A South Yorkshire detective doesn’t think much of David Cameron’s exhortation that the police should do “more with less”. He says, “The public knows that sometimes the reality is that the only thing you get with less is less.”
The police officers interviewed in this raw and revealing series have no qualms about letting the cameras know that they are up against it as budget cuts bite. But South Yorkshire police has failed an inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary – car crimes and burglaries are rocketing and the force’s bosses introduce punishing new crime reduction targets before the Government intervenes. South Yorkshire has just three months to turn itself around.
Morale takes a battering and relationships with its elected police and crime commissioner become very frosty indeed.
Young students of classic television who have only heard tell of Edge of Darkness in knowing whispers should press their “series record” buttons now. And fans who deem this 1985 benchmark the finest TV drama of all time will want to see it all over again, as it was originally intended – in six packed parts.
The small, private story of Yorkshire detective Ronnie Craven (Bob Peck) and his daughter’s murder slowly opens up into a big, complex puzzle of trade unions, IRA informers, global ecology and nuclear threat. It’s hypnotically, broodingly powerful, and the preference for huge close-ups thrusts you right into the action, from an almost intrusive study of grief to the horror of big-stakes brinkmanship.
With its dial telephones, clunky computers, and Thatcher boasting about nuclear deterrents, Edge takes you to a very specific time, but that works in its favour.
The characters are all memorable, but in Ronnie Craven, writer Troy Kennedy Martin created an abiding tragic hero. Bob Peck is still much missed. Does acting get any better than this?
Gaye Advert, bass player with punk band the Adverts (remember their mighty hit Gary Gilmore’s Eyes?) enjoyed a specific aspect of the movement’s rubber bondage wear: “It was very practical, you could wipe the spit off,” she giggles.
It’s a rare moment of levity in what is otherwise a fairly po-faced examination of the role women played in the British punk explosion of the 1970s. An earnest Miranda Sawyer hangs on every word uttered by the Slits’ Viv Albertine, who tells the story of how Sid Vicious once urinated on stage. “That was amazing,” nods Sawyer, sagely.
Still, it’s good to see people such as Albertine, Advert and Chrissie Hynde all these years later, still with that old spark. It’s best just to ignore the music, though, which was, and remains, terrible.