sun 23/02/2020

Cobra, Sky 1 review - entertaining mix of political mischief and cosmic chaos | reviews, news & interviews

Cobra, Sky 1 review - entertaining mix of political mischief and cosmic chaos

Cobra, Sky 1 review - entertaining mix of political mischief and cosmic chaos

Robert Carlyle's Tory prime minister battles internal and external crises

Doom watch: Victoria Hamilton as Anna Marshall, Robert Carlyle as Robert Sutherland

If nothing else, you’d want to tune in to Cobra (Sky 1) for its cast. Robert Carlyle is steely and decisive as Prime Minister Robert Sutherland, his indispensable fixer Anna Marshall is played by Victoria “Queen Mother” Hamilton, and David Haig oozes bullying malevolence as Home Secretary Archie Glover-Morgan. Solid support from Lucy Cohu and Richard Dormer adds up to a substantial thespathon.

Whether the story, penned by Spooks and The Tunnel writer Ben Richards, will carry us convincingly to the finishing tape remains to be seen, but this opener was an amusing blend of political knife-sharpening and Essence of Disaster Movie. The story so far: boffins have detected the approach of “extreme space weather”, consisting of solar emanations and plasma blasts which can potentially destroy communications satellites and wreak havoc with the world’s power supplies. PM Sutherland has convened his Cobra committee to organise the UK’s response. Nobody will know until the last minute how bad the crisis will be, depending on whether the magnetic orientation of the solar blasts will be “hot south” (bad) or “frozen north” (harmless). As Dormer’s character Fraser Walker puts it, it can either “fuse a few kettles or send us back to the stone age.”

David Haig in Cobra (Sky 1)Obviously there wouldn’t be much of a drama if the solar onslaught was no worse than misplacing your car keys, so you can guess which way the coin falls. Even without the calamity and catastrophe though, there’s enough going on within the corridors of Westminster to keep the politicos scurrying about frantically. A leak to the Daily Telegraph about a government split on immigration policy prompted Ms Marshall to sack the leaker, Dominic Knight, with peremptory brutality (with the PM adding for good measure that Knight should leave the building by the public entrance). Knight was a close ally of the poisonous Archie (pictured above), so the pair of them are now plotting revenge.

The PM’s joy at his daughter Ellie graduating from Liverpool University was abruptly soured when she celebrated with an all-night drug-taking party which left her best friend Georgia in a coma, opening up the awkward prospect of a police investigation. And Anna’s past experiences as a journalist covering the Bosnian war have come back to haunt her with the reappearance of her Balkan translator Edin, with whom she evidently had a relationship which stretched beyond the professional (pictured below, Richard Dormer).

Richard Dormer in Cobra (Sky 1)All of this may become irrelevant as Armageddon rains down from above, and episode one’s unpleasantly realistic air crash on the A1 could be just the tip of a catastrophe-tsunami. But ironically it might be better if the disaster aspect wasn’t the show’s all-consuming focus, since Richards has set up some promising clashes and character-interactions. The fact that he’s chosen to depict a Conservative government not entirely unsympathetically (rather daring in luvvie-PC world) has opened up space for Archie’s curmudgeonly grumblings about “virtue-signalling ponces”, while Anna notes that her own children think “we’re still the nasty party which hates animals and refugees while favouring tax dodgers”. Meanwhile Anna mischievously chides her friend Francine, a former Labour MP, for sending her son to a fee-paying school (“I didn’t change my principles!” she protests). More Yes Prime Minister and less Towering Inferno required, perhaps.

This opener was an amusing blend of political knife-sharpening and Essence of Disaster Movie

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Explore topics

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters