Review: Channel 5's crime drama Intruder started bad, and went downhill from there

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The term ‘hate-watch’ – to watch a TV show just to hate it – was a new one to me, until I switched on Intruder (Channel 5, Mon-Thurs, 9pm).

Reader, it was awful. And yet such was my hatred for it, I couldn’t stop watching, to tear holes in it, to laugh at it, to shout in exasperation at it.

The basic plot just about stands up – a well-off, middle class couple (played by Elaine Cassidy and Tom Meeten) confront an intruder in their home and, after a scuffle, the intruder ends up dead on the lovely wooden floor of their cliff top home.

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In comes Sally Lindsay as a shabbily-dressed, hesitant police officer and you think to yourself, oh, okay, we’re in Columbo territory here.

Elaine Cassidy and Tom Meeten starred in Channel 5’s IntruderElaine Cassidy and Tom Meeten starred in Channel 5’s Intruder
Elaine Cassidy and Tom Meeten starred in Channel 5’s Intruder

And that could have worked. The smug married couple find their liberal left tendencies challenged by the intruder – who turns out to be an Asian kid, a talented artist from a good home.

Meanwhile, their sense of entitlement could be further undermined by the wily copper and her probing questions.

Unfortunately, that’s not the way it plays out. There’s a weird subplot involving a farmer/drug kingpin – less Scarface, more Oo-Arface. There’s a conveniently maze-like cave system directly below the house; there are cliff top shouting matches; newspaper offices which are inexplicably tidy; anachronistic smartphones.

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Meanwhile, there are huge stretches of episodes where nothing happens, Lindsay is barely ever on screen, and when she does she just seems to talk to her sickly mum on the phone. The acting and camerawork is incredibly stagey and bizarrely comic and the ending, when it eventually comes, is appallingly limp.

It wasn’t ‘so bad it’s good’. I didn’t ‘love to hate it’. It was just bad, and I hated it.

This week’s 24 Hours in Police Custody (Channel 4, Mon, 9pm) was an absorbing hour which touched on a topic – modern slavery – which rarely makes headlines. A terrific episode of a great series.

Agatha and Poirot: Partners in Crime (ITV, Mon, 9pm) was a decent enough canter through the history of Agatha Christie and her most famous literary creation, but didn’t break any moulds.

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