Robbie Coltrane has spent so long away from television one could imagine him sitting with a glass of whisky beside a roaring fire, throwing script after script into the flames until he found something really special, as cracking as Cracker.
Sadly, the return of his large frame to the small screen came in a drama that only kicked in during the final minutes – but then fell apart again when a risible As If That Would Happen moment occurred which doesn’t bode well for the concluding episode, either.
Glaswegian juries may have been convinced by Coltrane’s Jack Lennox QC – an advocate who was more Rumpled than Rumpole – but viewers won’t have been. The Planman lacked a plausible plot and plausible characters (except Vincent Regan’s bent cop). Lennox, we are led to believe, is fed up with defending criminals whose idea of planning is a boozy night at the pub, so he devises perfect crimes on their behalf, selflessly giving away his cut to charity.
Running parallel to his secret involvement in crime was his ambitious politician wife’s public involvement in fighting crime, along with an ambitious senior policeman. (They were, of course, also sleeping together – something Lennox’s brilliant mind failed to suss). Celia Imrie and Neil Dudgeon, in these supporting roles, failed to shine. Not a lot did.
In a hamfisted but handy twist, Lennox, the master of tiny details, somehow left the plans of the crimes easily accessible in his office. Cop spots them after sleeping with wife. So it’s comeuppance time in episode two.
Just to make The Planman extra annoying was the use of front page newspaper headlines to help move the plodding story along. Any sub-editor who came up with “Daring Edinburgh Bank Raid” and “Glasgow Bank Tunnel Job” would have had been out on their ear. Surely the writer Stuart Hepburn knows that every decent headline requires a verb. And every decent TV drama needs more than just a big name and an intriguing premise.