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The Escape Artist, BBC1 - TV review


He’s currently garnering impressive reviews as the RSC’s long-haired Richard II and preparing to reprise his Broadchurch role in the US, but David Tennant hasn’t abandoned British television just yet.

In The Escape Artist, a new three-part legal thriller written by Spooks creator David Wolstencroft, Tennant played Will Burton, a defence barrister renowned for his ability to explain away even the most damning evidence. Burton doesn’t judge, he only defends, but his professional detachment was last night challenged on two counts: Maggie Gardner (Sophie Okonedo), a rival barrister with a flirtatious look in her eye, and Liam Foyle (Toby Kebbell), a disquietingly confident young man charged with the ritual murder of a young woman.

Still, at least everything at home was going well, right? Will had a lovely wife (Ashley Jensen, like Tennant, using her native Scottish accent) a lovely son, and two lovely houses; a swish apartment in town and a cosy house in the country. Both properties benefitted from those large curtain-less windows, ideal for creepy serial killer types to peer in at night.

Anyone who remembers Toby Kebbell answering the phone in his Y-fronts as Rob Gretton in the Joy Division film Control (2007) won’t be surprised at the energetic menace he brings to the role of Foyle. The only question is whether this is the role that will allow the 2009 Bafta Rising Star nominee’s star to finally rise. Probably not, but what The Escape Artist lacked in original characters, it made up for in scares. Even in this scene-setting episode, there were enough jumpy moments to have you hiding your eyes behind a sofa cushion and nervously counting down the hours till episode two.

David Tennant in the jumpy 'The Escape Artist'