Cuffs is BBC One’s first new 8pm drama in eight years, but it's an 8pm drama with a difference.
When you think of an 8pm drama you probably think of Holby City or Waterloo Road, or even The Bill and the one thing they all have in common is that in all honesty, not a lot happens and they can be accused of playing it safe as they have to adhere to so many rules pre-watershed.
So the other week when I attended the screening of Cuffs, I expected more of the same, a light cop drama set in Brighton. Instead what I saw was what felt like a 9pm drama but happened to be on at 8pm. It’s fast-paced, full of action and very real.
The series is written by the wonderful Julie Gearey (Prisoners’ Wives), and opens with a stunning ariel shot that shows Brighton off in all its glory, before zooming into an incident on a nudist beach. Nudity at 8pm. I told you this wasn’t your average 8pm drama.
One of the main reasons this is such a great drama is that the characters are fully rounded and not just there to serve a purpose. Towards the end of the first episode it's evident that there's a lot more to these characters than we initially think. The true definition of an ensemble piece.
Ashley Walters (Top Boy) plays PC Ryan Draper, who in the first episode is tasked with looking after PC Jake Vickers, played by newcomer Jacob Ifan, a new rookie cop who just so happens to be the boss’ son.
Jake is an openly gay policeman, but don’t jump to any conclusions. This isn’t a problem for him, it never has been. His family are supportive, his workmates are supportive and he’s never felt the need to hide his sexuality. A refreshing take on homosexuality on television.
Jake wants to follow in his father’s footsteps but being the new guy, and everyone knowing the reason you’ve been given this job is because of your father, isn’t easy.
It’s fair to say he has a tough opening episode, but he doesn’t take anything for granted. He wants to work, he wants to learn and wants Ryan to respect him as well as prove himself to the rest of his new colleagues.
Amanda Abbington plays DS Jo Moffat, a brilliant detective who is very dedicated to her job, does everything by the books, and gets results. Her dedication to her job is almost certainly a cover up for her personal life, a life where she’s lonely, divorced and only has her Alsatian for company.
To make matters worse, she has a very interesting relationship with Chief Superintendent Robert Vickers (Peter Sullivan), aka the big boss. What started off a no strings attached arrangement into something much uglier.
Robert’s affair with Jo has come about through his struggle coping with his wife’s cancer diagnosis. He’s always been able to separate his personal and professional lives however with the affair with Jo and his son joining the force, the cracks could be about to show.
Other members of the ensemble include PC Donna Prager (Eleanor Matsuura) and PC Lino Moratti, who very much come as a team.
She’s a brilliant, dependable police officer who thrives off the adrenaline of the chase. Lino on the other hand is somewhat of the joker in the team, loved by everyone, there’s nothing he loves more than a bit of banter which gets the team going.
The pair work really well together, but Lino’s fitness levels constantly threaten their relationship. Unfortunately his love for food isn’t welcome in a career where fitness is a core requirement.
And finally there’s DC Carl Hawkins (Shaun Dooley) and DI Fèlix (Paul Ready). Carl loves the thrill that comes with being a cop whilst Felix is introverted, secretive and more of a misfit.
One of the biggest things I took away from watching Cuffs, was that the Police really deserve to be admired for what they have to go through. And speaking at the screening, Ashley Walters, who himself has been in trouble with the law in the past, said he had always been “a bit stand offish about the police” but having spent time with them in preparation for the series, he has a new found respect for them.
I’ve been fortunate enough to watch the first couple of episodes, and honestly it just gets better and better, as in each episode we get to find out a little bit more about the private lives of our main characters. Also what I love is the way that each episode gets darker and darker the closer it gets to 9pm, so when it does get to 9pm you don’t want to stop watching.