Stephen Graham’s new drama, The Walk-In

Monday: The Walk-In - (ITV, 9pm)

Matthew Collins
Matthew Collins

What does it take to make a great drama?

Fine actors, of course. A director with a great visual style, a soundtrack that adds to the tension rather than overwhelms it and, of course, a fantastic story that everyone wants to know about.

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But even if all those elements are present and correct, we still need a top writer to breathe life into the characters and situation. Thankfully, ITV’s latest offering has just that in the shape of Jeff Pope.

If the name sounds familiar, that’s because he’s been involved in such memorable large and small screen productions as Philomena (for which he and Steve Coogan received an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay), Stan & Ollie and the Bafta-winning See No Evil: The Moors Murders. His next project is the eagerly awaited Archie, a series about Cary Grant.

As you can tell from those titles, Pope specialises in bringing real-life stories to the screen, something he’s doing again with The Walk-In, which features Stephen Graham in a starring role.

Graham has made a habit over the years of appearing in projects by top-class writers, including Shane Meadows (This Is England), Jimmy McGovern (The Accused and Time), Jed Mercurio (Line of Duty), Jack Thorne (Help) and Steven Knight (Peaky Blinders), and now in Pope, he’s adding another to the list.

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In a very topical tale, Graham plays Matthew Collins, a reformed Neo-Nazi who is now the head of intelligence at the anti-racist organisation Hope not hate (Hnh).

“Our work at Hope not hate is tireless, risky and often stays out of the public eye for very good reason,” says the real Collins. “It’s a huge undertaking to run sources in the far-right. We continue to gather information and intelligence to counter active threats and planned activities by the far right. Here at Hope not hate we really hope that The Walk-In will give the public an insight into how real these threats are.”

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The five-part series (all episodes will be available as a boxset via the ITV Hub streaming service following the broadcast of the opening edition) focuses on Hnh’s efforts to foil a plot to murder MP Rosie Cooper (who recently announced she was stepping down from her constituency in West Lancashire) just a year after the death of her Labour collegue Jo Cox.

The story follows informant Robbie Mullen, a former member of the banned National Action organisation, who went undercover within the far-right terror group to glean important information about its plans, which were eventually passed on to the police, resulting in a high-profile trial.

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“Our role in foiling an active plot to kill a serving politician is something that we are extremely proud of as an organisation,” adds Hnh chief executive Nick Lowles.

“The fact that this story is going to be highlighted and told to the public through ITV’s series will further bolster Hope not hate’s work to scupper these groups, increasing awareness, and will continue to aid us to support at-risk communities and at-risk individuals.”

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Great dramas don’t necessarily need to be factual or carry a message, but in this case, they certainly add to its undoubted importance.