tue 16/07/2024

Informer, BBC One review - keeping tabs on terror | reviews, news & interviews

Informer, BBC One review - keeping tabs on terror

Informer, BBC One review - keeping tabs on terror

Going underground with the Confidential Informant Programme

Raza Shar (Nabhaan Rizwan) gets an offer he can't refuse

Thanks heavens not all police officers spend their time trying to find “hate crime” on Twitter, or not going to the assistance of colleagues in peril. Take Gabe Waters, for instance, the central character in BBC One’s new undercover-policier.

Gabe (played with grey-whiskered world-weariness by Paddy Considine) is an anti-terrorist officer, and spends long hours driving round greater London, squeezing his network of shadowy contacts and informers for tips and clues, and ceaselessly trying to recruit new ones. One of these turns out to be Raza Shar, who lives on a council estate with his Pakistani family and leads an unfulfilling life in “domestic shipping” (he packs boxes).

Informer, BBC OneBut at the start of this first episode which encouraged high hopes for the ensuing five, Raza’s fate hadn’t yet been revealed to him. Played with attractive nonchalance by Nabhaan Rizwan, he’s a laid-back dude who’s a dutiful son to his parents, and is alert to the perils of being negatively stereotyped as a Muslim (“don’t freak, I’m a Sikh” is his self-defence mantra). Meanwhile he has plans to strike out on his own. He went for an “audition” with the other occupants of a flat in groovy Shoreditch where there was a room to rent. One of them was a photographer, who told him (with a straight face) that “I use my lens to highlight shifting urban environments”. One of her pictures was called “Young Radicals”, but the Muslim man she thought was handing out inflammatory leaflets was in fact giving away menus for his restaurant. Raza knew this because the picture was of his own neighbourhood (Raza and family, pictured right).

It was a neat illustration of kneejerk cultural pigeonholing, even from someone who would presumably consider themselves tolerant or “progressive”, and indicated the way writers Rory Haines and Sohrab Noshirvani seem to be trying to bring some nuance to a subject too often tackled in crude, banner-waving terms. It was also a clue to the task facing Gabe and his comrades. Without making connections inside the communities where terrorists or their helpers may be hiding, keeping track of them will be impossible.

Gabe’s immediate concern is the suspicion that a terrorist called El Edoua, who masterminded a bombing in Rotterdam, was in London a few months earlier, and may have been laying the ground for an attack locally. Indeed, his contact Yousef (Abubakar Salim) claims he personally saw El Edoua. Since Yousef has suddenly vanished without trace, we know something sinister is in motion.Paddy Considine and Bel Powley in InformerRaza doesn’t (as far as we know) have any extremist connections, but Gabe had a hunch he could be useful. Or more specifically it was Gabe’s new sidekick, Holly Morten (Bel Powley, pictured above with Considine), who looks like a bad-tempered babysitter but seems to have unerring instincts when it comes to the art of detection. “I did warn you she’s no charmer,” said Gabe’s boss, but she was soon displaying precocious gifts for coercion and deception. The way she trapped Raza’s mother into confessing she was an illegal immigrant was a masterpiece of cynical manipulation.

Raza himself was brusquely led up the garden path after getting himself nicked for supplying Ecstasy, which gave Gabe enough leverage to make him an offer he couldn’t find a way to turn down. “I don’t know anything about fucking terrorists, bruv,” he protested, but Gabe assured him that he could soon put that right. Thus he found himself recruited to the Confidential Informant Programme. Let’s hope it’s not a life sentence.

The way she trapped Raza’s mother into confessing she was an illegal immigrant was a masterpiece of cynical manipulation


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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