Paramedic call-handler Gabe (Iain de Caestecker) gets a panicked phone call from a distressed woman who seemingly confesses to killing her abusive partner. Gabe tries to calm her down when all of a sudden she stops, and says “Gabo?”
From there, poor Gabe – played with finger-tugging nervous intensity by de Caestecker, who is best known as a part of the MCU in Marvel’s Agents of Shield – is well and truly down the rabbit hole, with school sweethearts, villains with guns and dogged detectives all becoming intertwined in a knotty thriller.
The script, by Nick Leather, who wrote the terrific drama about the appalling killing of Sophie Lancaster in a Lancashire park, was taut and tense – who would ever have thought that waiting for an electric garage door to open could be quite so draining?
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And all the way through, you could never quite be sure of the characters’ motives. Was Gabe really such an innocent abroad, given flashbacks indicated a pre-pubescent fascination with matches?
Was Samantha, Gabe’s lost childhood love, really an abused woman, desperate to escape a doomed relationship?
It had a sort of propulsive momentum, which meant it kept you on the edge of you seat. And it was possible to come up with a number of possible endings, but the climax didn’t feel forced or obvious.
Three hours flew by, and if you didn’t know where it was going at the start – I even toyed with time travel at one point – you could really enjoy the journey.
I did not have high hopes for Witness Number Three (Channel 5, Mon-Thurs, 9pm). Five has form for these stripped dramas, which don’t fail to disappoint, but this drama proved a hugely different beast. Nina Toussaint White was terrific as Jodie, whose moment of good citizenship turns into a nightmare. Inventively shot, it’s terrific.