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Writer/producer Jed Mercurio’s new police drama started a five-week run on BBC2 last night. Centred around an award-winning policeman, DCI Tony Gates, played by Lennie James, who is being investigated by AC-12, a fictional anti-corruption unit, there are no black and white issues only shades of grey – possibly more than 50.

Young Scottish actor Martin Compston plays DS Steve Arnott, an ambitious officer who is transferred to AC-12 when an anti-terrorism raid goes tragically wrong. Arnott’s ambivalence over his new role is soon left behind as he is drawn to the charismatic DCI Gates. Is Gates really corrupt or is he to be the scapegoat for a police service trying to clean up its act?

Gates meanwhile is trying to cover up a hit and run accident that resulted in the death of a man. The driver was Gates’s lover, Jackie Laverty, played by Gina McKee, who was drunk at the time of the accident. Laverty seems weak and clinging but McKee gives subtle hints that there is more to Jackie than even Gates is aware of.

Compston’s English accent does occassionally stray into Dick Van Dyke, cor blimey guv’nor, territory but Arnott’s despair over the raid gone wrong is writ large in his sad, dark eyes. Lennie James makes for likeable but morally ambiguous lead, while Adrian Dunbar is excellent as Superintendent Ted Hastings, head of AC-12 and the man out to expose Gates. Neil Morrissey shows what a good straight actor he is playing DC Morton, one of Gates’s loyal henchmen, and the always watchable Vicky McClure plays DC Kate Fleming, an AC-12 undercover officer who is set the task of infiltrating Gates’s team.

A strong first episode that lays the groundwork for a compelling serial.