TV Crime Log: Banks, Gently, Salamander

Some caring coppers return to television this week to help lift your weary spirit.

DCI_BANKS_0Stephen Tompkinson does a good line in grim looks in the series adapted from Peter Robinson’s DCI Banks books. In those, Alan Banks is a former Metropolitan Police copper who downsized to the Dales. What I didn’t realise is that Robinson himself emigrated to Canada in 1974, and writes about the fictional town of Eastvale from Toronto.

Anyway, back to the telly, and the first case for  Banks and his team to solve in this new series involves a strange and sinister child abduction apparently undertaken by a man and a woman claiming to be social workers,

So that’s DCI Banks. Grim-faced, but compassionate,    of a 9pm on Monday nights for the next six weeks on ITV.

UnknownInspector George Gently is based on the novels of Alan Hunter – all 46 of them – published between 1955 and 1999. Hunter produced one a year for half a century, an extraordinary feat of writing stamina.

The fifth series starring Martin ‘Doyle’ Shaw ended on a cliffhanger with both Gently and his Detective Sergeant Bacchus shot. The blurb may, however, put your anxieties to rest:

1969: six months since the shootings in Durham Cathedral. Gently’s injuries in the shoulder and the leg are healed and he is pushing himself back to full fitness. Bacchus, shot in the stomach and seriously injured, has been completing his recuperation in a police convalescent home.

Gently is shocked when he learns of Bacchus’ resignation and annoyed that John hasn’t told him directly. He visits Bacchus in the convalescent home where he has been recuperating and realises that his sergeant has lost his confidence. Still suffering his own mental and physical scars from the Cathedral, Gently sets about fixing Bacchus – by insisting that he helps him with a case while he serves out his notice. Gently has been tasked with investigating a death in custody…

The latest series of Gently kicks off on BBC1, Thursday night at 8.30pm, and you’ll be able to lose yourself in the simple pleasures of the Sixties till the news comes on.

imagesHaving temporarily exhausted its precious reserves of Scandi thrillers with the conclusion of The Bridge II last week – oh, Martin, what have you done? – BBC4 goes Flemish with the beginning of political thriller Salamander.

The blurb wants to make a deposit:

Everyone has secrets. But these can bring down a nation.

Disguised as builders, a group of robbers descend on a top Belgium private bank – but the burglars have no eye for money or other valuables and target only 66 of 800 vaults in the bank. These 66 vaults belong to the country’s industrial, financial, judicial and political elite, and the safe-deposit boxes contained their most intimate secrets – secrets that could bring down the nation.

Who ordered this hack? Who wants to disrupt the state? The bank scramble to cover up the robbery and avoid the involvement of the police, but police inspector Paul Gerardi (Filip Peeters) catches wind of the affair. With his incorruptible, old-school morals and devil-may-care attitude, Gerardi throws himself into the investigation, and when some of the key players are murdered, commit suicide or vanish, he soon realises just how big the case is.

Gerardi discovers that the victims are members of a secret organisation called Salamander. As he becomes the target of both the criminals and the authorities, Gerardi must quickly find out what their agenda is – and who is behind the thefts…

Like The Bridge, the 12-part Salamander unfolds with two episodes every Saturday night. BBC4 has seen its Saturday night share rocket thanks to its imported crime dramas. Let’s hope the Belgians don’t let the side down.

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