Episode 1 of Hard Sun, the new BBC One Saturday night programme from Luther creator Neil Harris gets off to a busy start setting the scene in this new cop show/end of the world drama.
There’s an awful lot packed in to the first episode of Hard Sun, Luther creator Neil Harris’s new Saturday night drama. Starring Jim Sturgess and Agyness Deyn as newly formed cop duo Charlie Hicks and Elaine Renko, Hard Sun is definitely not a standard cop show, although it does contain enough of the usual cop show motifs for large parts to feel instantly familiar.
Renko has a horrifying recent past having been stabbed and left to die in a fire by her own son, who she barely seems old enough to have given birth to. The more distant past that led to the breakdown of the mother/son relationship to such a terrible degree has yet to be revealed, but Daniel Renko currently resides in some sort of mental facility where he tentatively accepts chocolate bars from his mum. Hicks meanwhile, has problems of his own. An ostensibly happily married man with a pregnant wife and an adorable daughter, he is also having an affair with the wife of his recently-dead partner, DCI Alex Butler whose death he may or may not have been involved in. And all that’s before we get to the End of the World part of the story.
Neil Cross has stated that he was influenced to write Hard Sun by David Bowie’s apocalyptic epic Five Years and here, rather than the news guy weeping as he tells us (sorry), we have a story in which it seems that only a chosen few know about the impending end-of-days. There’s a NASA rocket flash drive that contains information on Dead Sun, in which the world is on a five year countdown to its own end. In this episode alone, two ‘hacktivists’ and City big-wig meet horrible ends as mysterious ‘bad’ people come after the flash drive.
Cops Hicks and Elaine Renko, who have barely met, but already clearly distrust each other, must escape from the mysterious ‘bad’ people and decide what to do with the flash drive that has already left dead bodies in its wake. The very satisfying action that takes place against this background of peril seems to happen in a London where most of the people are somewhere else entirely.
Hicks and Renko quite literally battle for the flash drive; Renko eventually beating off Hicks with a night stick. This is a particularly difficult watch as Hicks has possibly lost his senses in the desire to keep his family safe, while Renko has a more pragmatic plan to stay alive and make the Hard Sun news public.
There is a huge amount crammed in to this first episode and we can only hope that in the remaining seven instalments, the story is allowed to pan out and breathe a little. As for first impressions, Deyn’s Renko is the more likeable of our main duo. She elicits empathy for her awful circumstances,while maintaining a necessary degree of toughness. Hicks is a less sympathetic character on first viewing, although he’s clearly a popular chap with those who know him, so perhaps first impressions may be wrong.
How these two coppers can fight the mysterious forces trying to keep the impending apocalypse a secret while still employed by the Met remains to be seen, however, from this episode alone, we’re willling to tune in again to see what happens next.
Hard Sun episode 1 is available now on BBC iPlayer. Episode 2 will air on Saturday 13 January 2018 at 9:30pm on BBC One.
Written by Neil Cross, Directed by Brian Kirk, Produced by Hugh Warren
DCI Charlie Hicks…….Jim Sturgess
DI Elaine Renko………Agyness Deyn
Grace Morrigan……….Nikki Amuka-Bird
DS Keith Greener…….Owain Arthur
Mari Butler…………….Aisling Bea
Simone Hicks………….Lorraine Burroughs
Daniel Renko………….Jojo Macari
DS George Mooney…..Adrian Rawlins
DCS Roland Bell………Derek Riddell
DS Mishal Ali………….Varada Sethu
DS Herbie Sarafian…..Joplin Sibtain
Felix Nicholson………..Mark Carlisle
BBC Newsreader………Clive Myrie
Hailey Hicks……………Tamara Smart
Sunny Ramachandran..Tom Reed
Lily Ezekpo……………..Teri Ann Bobb-Baxter
John Gregor…………….Simon Thorp