Review: Adrian Dunbar fails to hit the high notes as Ridley, the singing detective
and live on Freeview channel 276
Dunbar takes Ted Hastings from Line of Duty and transplants him to somewhere ‘in the north’ for Ridley, a straight-down-the-line ex-copper with a mournful air and half-empty jazz club for a side hustle.
Brought in by his former partner, DI Carol Farman (Bronagh Waugh), to help when a murder turns out to have links to a case Ridley worked in the past, it’s New Tricks without the light-hearted banter.
It includes all the TV cop show cliches, with an irascible boss one shouting match from a gastric ulcer, a copper with a chaotic home life – Farman’s wife has just left her after a row over expanding the family – and a huge plot twist just before the last ad break.
It also breaks its own rules. The conditions for Ridley’s return to the force as a civilian helper include “no powers of arrest, and you can interview suspects in the field, but never under caution”. But by the end of the second episode, he’s in an interview room with a bloke who’s just admitted, at best, manslaughter asking questions with a Hastings-esque glare.
As usual, he gets a troubled back story, with a wife and daughter dead in a house fire and regular prison visits to a sociopath he nicked in the past – who helps him solve the cases with his criminal mind.
Finally, there’s more than one murder in Ridley, as Dunbar massacres the stately splendour of Richard Hawley’s beautiful 50s-flecked ballads.
As a drama, it’s perfectly serviceable, but you can’t help thinking it’s just an extended ad for the tie-in album, out in time for Christmas.
Grand Designs (C4, Weds, 9pm) is back, and this year you can tell ‘larch’ is very much en vogue. What we haven’t seen yet are the builds which take years to finish, and most of the owner’s sanity. This week’s ‘modular’ build, for example, took just five months, but was still a beautiful, life-affirming structure – much like the show.
It’s always good fun to see pampered celebrities getting shouted at and covered with sand, which is why Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins (C4, Sun, 9pm) is such an entertaining hour of schadenfreude. It likes to think of itself as getting inside the stars’ psyche, but really we just want to see them fall over.