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Tuesday, 16 October 2018

REVIEW: BBC1's Informer introduces a charismatic lead.


The BBC One drama Informer kick-starts its six-episode suspenseful series with its first episode entitled No Sleep till Brooklyn. Set in East London, the new thriller opens on a transit pulling in to West India Key Station, where an unidentified woman accidentally leaves her phone on her seat as she exits. A young man notices the phone and begins to run after her, he finds her in a nearby café and the grateful woman offers to buy the young man a coffee as a reward. The sedate scene comes to an abrupt end as gunmen burst through the doors and our polite young man is shot dead.  The episode then cuts to an ambiguous court hearing where we first meet the character of DS Gabe Waters (Paddy Considine) being questioned by a judge, where the episode then flashes back to a year prior to the court hearing.


Here’s where we meet Raza Shar (newcomer Nabhaan Rizwan) who is of Pakistani descent. A seemingly well-put-together young lad who packs boxes for a living. I found Raza instantly likeable. Whether he's bailing his brother out of trouble in school or his resourceful way of removing the badge from his brother’s school blazer to wear on a night out Raza has a cocky self-assured aspect to his character that helps to make him believable.  Behind the bravado, Raza is an ordinary man whose family live in a council house. He acquires drugs from his downstairs neighbour via a small bucket and string. He places the bucket over a rat which is scurrying harmlessly across the wall. Unknown to Raza he may have more in common with the animal than he thought.

Things take a shocking turn for the worst as Raza, an enticing character with his charismatic attitude and resourcefulness has a mishap involving giving MDMA to a girl in a club- who has a bad reaction to the drug, although being the supplier Raza does the right thing and takes the girl to the hospital, he is immediately searched and arrested upon arrival for possession.


It's at this point that we reach the crux of what Informer is actually back. Razza is being watched by Gabe (the man we saw in that mysterious court scene) and DC Holly Morten (Bel Powley) after her abrupt and awkward introduction as Gabe’s new partner working as a counter-terrorism officer. Gabe is an officer with a mysterious past and non-official antics with Holly appearing to be the classic go-getter wanting the approval of her co-workers and boss DCI Rose Asante (Sharon D Clarke). Holly immediately racially profiles Raza who is communicating with a young lad who we later find out is Dadir Hassan (Roger Jean Nsengiyumva). Hassan is the younger brother of one of Gabe’s sources, who is later shot, in association to the newspaper headline stated earlier in London’s Counter-Terrorism Special Unit Ahmed El Adoua Dead: up to 8 Militants Killed.

Things don’t get any better for Raza who is held in a cell for another 24 hours after Gabe deems him deemed a ‘Flight Risk'. Gabe has an ulterior motive for keeping Raza behind bars. Eager Holly has discovered that Razza's mum (Sunetra Sarker) is in the UK on an expired visa. Gabe uses this to blackmail Razza into becoming his new undercover informant.  Towards the end of the episode, the identity of the woman in the café (Jessica Raine) is revealed. She's Gabe’s wife Emily. Did she really forget her phone, or was it a ploy to lead the young man to his death? Parallel to this Raza finally allowed home, to lift up the small bucket to find the rodent dead, conveying a sad expression in the realisation that this could be his fate as he takes on the new role of ratting people out.

The episode leaves us with many questions in regards to the fate of the multitude of characters introduced throughout this perplexing first episode, which brings to light the unfortunate situations in relation to race and class to the character of Raza; who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Much like its lead character, Informer oozes style and I was certainly left wanting more.

Contributed by Georgia Whelan

Informer Continues Tuesday at 9.00pm on BBC One

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I thought this was excellent, and I hope it keeps up this high standard throughout. Nabhaan Rizwan was extraordinarily good for an actor in his first ever TV role. Each time the security services and police thwart a terrorist attack I've found myself wondering about the informants on whom I'm sure they must rely quite heavily, and I'm really glad to see a drama focusing on one. Love the complexity of the plot that means you can't follow it with one eye on the screen and one on your mobile. It actually forces you to concentrate and make an effort! So far the writing is spot on, as is the street language. Someone either has a lot of personal knowledge or has done a lot of very thorough research. Bravo!

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