MIXED reviews this morning for the return of Robbie Coltane in Cracker.
The general conclusion of TV critics is that it was good, but not the best. And several complain about being bashed over the head by writer Jimmy McGovern’s views on Iraq.
But there is praise for the performances of both Coltrane and co-star Anthony Flanagan, who played a classic killer in last night’s ITV1 film.
Stockport actor Anthony has won plaudits for his powerful portrayal of psychologically damaged Manchester policeman Kenny Archer.
Sam Wollaston writes in The Guardian, “With all the slick CSI sexiness about, it’s nice to see the return of a fat, foul-mouthed, impotent anti-hero, even if it’s just for one show. A great performance by Anthony Flanagan as the bad guy, too (the other bad guy).”
Although ex-soldier Kenny was shot dead in the closing moments of the drama, it’s not the end of Anthony’s career in the force.
Shameless fans already know him as local policeman Tony, whose love for Fiona (Anne Marie Duff) was doomed from the start.
Now, having played the role of police officer and murderer Kenny, Anthony, 34, is back filming in Manchester as yet another policeman – this time on the right side of the law.
He plays Det Chief Insp Thomas Flynn in a new ITV1 thriller called Instinct, produced by Tightrope, the award-winning company founded by Shameless creator Paul Abbott and producer Hilary Bevan-Jones.
Filmed in and around the Rossendale Valley and in the Lancashire Pennines, with studio work in Manchester, if features the search for yet another serial killer.
Anthony is soon to be seen alongside Ray Winstone and Suranne Jones in the new series of ITV1’s Vincent – also filmed in the city – playing the boss of a security firm.
He also features later this year in the dramatic last episode finale of the current BBC1 series of Spooks as Craig Fletcher, a character still under wraps.
And if you think you saw him in the acclaimed first series of Life on Mars, you’d be right. Busy Anthony played Pete Bond, a football hooligan who killed a fellow Man Utd supporter to provoke a fight with City fans before a derby match.
But Cracker is set to elevate him to a new level, with even leading man Robbie Coltrane – case cracker Fitz – praising his co-star’s acting abilities. “He was absolutely fantastic,” says Robbie.
A modest Anthony recalls: “Every day was a massive challenge. I wanted to play the character as truthfully and honestly as I could. To be honest, I found it all a challenge.
“My favourite scene was with Robbie – the big interrogation. Robbie said that it was the first time in the history of Cracker where Fitz meets a character that is as intelligent as him. Filming the scene with Robbie was brilliant.”
11:30am update: The return of Cracker attracted 8.1 million viewers, according to the overnight ratings.
Never mind the TV critics, what did you think of Cracker? Scroll down and leave a comment below.
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