Last Night's Viewing: Kidnap and Ransom, ITV1<br />Pramface, BBC3


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The Independent Culture

Kidnap and Ransom began with one of those promissory notes that thrillers are so fond of these days. You saw Trevor Eve in a rowing boat on a lake heaving a body into the waters (he didn't seem unduly worried that anyone might see him). And then a title card reading "Two Weeks Earlier" whisked us back to a bustling Indian city. It was an IOU, essentially, one crucial point being that the exact amount owed is never revealed too early. We don't know who's wrapped in the hessian sacking, or even whether Trevor had anything to do with the fact that he or she isn't in a position to complain about it. We just know that if we stick around for long enough payment will be made. And since there are only three episodes to Michael Crompton's hostage drama, that's not a huge amount to ask.

The bustling city is Srinigar in Kashmir, where Trevor, a hostage negotiator, is in the final stages of securing the release of an Anglo-Indian family. He's very relaxed about his job, by the look of things, playing a leisurely game of chess as the final phone-calls come in. But then something goes wrong just after the handover, and the surviving kidnappers commandeer a tourist bus in their desperate attempt to escape. By happy coincidence, for the writer at least, the daughter of a senior Foreign Office official is on the bus, though her identity for the moment is not common know-ledge (her one-night-stand didn't know her surname name and just stuck her on the roster as his wife).

While he doesn't know that his daughter is involved the chap from the FO takes the official line. No negotiations with terrorists; Indian government perfectly capable of handling this domestic matter without external interference. He might have taken a different view if he could have seen what we did, because the Indian operation appears to be a complete shambles. For one thing, they let Trevor Eve – indistinguishable from a passing tourist as far as they're concerned – saunter around the besieged bus at will. He also spends quite a bit of time racking up the roaming charges on his mobile, thanks to a complicated home life that features a wife who is about to leave him (Natasha Little) and a colleague who may be on the point of joining him (Helen Baxendale). And both women, for reasons I couldn't quite work out, appear to be able to waltz in and out of the Foreign Office at will. I'm beginning to wonder a little about that IOU, but what are you going to do? I've got an itch to find out what it's actually worth now.

Pramface, BBC3's new comedy, wants to be The Inbetweeners so much it hurts. It features two callow schoolboys and, a minor twist, a female friend who is superior to both in wit and wisdom and carries a secret torch for the male lead, Jamie. But Jamie hasn't noticed and so, after crashing a post-exam party, loses his virginity to Laura, in a sequence that struck me as being overly generous to those who might get their kicks from watching teenagers have orgasms. If it really was Jamie's first time I doubt that it would have lasted long enough for the montage sequence here, in which his impressively extended gurnings were intercut with the masturbatory grimaces of his friend Michael and Beth's attempts to get out of the room without being noticed. The point of the thing is that posh, sophisticated Laura finds herself pregnant with gauche, ordinary Jamie's baby, so last night was really just a kind of sitcom artificial insemination. But the young actors play it nicely and the script has its moments. "I have to let the women come to me and slightly ignore them... like the horse whisperer," says Michael, whose confidence in his powers of seduction turns out to be wildly misplaced.