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Gripping look at 60s Soho; Best of this week's TV This slick police drama follows the lives of mismatched coppers forced to clamp down on clip joints - with disastrous results HE KILLS COPPERS SUNDAY, STV,9pm.

Four years ago the BBC scored a hit with its adaptation of Jake Arnott's epic crime saga set in Sixties London, The Long Firm.

Now it is time for ITV to get its own back.

Rafe Spall (son of Timothy) Mel Raido, Kelly Reilly (from Joe's Palace), Liam Garrigan and Maureen Lipman head the cast of this utterly gripping follow-up, which somehow slipped through the BBC's fingers.

He Kills Coppers takes us right back to the seedy streets of Soho in 1966, though this time the three-part series sprawls over three decades.

The starting point is a clean-up operation of Soho's notorious clip joints - places where punters were taken for a ride in more ways than one, though never in the way they hoped for.

Writer Jake Arnott got the idea that launched his novel when he stumbled across an old newspaper clipping telling how a Soho top cop had indeed instigated just such a cleanup to prevent punters being fleeced as they flocked to London for the 1966 World Cup.

Rafe Spall and Liam Garrigan play Frank Taylor and Jon Young, the first being an ambitious, manipulative, toadying and yet basically decent copper who loves the job and is desperate to pursue his fast-track progression to the Flying Squad.

Young is more the thinking person's detective, handsome, incorruptible, and unwilling to hobnob with the dodgy coppers who were commonly on the take in 60s Soho.

The two detectives are old friends but their ill-matched partnership patrolling the streets of sin is immediately compromised by their first encounter with beautiful prostitute Jeannie (Kelly Reilly), an intelligent, poised redhead with an unflappable dignity despite her dubious choice of profession.

Both detectives seem to fall for her, and it's not hard to see why.

The web that connects these three also takes in ruthless armed robber Billy Porter (Raido), whose devotion to his thoroughly decent mum (Lipman) is his one saving grace, and ambitious Fleet Street reporter Tony Meehan (Scots actor Steven Robertson), who may just turn out to be the nastiest villain of the lot.

Odd that author Arnott should name his ruthless reporter after the former drummer with The Shadows who went on to have a number one with ex-Shadows bassist Jet Harris, but there we are.

When Porter is put into a tight corner and ruthlessly kills three coppers, the fates of all the surviving characters become irrevocably intertwined over the next two decades.

It's utterly gripping stuff, impeccably acted and directed and probably destined to win at least as many awards as its BBC predecessor.

CAPTION(S):

COP THAT... Frank and Jon both fall for beautiful prostitute Jeannie; TEAM WORK... (L to R) Billy, Frank, Jeannie, Jon and Tony
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 22, 2008
Words:451
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