“Bloody hell Bollly knickers – who was that shirtlifter you were with?” and “This is the North, son, we do what we like”. This is how Philip Glenister sounds when he sleeps. He will forever be associated with Gene Hunt, the impolitically incorrect ¹ Detective Constable from such shows as Life on Mars and the follow-up Ashes to Ashes with sidekick Squealey Nause. But he was an actor before Life on Mars and he’ll be an actor after Gashes to Gashes and in Hidden he plays schmuck solicitor Harry Venn – avoiding any kind of glamorous clients or job satisfaction a speciality. But all that seems to change when a smoking hot ladylawyer walks into his office and requests his services. Gina Hawkes (Thekla Reuten) is the name and being a classy foreign legal fox is the game. She mentions a name: Joe Collins. Harry is all “oh” because this Joe Collins is part of his seedy, shady, degradey criminal past.
Criminal past? But he’s a solicitor – how is such a thing possible? In flashbacks, we see young Harry as the getaway driver for a heist gone wrong with some hella mean looking dudes who shot a copper or two in the process. They weren’t the only ones catching a bullet. Harry’s brother Mark was shot and killed along with a scrote called Hillman. Fair enough, he got away with it, turned his life around and can practice law freely. Dead brother is dead; the past is the past, just make clumsy sexual advances to foxy lawyer, get rejected, go home and get on with your life, H.
Dead brother is dead; the past is the past, just make clumsy sexual advances to foxy lawyer, get rejected, go home and get on with your life, H.
But maybe it’s not that simple. It’s crazy as crazy gets but Joe Collins reckons that Harry’s brother is still alive. Alive? You heard: alive. Hillman, too. Harry visits the idiot in jail and tells him to can it – why, his own father identified the body himself. It’s balls, that’s all it is: BALLS. And yet something is not right. He can’t quite shake the feeling. He’s got to know the truth. Whether Harry is a truth handler of course is a question this show will rush to answer but much like Jack Nicholson in Chinatown or Michael Caine in Get Carter the need for closure is an itch he can’t help but scratch.
In an impressive piece of prescience, Harry’s detective work takes place against a backdrop of coalition government, social unrest and riots. You can only imagine writer Ronan Bennett‘s joy when London imploded into a conflagration unheard-of since 1666. Naturally enough the conspiracy involving his dead/not dead brother has some kind of connection to the hated coalition government and just like the real hated coalition government it will all end appallingly in recrimination, bloodshed and tainted semen.
Naturally enough the conspiracy involving his dead/not dead brother has some kind of connection to the hated coalition government and just like the real hated coalition government it will all end appallingly in recrimination, bloodshed and tainted semen.
Will it change TV drama forever? Fuck no. But that’s OK. I’m fine with Gene Hunt as snarly, gnarly no-nonsense solicitor Harry Venn and Blow Collins, Gina Dawkes – I wave them through the gate too. If you can’t get past that Philip Glenister isn’t exactly playing against type here then it won’t work for you but consider this: being a one trick pony ain’t so bad when most actors don’t even have a trick to their name.
The verdict: Hidden was bidden – it was better than midden.
Marks out of 10: 7
¹ Cf Wayne Carr’s interview with Peter Stringfellow