TV review: Temple, Sky One (3 stars)

Temple, Sky One

Mark Strong stars as a conflicted surgeon in a well-told story despite its many strands

He may have played his fair share of nasty men, in everything from The Long Firm to Robin Hood, but Mark Strong is never more appealing than when he's taking on the role of a sympathetic hero. In Temple, that audience feelgood factor is sure to bubble up again, even when it's being sorely tested as he plays a good man doing some very questionable things, albeit for the right reasons. His surgeon Daniel Milton never quite descends into Walter White levels of depraved criminality and meticulous deception, though with every move, he too has to ensure a very large secret stays that way.

The Temple's secret is slowly unveiled at the end of a fine opening episode in which three seemingly disparate stories merge and flow forward in one direction. An armed robbery goes horribly wrong with Jamie Harris (Tobi King Bakare) running over a police officer while being shot in the tummy; this connects with the tale of the mild-mannered conspiracy theorist Lee Simmons (the always excellent Daniel Mays) who has established an underground facility to help seriously injured people seeking to avoid the usual medical channels. And who has Lee finally been able to enlist as the key medic? Why, Daniel Milton, of course.

The gentle sparring between Strong and Mays is one of the genuine pleasures of the show while an extra frisson arrives into proceedings when Daniel calls upon a colleague Anna Willems (Carice van Houten, Game of Thrones' prophesizing scarlet woman Melisandre) to help him out with his main avenue of research. Of course, the net has to close in on all this vaguely illegal activity, and it does so from two specific angles directed towards Jamie: a police duo intrigued by his total disappearance especially when his girlfriend is carrying their first child, and two very menacing characters played by Wunmi Mosaku and Craig Parkinson who are connected to one of the armed robbers Jamie left in the lurch.

There are certainly a lot of strands to be tied up across Temple's eight episodes (and even more so when you discover The Big Secret) but whether this all leads onto a second series remains to be seen. Either way, the main triptych of Strong, Mays and van Houren make for excellent viewing in the meantime.

Episodes watched: 4 of 8

Temple starts on Sky One, Friday 13 September, 10pm

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