The tension is palpable throughout the first three episodes of latest BBC drama Blue Lights. Co-written by The Salisbury Poisonings’ Declan Lawn and Andrew Patterson, the series takes viewers to the streets of Belfast where three fresh-faced rookies on probation begin to realise just how dangerous their new jobs are when they’re confronted with the perils of dealing with paramilitary gangs. Meanwhile, interference from undercover agents has further complicated matters and may be an indication of something more nefarious going on.
Beginning with a high-speed car chase, the first episode wastes no time in familiarising viewers with the danger at hand. New recruit Grace (Sian Brooke), for instance, is reminded to bring her rifle when approaching the vehicle that she and her supervising officer (Martin McCann) have been pursuing. In another scene, recruit Annie (Katherine Devlin) is assaulted when she forgets to turn on her bodycam. This sense of ever-present danger only increases throughout the course of the next few episodes, with the third opening with a harrowing sense of violence and dread.
The gritty drama packed into this series alone is enough to make Blue Lights a notable entry into the ever-growing genre of police procedurals. What elevates it to something genuinely special is the ways in which the writers humanise their cast of characters, each of whom is played wonderfully by the talented cast of veteran and newcomer actors.
This show has just as much to do with the day-to-day lives of the officers as the grander investigation that gets underway. Whether its veteran officer Gerry’s (Richard Dormer) need to look out for a vulnerable civilian or his very green initiate Tommy’s (Nathan Braniff) worries of being kicked off the force for failing his probation, the writers ensure that viewers see these officers as more than their uniforms. By underscoring their humanity, the characters instantly become more likeable and relatable. Likewise, their inexperience in the face of the dangers they’re unprepared for only serves to amplify the severity of the situation.
While it takes some time for the main plot line to get underway after an exhilarating first episode, Blue Lights will nevertheless have viewers hooked with its charming set of characters. And with the suspense only growing by the end of the third episode, the remainder of the series is set to become a white-knuckle ride.
Blue Lights is released on BBC One and BBC iPlayer on 27th March 2023.
Watch the trailer for Blue Lights here: