thu 07/12/2023

Kidnap and Ransom, ITV1 | reviews, news & interviews

Kidnap and Ransom, ITV1

Kidnap and Ransom, ITV1

Trevor Eve is gritty and grizzled as hostage negotiator Dominic King

Dominic King (Trevor Eve) is distressed to find that he's just rescued a corpse

Notwithstanding his regrettable central role in the recent remake of Bouquet of Barbed Wire, Trevor Eve is an actor who has improved vastly with age. Once cursed with a kind of shiny smugness, the 21st-century Eve is rougher round the edges and indelibly lined with decades of thespian rough'n'tumble.

Best of all, he now exhibits a hard, lethal streak, painstakingly honed by a decade of digging up mouldering corpses in Waking the Dead.

In the first part of ITV's new three-parter, Kidnap and Ransom, Eve (who's an executive producer on the project) stepped into the expensive shoes of hostage negotiator Dominic King with an air of determination modified by harsh experience. Evidently King, who works for hostage-retrieval specialists Beddoes King Associates, is good at this sort of thing and has done plenty of it, but the episode opened on a cautionary note.

King was in a remote spot in the Bolivian Andes, handing over a $150,000 ransom in exchange for a hostage called Mark Turner. Unfortunately Turner proved to be dead on delivery, but the mob-handed and heavily armed kidnappers saw no reason why that should prevent them from collecting the ransom money anyway. It was "just business", leered the kidnapper-in-chief, leaving King to explain to the distraught Turner family why they'd forked out a small fortune for a corpse.

When he returned to his family and delightful home deep in rural England, it was clear that this rare experience of failure had left King feeling all shook up. There was a sense of a mid-life crisis coming to the boil, not assuaged when his wife Sophie (Natasha Little) suggested that she felt it was time he stopped running around the world mucking about with life-or-death situations and lent some assistance to her own efforts to build a career in politics.

naomi_smallHe reacted to this as if she'd just served up hand grenades in sulphuric sauce for dinner, but there wasn't much time to dwell on it before the main business of the evening kicked into action. Down in South Africa's Western Cape, botanist Naomi Shaffer (Emma Fielding), working at the new Helding Pharmaceuticals plant, was kidnapped by a couple of masked gunmen (pictured right). In a flash, Eve was back in action, trying to reassure Shaffer's skeptical husband Philip (Patrick Baladi) that everything was under control while haggling with the hysterical kidnappers over a Skype connection.

Though it looked for a moment as if his short-tempered brusqueness had got poor Mrs Shaffer killed, when the smoke cleared it emerged that King had accurately assessed the class of villain he was dealing with (amateurish and snuffling around at the bottom of the food chain, basically). Indeed, with the episode only seconds away from the closing credits, it looked as if King had pulled it off and secured Mrs Shaffer's release. Then suddenly the ante was sensationally upped by a new team of über-kidnappers, who burst onto the scene with guns blazing and whisked away both Mrs Shaffer and the loot in a flotilla of four-by-four vehicles. Drat and triple drat, as Dick Dastardly might have put it.

Not the world's most original plot perhaps, and considerably indebted to the Russell Crowe movie Proof of Life, but K'n'R works because it gives the story and characterisations time to breathe, and with help from some pungently atmospheric locations, it feels textured and cinematic in a way that television usually doesn't. It's enough to make you wonder why we haven't seen more of Trevor Eve on the big screen.

King had accurately assessed the class of villain he was dealing with (amateurish and snuffling around at the bottom of the food chain, basically)

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