“Did you see ‘Hunted’ last night?!”

If we still had watercooler moments when we talked about last night’s tv, then I think ‘Hunted’ would be one of those shows. I didn’t want to watch it; I’m still annoyed that the last episode of ‘Good Cop’ hasn’t been shown on Thursday nights, and I’ve got so many programmes I’m watching at the moment that I didn’t want to add a new one. But come Thursday night, 9pm, BBC1, I just had to check it out. And it was gripping. Really surprising for a BBC drama about spies. Not as pedestrian as ‘Spooks’ – although ‘Spooks’ was really good sometimes – this was proper drama in the US film mode.

Melissa George is ‘Sam’, a private specials operative who is left for dead, but one year later comes back to her ‘spy’ team. There’s her lover – who either did or didn’t betray her; the boss (Stephen Dillane) who taught her everything; three other team members and a new guy. One of them had set her up, and now she’s back she’s still in danger. But it doesn’t matter because in the last year she’s taught herself to breathe under water, run up mountains and sleep in corners. Because she’s not just traumatised by her near death experience, the loss of an unborn child and the possible betrayal of her lover or boss or friend, but she’s also having flashbacks to her childhood and the revelation that her mother was murdered in a petrol station by two shady men – so many issues!

I remember Melissa George from Home and Away, but she can actually act! She has a dodgy English accent – or at least I think it’s meant to be an English accent; it’s rather confusing. Her fake American accent, to my ears, seems much better. There are the usual implausibilites – who in London, or anywhere in the UK, can go to a viewing for a flat and then move in immediately; what about credit and personal references? And then there’s the cliche of the board where she’s put pictures of all her suspects up, with relevant newspaper cuttings, and all joined up with drawing pins and a long piece of string. Who really uses a piece of string to join up suspects or clues other than people on telly?

There is one identifiable villain. A guy who murdered a Dutch extra with a needle in his eye. Yes, they actually showed the needle in the eye – no cutaways by this director. And though Sam is now back at work, the case she’s working on appears to be connected to her attempted murder. I hope so, as I don’t want the show to descend into a procedural. Keep up the suspense and this could be a great series.

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