Critics and history are not generally kind to ITV. I will admit, it has rarely kept pace with the BBC on comedy. To put that into personal context, the last comedy shows I routinely watched from that channel were Spitting Image and Hale and Pace (underrated, and never properly recognised as the true kings of cruelty to animals comedy). That was 30 fucking years ago.
Still, their drama, especially their crime drama, has always been pretty good. I am presently watching Prime Suspect, something I’ve seen before but tends to get wiped with about a decade of solid intoxification. I remember very little of it. Fuck me, what a show.
They filmed tons of it outside, which immediately gives you the cars and the period in volumes. It’s chock full of actors that went on to become huge stars. Let’s do the list. Helen Mirren. Zoe Wanamaker. Ralph Fiennes. Colin Salmon. Peter Capaldi. David Thewlis. A very young Danny Dyer. Ciaran Hinds. And that’s just series 1-3, and just people that went onto much bigger things. You’ll likely recognise every mug in the lineup if you’ve watched British telly since.
It’s difficult to watch this show and not retrospectively think it a bit of genius, and have a bit of respect for the way they go about things. When they decide to do something, they throw a shitload of money at it and execute properly. We’ve had nowt much to laugh about since Spitting Image went off the air, the channel somewhat unwisely choosing to funnel all humour through the prism of Ant and Dec.
By fuck, Prime Suspect is amazing. Might do Cracker next.