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Leading article: Down to the wire

Last night many in Britain got their first glimpse into a world of arrogant police detectives, entrepreneurial drug dealers and self-interested politicians in one of America's chaotic and violent metropolises; a world also known as The Wire.

There are several questions left hanging in the air after last night's BBC2 screening, not all of them relating to the plot of David Simon's acclaimed creation.

Why has it taken so long for The Wire to make it to British terrestrial TV? Why has the BBC decided to put it out at the late time of 11.20pm? And, of course, why can our own domestic channels not seem to produce contemporary dramas of such sustained quality and uncompromising ambition?

We need answers to those questions. But while we're searching, let us not forget to relish this walk through the Baltimore garden of crime, punishment and politics.