On Tuesday evening, British TV lost one of its heavyweights. I will admit to mostly being a viewer of American TV shows, with the odd notable exception, but I am and always will be a sucker for some of the great dramas produced by the BBC and ITV. Luther is one of these. I would go so far as to say that this BBC production has been my favourite show since Life On Mars (we don’t mention Ashes To Ashes).
When Idris Elba returned to Britain to play DCI John Luther it seemed a slight comedown for an actor who had been the magnificent Stringer Bell in The Wire. Not so. Elba stepped into the red tie and grey overcoat of Luther, and instantly a classic show was born. A British cop show that felt like all the great American ones, with a cop going above and beyond to ensure that justice was done, rules were bent, stretched and often broken to get his man.
When we first met Luther, he was hunting down a child kidnapper, and the first show started with Luther letting, no helping, the bad guy fall off a building. Here is a man not to mess with. Along the way he lost pretty much everyone he cared about, all in the pursuit of doing the right thing. We saw him build a great chemistry/friendship with DS Justin Ripley (the underrated Justin Ellis) and alienate friends, allies, co-workers and pretty much anyone else who got in his way. At the end of the day, justice was served, and damn the personal cost to himself.
What other show would be brave enough to have our ‘hero’ team up with a confirmed psychopath, Alice Morgan (an utterly beguiling Ruth Wilson) because she is more trustworthy than his fellow cops. My favourite scenes from the three series of Luther have been the ones with Elba and Wilson, sparkling with chemistry and sexual tension. Idris Elba as John Luther is an actor entirely right for the role, hunched over, hands in pockets, he inhabited a tortured character and made us care about him, gave him a humanity often lacking in these roles. Can somebody please give him a good role in Hollywood now please? Or do I have to write one for him? He can come and be in our film if he wants…
I didn’t want this to be a memorial for a TV show, that would be crazy, but creator Neil Cross and Elba have said they would like to continue the adventures of John Luther in a series of films. Can I buy a ticket now?