The Vice
Series One

Starring: Ken Stott, Anna Chancellor, Caroline Catz, David Harewood and Marc Warren
Carlton Visual Entertainment
RRP: 19.99
Certificate: 18
Available now

Go on patrol with the Metropolitan Police's vice unit, based in the heart of London's West End. Prostitution, pornography and murder are all part of the workload for the vice team as they investigate the capital's darker secrets...

Series one of The Vice consists of three two-part episodes that portrays a city of extraordinary social contrasts, moving swiftly from the back streets of King's Cross to the bars of Park Lane hotels.

When investigating the case of a murdered prostitute and a turf war between two pimps, inspector Chappel becomes personally involved when he tries to protect a high class hooker from her violent pimp...

The first two-part episode, Daughters, sets the tone well for the rest of the series. Thankfully there is no dull introduction of the characters, and very little back story to give us an insight into their characters. Inspector Pat Chappel seems like a bit of a sad case, falling for a prostitute - everyone knows you shouldn't mix business and pleasure.

The drama is gripping and the acting is strong which leads to a satisfactory opening story. This episode also sees the introduction of Dr Christina Weir (Four Weddings and a Funeral), who becomes Chappel's love interest in the first series.

Vice Squad officer Cheryl Hutchins takes on more than she can handle while working under cover, when she discovers that a nightclub boss has a sideline in S&M films...

Tim McInnery stars in the two-part episode Sons. This episode is more harrowing than the first story, mainly as it involves minors who are forced to perform acts against their will.

This episode also sees Dougie Raymond unable to separate his work and home life as he tries to convince his girlfriend to try a little S&M - a plot device that could have provided a little light relief to this rather sombre series. Instead the outcome only drags the series deeper into despair.

There are some bleak, yet powerful performances in this story and the fact that the locations in London are very familiar to me (not the Red Light district though, I hasten to add) helped to create more of an impression. A fantastic story.

Inspector Chappel's Vice Squad is seconded by the Drugs Squad to crack an escort agency that is working as a cover for drugs trafficking and prostitution...

Dabbling sees Raymond more desperate to try a bit of the action he sees on display on a day to day basis. Marc Warren's acting in this episode is incredibly moving and I actually felt for his character - which is saying a lot as I thought he was a bit of an arrogant individual in the previous two stories.

One nitpick though, the Internet pages that Raymond was looking at seemed to display their pictures a little too quickly - which would be great in an ideal world, but in reality this just doesn't happen. But then I suppose the drama would have been hampered if he had been sat there for 10 minutes while the images downloaded.

Julian Nott's (most noted for composing the music for the Wallace & Gromit animated shorts) music stands out in this last episode and really helps to enhance the drama.

Another wonderful story from an incredibly well conceived and executed series.

Pete Boomer

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