TV Review: The Smoke (2014)

London’s Burning for the 21st century? The Smoke treads familiar ground in soapy nonsense set at a fire station

“I thought aubergines, it’s a party, why not”

As does many a Sky drama, The Smoke passed me by on its release in 2014 but in the search for unchallenging entertainment, it scratches the itch with some interesting variations on a familiar formula. I won’t give away the jaw-dropping moment from the first episode but safe to say, you’ll be in no doubt as to exactly what tone Lucy Kirkwood’s show is pitching for.

We follow the shenanigans of White Watch, a brigade of London firefighters who battle just as much personal drama as they do actual fires. Chief among them is Jamie Bamber’s Kev who suffered traumatic injuries in a huge fire and still has his demons even as he returns as fire chief. Helping him is the fact that his girlfriend is the Doctor (aka Jodie Whittaker).

So as we ricochet from incident to incident – car craches, hen parties, skyscraper proposals as well as fires – we’re also watching Kev’s search for the truth behind that arson attack that maimed him in a story strand that stretches over the season. And with Taron Egerton as new colleague Asbo possibly involved, it’s a strong bit of conflict that set up a second series well even if that didn’t turn out to be the case.  

The cast is actually really quite good here. Rhashan Stone, Pippa Bennett-Warner, Gerard Kearns as other colleagues; Amit Shah, Elizabeth Berrington and the marvellous Sinéad Matthews in supporting roles; and Al Weaver, Eleanor Matsuura, Peter de Jersey, Jenny Rainsford, David Dawson and more as people needing help. Perfect lockdown viewing.

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