It’s Saturday night, it’s BBC Four – you know what to expect.
For many a moon, it’s been a time when the best in international drama has had a chance to shine, gaining dedicated British viewers who can’t get enough of weird and wonderful goings-on in such nations as Canada, France, Denmark, Italy and beyond.
The broadcaster has trawled the globe to bring us the likes of Spiral, Beck, The Bridge, The Killing, Inspector Montalbano and Cardinal, but it hasn’t had to travel far to find its latest offering.
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Hidden Assets is a co-production between Irish company RTE and its counterparts in Belgium and Canada; the show made its debut on Irish TV late last year, and went down a storm with viewers who were kept on the edge of their seats throughout its six-part run.
Heading the cast is Angeline Ball, who sprang to fame as Imelda in The Commitments 30 years ago and has rarely been out of work since. In 2017 she received an Irish Film & Television Academy award nomination for her performance as DS Emer Berry in Acceptable Risk, a crime drama about a woman searching for the truth following her husband’s murder while on a business trip in Montreal.
“My agent had pre-warned me that it wasn’t glamorous but I thought that was even better, I really wanted a role like this,” remarked the actor at the time. “I tried to make her as bland as possible in terms of her looks and her life; she really has nothing going on other than work and finding the truth.”
It was also a supporting role in a larger ensemble, but when Ball reprises the part in Hidden Assets, Berry is very much front and centre. Ball also describes the project as being “quite Scandi-noir,” so it should fit nicely into BBC Four’s Saturday evening slot.
Berry is a Criminal Assets Bureau officer, and to make sure she was getting things right, Ball spent time with a retired member of the force, and claims that what she does on screen is “with the slightest poetic licence absolutely authentic.” She also describes her character as being like an Irish female Columbo – and if that doesn’t whet your appetite, nothing will!
When we first meet up with her again, Berry is taking part in what should be a routine raid, but turns out to be anything but. Evidence found at the scene suggests that a seemingly small-time drug dealer has been receiving payments from an unknown source in rough diamonds which are linked to a series of bombings in Antwerp.
She hot foots it to Belgium to find out more, reluctantly forming an investigative partnership with local police commissioner Christian De Jong (Wouter Hendrickx).
Co-written by acclaimed scribe Peter McKenna, whose previous projects include The Last Kingdom, EastEnders and The Musketeers, and Morna Regan, who was recently named on the BBC New Talent hotlist, this is a show no self-respecting crime drama enthusiast will want to miss.
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