This tense, outstandingly acted 2003 BBC miniseries -- a political thriller that gets further inside the tough, neurotic, unsentimental world of hard-charging, scoop-chasing newspaper journalism than anything since All the President's Men -- is presented in entirety in this two-disc set.
The complex, multi-layered story, written by Paul Abbott and directed by David Yates, revolves around idealist Labour Party MP Stephen Collins (David Morrissey), whose female researcher is killed under mysterious circumstances. As secrets become revealed about their relationship and expose him to scandal, the staff at The Herald begin to suspect that government higher-ups might have been involved in an effort to blackmail Collins over his investigation of the oil industry. At the same time, a hired killer is chasing the staff to find out what it knows. It all gets far more complicated than that, maybe too complicated for a final denouement that hides in plain sight, but the series is constantly rewarding. John Simm plays the loner reporter primarily chasing the story, who also was once Collins' campaign manager. Kelly Macdonald is the reporter helping him -- at first against his will -- who gains strength the more she's challenged. James McAvoy is a washed-up but cocky reporter who gets brought in because of his contacts. And best of all is Bill Nighy, the best character actor in the business, as the editor capable of defending his staff to the death even as he berates and snidely insults them at every turn. Grade: B+
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