Review: ITV's new Line of Duty-style Trigger Point is a blast, but Martin Freeman's The Responder is a drama that will blow you away

Another week, and another two ‘prestige’ crime dramas appeared on our screens. Yet while Trigger Point (ITV, Sun, 9pm) and The Responder (BBC1, Mon/Tues, 9pm) shared similar characteristics, it turned out that they were very different beasts.

By Phil Cunnington
Friday, 28th January 2022, 5:00 pm
Updated Friday, 28th January 2022, 8:00 pm

Trigger Point, from the team behind Line of Duty, carried many elements over from that BBC1 hit, including star Vicky McClure.

There were lots of abbreviations and acronyms, sweaty sequences in small rooms and – spoiler alert – a surprise death of someone you assumed was a lead at the end of episode one.

It was all great fun, and the initial bomb disposal was enough to cause a panic attack, but it was all surface, and verging on formulaic.

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Martin Freeman starred as a cop on the edge in the new BBC crime drama The Responder

The Responder was altogether grittier. Sometimes, that can be shorthand for ultraviolence to cover up for deficiencies in plot and characterisation, but that was not the case here.

Martin Freeman played Chris, a down-on-his-luck copper trying to keep body and soul together during long nights on duty.

Chris is a seething ball of rage, trauma and depression, and you’re constantly on edge waiting for the explosion, as he traverses the city encountering a range of scallies and villains, all brilliantly written by former copper Tony Schumacher, none of them two-dimensional, trackie-wearing tearaways.

Enlivened by a streak of black humour, The Responder has bigger things to say – particularly about how police officers can do their jobs when they’re social worker, agony aunt and enforcer, all at the same time.

ITV's Trigger Point starred Vicky McClure and Adrian Lester as Metropolitan Police bomb disposal officers

Trigger Point has pedigree, but over and gone in a flash. It’s The Responder you’ll end up remembering.

The Nilsen Files (BBC2, Mon, 9pm) gave names to the victims of serial killer Denis Nilsen and laid bare the mistakes which allowed him to claim so many lives. It was a riveting watch.

Ozark (Netflix) has returned with the first part of its fourth and final series, and this drama about a family of accidental drug barons becomes ever more like a Shakespearean tragedy. Brilliant.