The devil s in the detail
The devil's in the detail

If the pedigree of the two actors teaming up in the BBC's new crime thriller Hidden is anything to go by, the crooks don't stand a chance.

One is Philip Glenister, best known as the brutish rule-bending cop Gene Hunt in the celebrated series Life on Mars and its sequel, Ashes to Ashes.

The other is Hercule Poirot himself - actor David Suchet - who plays Agatha Christie's supersleuth with snooty aplomb.

"Well, the series is called Hidden," warns Glenister, who anchors the nebulous four-part series as a solicitor forced to confront his shady past.

"Appearances may be deceiving. The devil is in the detail."

The gruff middle-aged actor - whose performance as Gene Hunt made him an unlikely British sex symbol - admits the writers kept the show's secrets even from him.

"I was thrown into filming the penultimate scene without much preparation," Glenister explains.

"But David (Suchet) and I did get to go out for some lovely dinners to talk about it beforehand. We'd walk through the door and all the diners would look up and see Poirot and Gene Hunt and say, 'The telly cops are here!' "

While Suchet's mysterious character is introduced further into the tense slow-burn series, Glenister stars as high street solicitor Harry Venn. He's hired by a sexy lawyer (Thekla Reuten from In Bruges) to find a missing witness for her client. But the search draws Harry back into a crime he committed 20 years ago, when he drove a getaway car that resulted in the death of his brother.

"Harry's a bit of a loose cannon with a bit of a past, and a rather glamorous femme fatale shows up in his office with a past that's entwined with his," says Glenister.

"Both have hidden pasts and hidden agendas."

Indeed, even if it includes all the hallmarks of a murky conspiracy thriller, Hidden is an apt title for this deceptively smart crime thriller that jumps back and forth in time. As Harry begins to untangle a deadly game of lies and deceit, he finds himself caught up in a conspiracy that goes all the way to the top.

"It very much reflects the mood of life in Britain today, where there's not a lot of faith in the economy or in our leaders."

Hidden was written by Ronan Bennett (Public Enemies) with veteran American screen writer Walter Bernstein (The Magnificent Seven). Both wrote it with Glenister in mind.

"It was a bit of a no-brainer, really," Glenister says. "You get an instinct for things and this really appealed when I read it.

"I could really see myself playing Harry Venn. He may be a solicitor but he's forced to play more of a detective here, and his personal life is a mess. So given all the characters I've played before, I could relate to that and get inside his skin."

Those roles have come in everything from Minder and The Bill to Hornblower and the excellent miniseries, State of Play.

With a new season of the acclaimed series, Mad Dogs, also hitting Foxtel in May *, *Glenister is clearly an actor in demand.

"I really like Harry. He has a roguish charm and he's not all he appears to be. Hidden is for grown-up audiences and I'm very proud of it, so I hope people enjoy it. Just tell them to put their thinking caps on."

The West Australian

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