His name might be up there on the screen, but DCI Banks (Stephen Tompkinson) rather faded into the background in this series three opener. That's because with DI Helen Morton (Caroline Catz) now a regular team member and DS Annie Cabbot (Andrea Lowe) also back from maternity leave, the oestrogen levels at Eastvale police station had just gone through the roof. So, this episode of DCI Banks went out to all the ladeez and, more specifically, the ladeez with children.
Mother A was Katy, who reported her tearaway 11-year-old missing, after a couple posing as social workers abducted him. One of these phony social workers was played by the grim-faced character actor Geoff Bell, so you can quite understand her distress – as one witness commented, "He didn't look like a social worker to me, more like a nightclub bouncer." Katy was played by Christine Bottomley, an actress who looked confusingly like Mother B aka DS Cabbot. Lucky for us, workplace discrimination meant new mother Cabbot had been demoted away from the frontline, so the two rarely shared a screen.
Mother C, DI Morton, isn't in the original Inspector Alan Banks books, so kudos to screenwriter Robert Murphy for using the character to add dimension to the plot. We saw Morton early in the episode at home with her four sons and when Banks later instructed her to spend time with Mother A, it was clear he was hoping some mum-to-mum bonding would occur. However, like a poor man's Saga from The Bridge, DI Morton is constitutionally incapable of such things. She was much better at accusatory growls, such as "Your 11-year old son gambles, for God's sake!"
In this episode, everybody thought everybody else was a bad mother and told them so. Watching Mothers A-C harangue one another was certainly more interesting than anything DCI Banks did. It seems with each passing series Tompkinson's mildly maverick cop is reverting gradually to type: that nice-guy priest from Ballykissangel.