Undercover – The DVDfever Review – Adrian Lester, Sophie Okonedo


Undercover begins centred around Maya (Sophie Okonedo), a laywer who’s spent the last 20 years campaigning for Rudy Jones (Dennis Haysbert), a man imprisoned for a murder he did not commit. However, he’s jailed in Louisiana where such a crime attracts the death penalty. Given that Haysbert played an assassinated President in 24, and now he’s not faring too well in this one, it makes you think – blimey, what a rum deal!

As he’s about to head for his final resting place, his last words to her are to “Go big”, i.e. he wants her to go on and change the system, so that such injustices cannot occur again in future. She also casts her mind back to Hackney, 1996, presented in flashbacks, when Michael Antwi, a friend of hers, died following a protest. With her being offered to job as the first black Director of Public Prosecutions, this could give her a chance to put some justice in his direction.

Meanwhile her husband, Nick (Adrian Lester) is back home in London, looking after their three children. A former undercover cop, and now attempting to be an athlete (really? He’s 47!), he’s got enough going on with his father very ill in hospital when a past situation comes back to haunt him in the form of Paul Brightman (Derek Riddell), as what looks like a chance meeting couldn’t be just that in TV drama-land because there’s always got to be someone looking mean and moody and sinister, but what’s the do, there? Well, we only got the merest hint of a teaser there and we could’ve done with more. Without saying too much, there’s scope between the potentially dark story that could emerge in future with this dodgy-looking individual, while his wife spends her time fighting for the law. Then again, his hobby of being an athlete wouldn’t be an interesting storyline.

There’s some great acting from Ms Okonedo while she’s dealing with Rudy’s case, but Lester just has a veneer of looking mildly concerned at his lot. Overall, we needed more from the first episode and I hope future episodes don’t go so slowly. Following The Night Manager was going to be a tough ask for any programme, but this one gave the feeling of a series with four episodes’ worth of drama spread out to six. I’ll look forward to seeing how the second episode goes, but it needs to up its game.

Undercover Series 1 is available to pre-order on DVD, with the date yet to be announced, and the drama continues next Sunday on BBC1 9pm. If you missed it, you can watch the first episode on BBC iPlayer, up until May 3rd, and click on the DVD packshot for the full-size version.

Undercover Series Trailer – BBC One

Episode 1 Score: 6/10

Director: James Hawes
Producer: Richard Stokes
Writer: Peter Moffat
Music: Vince Pope

Maya Cobbina: Sophie Okonedo
Nick Johnson: Adrian Lester
Rudy Jones: Dennis Haysbert
Paul Brightman: Derek Riddell
Jimmy: Phil Davis
Clem Johnson: Tamara Lawrence
Dan Johnson: Daniel Ezra
Ella Lawrence: Shannon Hayes
Al: Jude Akuwudike
Julia Redhead: Angel Coulby
Dominic Carter: Vincent Regan
Michael Antwi: Sope Dirisu
Abigail Strickland: Leanne Best
Scott: Todd Kramer
Warden: Kerry Shale
Judge Kramer: Jay Benedict
Attorney General Livermore: Nathan Osgood
Joshua Roberts: Wade McElwain
Dr Francis: John Schwab
Peter Mackie: Ian Peck
Sgt Douglas Trimble: Glyn Grimstead
Big Ray: Thomas Dominique
Fred Redhead: Alex Avery