|Blag of nerves – honest John (Steven Mackintosh) steps up. Pic: BBC|
BBC1, starts Thursday, 2 February, 9pm
Story: John Coniston manages a highly secure cash counting house. One day he finds himself in the middle of a terrifying, bloody armed robbery. Flash back to nine months earlier and John is confronting two employees he suspects to siphoning off £50,000. They expect boring, playsafe John to call the cops, but John offers them a way out…
Television is so obsessed with whodunits and police procedurals that it usually leaves the heist escapades to the movies.
Inside Men breaks that pattern with a intriguing character study of three guys who, because of their individual problems and insecurities, decide to step out of their comfort zones and risk everything by attempting a £15million robbery.
Steven Mackintosh, Ashley Walters and Warren Brown perfectly manage the haunted looks of the men saying no more Mr Nice Guy. This is a caper without geezers, just three beta males who want to be alpha.
Warren Brown and Kierston Wareing
Mackintosh plays the mouse-like John Coniston, manager of a cash counting house who looks like he's going to be sick every time a fiver goes missing. So desperate is he to maintain his generally unblemished monthly record at the staff bonus party that he replaces a missing £240 from his own wallet.
Also working at the depot is forklift driver Marcus (Warren Brown), an irresponsible dreamer with debts and a loving, lairy wife, Gina (Kierston Wareing). Chris (Ashley Walters) is the security guard with an alcoholic mother, who lands a new girlfriend and suddenly wants to get out of his miserable rut.
The opening episode of this four-parter kicks off with pounding tension as masked robbers hit the depot. Events then backtrack nine months and we get an insight into the lives of the three principals.
Going for broke
The narrative flashes back and forth, cleverly keeping the viewer on edge. Steven Mackintosh holds the whole thing together as the head-down drone with a plodding marriage who suddenly decides to go for broke.
Warren Brown breezes through as reckless Marcus, and only Ashley Walters is playing against type as timid and shy.
Written by Tony Basgallop (EastEnders, Being Human, Hotel Babylon), this is full of sharp character strokes – such as John's awful mateyness with a boss who clearly thinks he's a loser – that keep you watching to how the desperadoes get through this.
It's an involving, tense opener that's right on the money.
Cast: Steven Mackintosh John, Ashley Walters Chris, Warren Brown Marcus, Kierston Wareing Gina, Leila Mimmack Dita, Nicola Walker Kirsty, Hannah Merry Olivia, Tom Mannion Gordon, Ruth Gemmell Rebecca, Paul Popplewell Tom