STV, Thu 8 May, 9pm
Were James Nesbitt to be handed a script featuring the worst excesses of humanity, it would be difficult not to imagine him desperately looking for the jokes. Asides from his role as Ivan Cooper, the real-life civil rights activist of Bloody Sunday, there hasn’t been a TV part he’s taken which doesn’t feature him flashing a cheeky smirk or rolling his let-me-sleep eyes at some eejit. And even in this conspiracy thriller about state-sponsored murder there’s always an opportunity for Jim to lighten our loads.
In the three-part Midnight Man he plays Max Raban, whose fear of daylight leads him to rake the bins of the rich, famous and influential in an effort to get back into the journalistic game he slipped away from after the death of a source he once betrayed. Separated from his wife, Max rises at 6pm every day, just in time to ditch his daughter’s bedtime stories for JFK assassination theories before heading out in search of a story. It finally arrives in the shape of a steadily increasing pile of deceased anti-Iraq war activists, victims of a death squad led by, of all people, Reece Dinsdale. When Max gets too close to the truth, both he and his family become targets.
If you can get past the Nesbitt factor, there’s a decent conspiracy thriller bubbling away, though whether fans of 24 and Jack Bauer will be consoled as their favourite programme continues to be denied them is unlikely. Would be fun to see James Nesbitt smashing someone’s spinal cord with a single karate chop, though.