“Haven’t you got better things to do?”
After finally being able to catch up with Series 1 of WPC 56 and loving it, I was looking forward to Series 2. The BBC1 afternoon drama about the experiences of the first WPC in a fictional West Midlands constabulary really captured my attention with its mix of the personal and the policing but almost from the word go, this second series failed to live up to its predecessor.
First up was the saddening decision to have Kieran Bew’s DI Burns leave but not only that, have him appear in the first scene as if nothing had changed, all bearded up most handsomely indeed, and then snatching the rug from under us. His relationship with Jennie Jacques’ WPC Gina Dawson was one of the stronger parts of the show so I was genuinely sad as well as gutted on a more shallow basis.
His replacement, Ben Turner’s DI Harper, fell flat in almost every way for me. Too young and lacking the necessary gravitas for the position, the way the character was written also felt way too anachronistic, racing to bring in modern policing methods when the first series did so well at showing the way things were. Making him a Londoner felt another unnecessary innovation that just distracted from the storytelling.
Employing Alexandra Galbraith as a guest star was a canny move to try and win me over but it was too little too late in the end, the main story about fixing boxing matches, brothels and local gangsters left me rather cold. And the choice to have Dawson undertake another undercover role was both lazy and scarcely credible. So a definite disappointment all told.