enjoyed anything so much on the 'telly' for ages. It is, and I cannot stress this too strongly, utter and complete tosh but it is witty, sharp and nearly as multi-layered as a John le Carré plot! The lead is played by Warren Brown about whom I raved - raved, I tell you! - back in October last year when he played Constable Rocksavage in Good Cop, one of the very best TV drama productions I have ever seen.
In this current series - Sunday evenings BBC1 - he is back playing cops and robbers, this time as the leader of a 'grey' unit charged with using any and all means to bring down the villains. In the first episode, the types of villain range from the sublime to the ridiculous. One of them is a 'thick-as-a-plank' teenage 'youf' who keeps absconding from the public service duties imposed on him by sundry magistrates. He is a fanatical 'footie' fan so 'the team' set up a rigged competition in which you can win a free season ticket to the Arsenal ground. Needless to say, thick, gobby 'youf' thinking he's won falls for it but what adds to the humour is that when he is frog-marched up to the prison van it is full of similar dopes all dressed in their 'footie' supporters gear!
That is the lighter end of the spectrum but the main villain is altogether different. Played brilliantly by Keith Allen, he is a super rich gangster with psychopathic tendencies. The scene in his plush office in which he gradually approaches his lip-foaming point and his two enormous enforcers fidget on their feet and shoot worried glances at each other is beautifully observed and played by all concerned. Of course, writing as an am-director myself I allot much of the praise to the director of this first episode, Charles Palmer. The shooting, cutting, playbacks, everything, was brilliant - and above all else, tremendous fun. If it continues as good as this you must - absolutely must - set your recorder-thingies. What?! You haven't got one! You mean Rupe isn't a friend of yours? Oh dear, what a pity, never mind!