TV review: The Route Masters: Running London's Roads, BBC2

Luther, BBC1

"My best friend calls me the Bus Pimp," said Vicky, one of the more engaging characters in The Route Masters, "But I do get called Blakey too." This comparison had obviously occurred to the producers of this series about London's transport systems, too, because they'd called their final episode "On the Buses". I'm very glad to say that it was much funnier and sweeter than the original, in large part thanks to Vicky, who brings an earthy realism to her work as a route controller.

"We're not asking them to fart gold or anything," she said about the drivers she supervises from a central control room. "Just drive the bus on the time card if you can.... it's not a rocket-science job." No it isn't, Vicky.... it's bus science, but then that now involves a lot more than a clipboard and a suspicious nature. Every bus is monitored by video and GPS, its progress tracked from a control room that looks a lot more Cape Canaveral than you might expect.

The drivers don't much care for this, talking wistfully of the time when they were a law unto themselves once they'd left the depot. But when you heard some of the stories of the good old days, you couldn't help but feel that passengers should feel grateful for the new efficiency. One old driver recalled letting his conductor off to do a spot of grocery shopping halfway through the route. And Christine, training to drive a bus herself, remembered her father's happy memories of popping into the pub for a pint and some jellied eels, while his customers sat stalled at his convenience.

Others recited the numerous ways in which you could sabotage a double-decker if you didn't feel like working on a particular day. This episode ended with a crescendo of nostalgic sentiment for the old Routemaster bus, including the very touching affection of the engineer who keeps the surviving ones on the road. But even he couldn't persuade you that the system was better back then than it is now.

"I've seen something like this before," said Luther, in the opening minutes of the latest series of the show that bears his name. Boy, you can say that again. Here we go again with the solitary woman making her way home down darkened streets, doomed to end up as the plaything of a murderous psychopath. Here we go again with a killer who wallpapers his lair with evidence of his previous crimes.

And here we go again with the weary detective superintendant who appears to speak exclusively in procedural clichés. "It's out of my hands," he says, pulling Luther off the fetish killer case to chase down the murderer of an internet troll. "Don't make me regret it," he adds, when Luther improbably convinces him that he can work both enquiries simultaneously.

The twist for this series is that internal investigators suspect that Luther might be a kind of serial killer himself. His suspects appear to have an unfortunate habit of dying before they get to court, so his loyal sidekick Justin has been persuaded to keep an eye on his working methods, which include dangling reluctant talkers over the parapets of tower blocks. But I'm not convinced this twist is enough to make up for the gaping holes in the plausibility. At one point, the chief suspect for the troll murder chops his fingers off in a blender to avoid a fingerprint match that would incriminate him. You can believe that, in his panic, he might have forgotten that his flat will be absolutely coated in fingerprints. But not that the police will have forgotten it too. And though Luther delivers its gore and its dread with a certain amount of style, it too often falls back on the standard machinery. "What am I not seeing?" Luther asks himself as he stares at the investigation whiteboard in frustration. Anything fresh, I'd say.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Jude Law in Black Sea


In Black Seahe is as audiences have never seen him before

Arts and Entertainment
Johnny Depp no longer cares if people criticise his movie flops


Arts and Entertainment
Scare tactics: Michael Palin and Jodie Comer in ‘Remember Me’

TVReview: Remember Me, BBC1
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Image has been released by the BBC
Arts and Entertainment
Will there ever be a Friends reunion?
Harry Hill plays the Professor in the show and hopes it will help boost interest in science among young people
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
A Van Gogh sold at Sotheby’s earlier this month
Arts and Entertainment

MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word

Arts and Entertainment
It would 'mean a great deal' to Angelina Jolie if she won the best director Oscar for Unbroken

Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says

Arts and Entertainment
Winnie the Pooh has been branded 'inappropriate' in Poland
Arts and Entertainment
Lee Evans is quitting comedy to spend more time with his wife and daughter

Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is dominating album and singles charts worldwide

Arts and Entertainment
Kieron Richardson plays gay character Ste Hay in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks

Arts and Entertainment
Midge Ure and Sir Bob Geldof outside the Notting Hill recording studios for Band Aid 30

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

    Christmas Appeal

    Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
    Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

    Is it always right to try to prolong life?

    Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

    What does it take for women to get to the top?

    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
    Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

    Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

    Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
    French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

    French chefs campaign against bullying

    A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

    Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
    Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

    Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

    Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
    Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

    Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

    Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
    Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

    Paul Scholes column

    I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
    Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game