mon 15/07/2024

The Turkish Detective, BBC Two review - a bad business in the Bosphorus | reviews, news & interviews

The Turkish Detective, BBC Two review - a bad business in the Bosphorus

The Turkish Detective, BBC Two review - a bad business in the Bosphorus

Barbara Nadel's Inspector Ikmen novels reach the screen

Murder most confusing: Ayse (Yasemin Kay Allen), Mehmet (Ethan Kai) and Inspector Ikmen (Haluk Bilginer)

Any show making its debut in the midst of Wimbledon and the Euro-football, plus a spectacular performance by Lewis Hamilton at Silverstone, is likely to be gasping for air, and BBC Two’s ditzy new cop series didn’t so much charge out of the blocks as trip over them. Masterminded by Ben Schiffer, the eight-part series is based on Barbara Nadel’s Inspector Ikmen novels, which are much loved by their readers.

I wouldn’t bet on them feeling the same about the TV version. The plot-driving device is the arrival in Istanbul of Detective Mehmet Suleyman (Ethan Kai from Killing Eve), who finds himself falling under the eccentric wing of Inspector Cetin Ikmen (Haluk Bilginer). Ikmen is a grizzled veteran who doesn’t do things by the book but does them his own way, unlike, for example, Maigret, Luther, Sherlock Holmes, Rebus, Sarah Lund, Jack Regan and virtually every other detective on television. Suleyman is returning to his Turkish roots having grown up in the UK, where he’s been serving with the Met in London, where they apparently thought his name and his face didn’t fit. Conveniently for the Anglophone viewer, Suleyman’s new Turkish colleagues all want him to converse in English (pictured below, Dilan Gwynn as Leyla with Mehmet and Ayse).The Turkish Detective, BBC TwoEverything felt a little bit out of whack. Suleyman was picked up at the airport by what seemed to be a rather eccentric cab driver, but this turned out to be Ikmen. With straggly white hair and beard, Ikmen is a little reminiscent of Tchéky Karyo’s Julien Baptiste, though he lacks the latter’s hint of existential darkness. When Ikmen stopped to speak to a friendly cafe-owner, gung-ho Suleyman gauchely tried to arrest the latter for drug dealing. Rather than taking Suleyman to a hotel to drop off his luggage, brush his teeth and grab a quick squirt of Brut, Ikmen just took him to the police station like it was any other day.

Before he knew it, Suleyman was examining the corpse of a murdered student called Gözde and we were off on a plot that lurched all over the place. Potential killers included Gözde’s fiance, the wealthy entrepreneur Mesut Calak, or a boyfriend called Kemal. According to the victim’s father Cahit, she’d been “whoring herself” to Kemal, but it also looked as if her dad had been beating her with a leather belt. Maybe he killed her, because he had an interest in her sticking with the rich bloke?

Meanwhile there’s a side-plot concerning Leyla, a journalist and ex-girlfriend of Suleyman who’s been a hit-and-run victim and has lost her memory, and a crazed computer geek who wants to blow everybody up. As for Ikmen, he slowly potters about and talks to people in a very quiet voice, whereupon they give him nuggets of priceless information.

The best things about the show are the touristy views of Istanbul, with its epic harbour views, fascinating architecture and lots of stray cats. Otherwise it’s a bit of a dog’s breakfast.

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