When watching Anthony Horowitz’ new crime drama New Blood this week, something immediately struck me.
It wasn’t that this was a pretty fun thriller, albeit with some pretty naff lines and unlikely plotlines (though it is those things). It wasn’t even that it was odd to release the first three episodes on iPlayer before the programme even premiered episode one on BBC1 (though that’s a little strange too).
No, what confused me was how obsessed this show is with the London property market. Throughout the first few episodes lead characters Stefan (Mark Strepan) and Rash (Ben Tavassoli) regularly suspend their investigations into murder and corruption to fret about getting on the housing ladder, the rights they have to fixed rent and the logistics of getting a mortgage on a low salary.
Rash still lives with his mum and is desperate to move out, but misses an appointment for a spare room and later tries to charm his way to living with the landlord of a murder victim. Meanwhile Stefan lives with unruly flatmates, and when not going undercover and fighting off baddies decides it’s time to buy rather than be at the whims of absentee landlords and rising rents.
Even one of the series’ villains couldn’t resist getting in on the property action, evilly swilling a glass of wine and threatening his niece with eviction from her rent-free Zone 1 flat if she didn’t keep supplying him with illicit information.
When watching it you’d be forgiven for thinking that the “Home” channel had branched out into scripted drama, but I totally get what Horowitz is doing.
Realistically cops and investigators of that age wouldn’t be able to afford their own places (especially not in London), and considering that this show is aimed at a younger audience it makes sense for him to appeal to one of their primary concerns (with rents and house prices rising further out of young people’s reach every month).
The question is whether this overt property theme comes across as a bit too try-hard, a bit too “down with the kids” and not in keeping with the rest of the programme’s tone, which is basically your average procedural thriller with a lighter touch.
Personally I find it quite endearing (it’s at least a slightly different approach to crime writing if everyone’s worried about fixed term mortgages), but I could see why some might find it patronising or downright weird.
And I think I can safely say that in a series featuring brainwashing, a duo of sharply-dressed female Irish assassins, magic psychedelic drugs and a multi-story jump into a swimming pool, it’s the property angle that comes up with the most implausible scenario of all at the end of episode three – two low-paid government workers having enough money to get a mortgage and a two-bedroom house together in London.
That’s just about enough to reclass this crime drama as fantasy.
New Blood episodes 1-3 are available on iPlayer now, and the series airs on BBC1 tonight (Thursday 9th June) at 9pm