The Smoke, TV review: Lucy Kirkwood's gritty firefighting drama gets off to a blistering start
Ellen E Jones
Ellen is The Independent's TV critic. She writes a daily review of Last Night's TV and a weekly 'Inside TV' column for the i paper, as well as a column on general topics for the main paper most Wednesdays. Ellen is a former Hollywood correspondent and a contributing editor to Little White Lies, she's written on TV, film, lifestyle, travel and politics for publications including the Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, Esquire and Total Film.
Thursday 20 February 2014
London's Burning, Rescue Me and... er... Fireman Sam? When you consider the range of TV shows set in police stations or A&E wards, it seems their emergency service cousins have been unfairly overlooked by drama. Is there less variety of human experience on show at your typical fire station? Not according to Sky1's enjoyable new ensemble piece, The Smoke.
Jamie Bamber stars as Kev Allison, the gaffer of London's Mile End station, who established his hunky hero credentials early on, by fearlessly rescuing a baby from a tower block inferno. This opening scene was one of the most harrowing 10 minutes of my TV-watching career, so can everyone please make sure to test out the fire-alarm battery at home as soon as possible? Promise? Great, let's move on.
The script by fêted young playwright Lucy Kirkwood was also full of warm moments of the non-third-degree-burn-causing kind, like a raucous sing-a-long to Adele's "Someone Like You" in the back of the fire engine. You've got to do something to take your mind off the threat of death, the equipment shortages and the long shifts. Al (the brilliant Gerard Kearns) hadn't slept in three days or seen his son for a month. If the Fire Brigades Union was hoping to drum up public support, they could do a lot worse than a screening of The Smoke.
Kev blames management cuts for the burns he had suffered, but there's also another culprit, a mystery thug who's only identifiable by a dragon tattoo on his buttock. Yes, that's right, the plot revolves around a bum tattoo and that's not even the most trashy thing about The Smoke. This first episode concluded with a moment of trouser-dropping melodrama that gave a new and disturbing meaning to the phrase "fireman's pole".
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Keira Knightley topless: Usually conservative actress does own take on #Freethenipple campaign for Interview Magazine
- 2 Oil tanker with $100 million cargo goes missing off Texas coast
- 3 George Galloway left with severe bruising after attack in Notting Hill by man 'shouting about the Holocaust'
- 4 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 5 Lady al-Qa’ida: On the trail of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, the world’s most wanted prisoner
Strictly Come Dancing 2014: Gregg Wallace joins line-up as final celebrities revealed
Great British Bake Off 2014: Diana Beard quits after falling ill
Great British Bake Off 2014: Ofcom receives 13 complaints about Baked Alaska episode
Nicki Minaj suffers wardrobe malfunction during MTV VMAs performance with Ariana Grande and Jessie J
Friends reunion: Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow and Courteney Cox perform mini sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
- < Previous
- Next >