sat 20/07/2024

The Capture, BBC One review - gripping drama about the surveillance society | reviews, news & interviews

The Capture, BBC One review - gripping drama about the surveillance society

The Capture, BBC One review - gripping drama about the surveillance society

Ben Chanan's tale is bang-up-to-the-minute

Rachel Carey (Holliday Grainger) is the detective investigating the crime Shaun Emery (Callum Turner) is accused of

Ben Chanan's The Capture (BBC One), which he wrote and directed, is a bang-up-to-the-minute dystopian thriller about the increasingly surveilled society we live in.

In last night’s opening episode of six, he set out his stall from the first frame, where the bored staff in a CCTV control room were doing routine scans of the neighbourhood, until one of them saw a violent crime taking place in which a soldier attacked a woman in the street.

Then we flashed back several hours to see the soldier, Shaun Emery (Callum Turner), winning his appeal against his conviction for murdering an insurgent in Afghanistan, because of flawed video evidence. After celebrating, he shared a kiss with the woman on the CCTV, his barrister (Laura Haddock), who had since disappeared.

Emery’s backstory was also sketched in: he is separated from the mother of his young daughter, with whom, it’s clear, he has some work to do in re-establishing a relationship, and he lives with his grandfather, with no parents in the picture – who knows if this will be pertinent at some point...

In fast-moving events that I suspect would have real-life police officers scornfully shouting “If only!” at their screens, the young detective assigned to the case, DI Rachel Carey (Holliday Grainger), was able to call on the seemingly infinite resources of the counter-terrorism unit she had been seconded from to identify the soldier and his victim from facial-recognition software and the huge databank that is held – entirely legally - on UK citizens.

Chanan cleverly revealed the CCTV footage to us in increments, and at the end we saw Emery viewing it and strenuously denying the assault – and very convincing he was too. But wasn't that a smirk we had seen earlier when he won his case?

Here's the thing, though. Why make a six-part whodunit in which we know by the end of the first episode the who, the dun and the it? But that's not The Capture's USP; rather the question Chanan poses here is, in an era of fake news, can we believe the evidence of our own eyes any more?

The Capture has been described as this year’s Bodyguard and, like that political thriller, has some annoying clichés. Carey is the sort of cop who’s plain-speaking to the point of rudeness and is a brilliant fast-tracked graduate who has never been in uniform (amusingly described by colleagues as a “draft dodger”). And of course she's having an affair with her married former commander (Ben Miles in silver fox mode). 

I do hope The Capture avoids Bodyguard’s fate of starting as a cracking watch and then descending to scarcely believable fantasy. But it's already gripping and I'll tune in next week as Carey searches for the victim.


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