TV episode review: Inspector George Gently: Gently Go Man (2007), episode 1.1, directed by Euros Lyn
Based on a novel by Alan Hunter, the pilot episode of British crime drama Inspector George Gently begins with an unpopular police officer in London, George Gently (Martin Shaw), who witnesses his wife die in a hit and run accident. Quickly suspecting his nemesis, Joe Webster (Phil Davis), for the crime, Gently fails to get the support needed to go after him, and – knowing how many of his own colleagues are on Webster’s payroll – Gently considers retiring from the Met.
When word gets to him of a funeral around Durham or the North East that Webster is supposed to have attended, he goes to investigate. If Webster was there, foul play is likely to have been involved. He teams up with local police, ending up with the enthusiastic newbie John Bacchus (Lee Ingleby, Stan the bus conductor from the Harry Potter films!) fawning after the infamous London policeman who trusts no one.
Bacchus, being the efficient sort, has already caught the culprit – or so he’s convinced. Billy Lister (the dead bloke) was a keen motorcyclist, and the leader of his gang, Ricky Deeming (Richard Armitage) obviously did it. Gently isn’t as convinced, especially not when another gang member ends up dead while Deeming is still in police custody …
I’ve been wanting to see this particular episode ever since I found out Richard Armitage was in it. As it happened, when I went to Sweden to visit my family back in January, my dad happened to record an episode of this show. This particular episode. How’s that for timing?
The setting is 1960s Britain, and while it might seem quaint to have such a setting (classic cars, classic design, style and fashion, etc.) it does serve a purpose. The theme running through Gently Go Man is that of homosexuality. The first murder victim was keen on drawing, and he kept having schoolboy crushes on other men, and so on, and when one of the objects of his fascination – and leader of the motorcycle gang – regularly models for his drawings, Bacchus draws his own conclusions. The 1960s weren’t exactly big on gay rights, shall we say?
It’s never actually said if Deeming and Lister actually did have a fling, but odds are Lister only idolised him without any romantic or sexual feelings coming to any sort of fruition. We shall never know, I suppose.
One of the scenes in particular had me riveted to the sofa, thinking “wow, we’re going to be blown away by The Hobbit“: Deeming is interrogated by Bacchus and Gently, and good gods it’s intense. Armitage owns, nay PWNS, that scene! After it, I felt like giving it a standing ovation. Even if Richard Armitage isn’t in the episode a whole lot, albeit more than he was in the episode of Inspector Lynley, that scene alone makes the whole thing worth watching. And rewinding. And watching again. Rinse and repeat.
Aside from a marvellous performance by Richard Armitage, and regardless of the black leather he’s in (and the fact that he’s strung up by his hands too, just like Guy of Gisborne), I really enjoyed this episode and when it finished, my first thought was “I wouldn’t mind seeing some more of that, you know”. The (overly) eager young Bacchus was a good balance to the sombre authority of Gently (and shush, brain, stop wondering if he’s related to Dirk!), and Gently was brilliant, with plenty of lines that brought out a smile – and inspired groans in Bacchus. The ending, while being bleedin’ obvious, was a very good example of this, just short of “you’re my bitch now, Bacchus!” Great show, really.
5 out of 5 white scarves.